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St. Olaf announces faculty promotions, tenure

By James Daly '13
February 28, 2011

St. Olaf Provost and Dean of the College Jim May recently announced that this year one St. Olaf faculty member has been promoted to full professor and six have been promoted to associate professor, four of whom also were granted tenure.

The faculty member promoted to full professor is Colin Wells. Beth Abdella ‘82 and Joan Hepburn were promoted to associate professor.

Joining the ranks of tenured faculty are Christopher Atzinger, Heather Campbell ‘90, Kevin Crisp, and John Schade — all of whom also were promoted to associate professor.

Promotion to Full Professor
Born in Liverpool, England, and raised in Massachusetts, Wells earned his Ph.D. from Rutgers University. His areas of interest include the literature of the American Revolutionary and Early National periods and 18th-century English poetry. Since joining the St. Olaf English Department in 1995, Wells has taught courses in 18th-century British and early American literatures, the American Beat Poets of the 1950s, the Great Conversation, and American Conversations. In 2002 he published The Devil and Doctor Dwight: Satire and Theology in the Early American Republic, and he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to write a book on early American political poetry.

Tenure and Promotion to Associate Professor
Praised in Gramophone for his “abundant energy, powerful fingers, big sound, and natural musicality,” Atzinger has performed at concert halls throughout Western Europe and the United States and has won national and international piano competitions. He earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and joined the St. Olaf Music Department in 2005.

Campbell, a former ESL teacher both in the U.S. and abroad, earned a Ph.D. in educational psychology/special education from the University of Minnesota. She served as director of St. Olaf’s federally funded Upward Bound program from 1995 to 2005, started teaching in the Education Department in 2001, and founded the college’s ESL education program.

Crisp earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of Minnesota and joined the St. Olaf Biology Department in 2005. His areas of research include invertebrate motor systems and neural regeneration after injury, and he received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study how dopamine affects the neurons in leech cells that trigger movement — information that he hopes will one day help scientists better understand Parkinson’s disease.

Schade earned his Ph.D. in biology at Arizona State University and joined the St. Olaf faculty in 2005, teaching biology and environmental studies. He is currently involved in two projects funded by the National Science Foundation: the CRISES Project at the Angelo Coast Range Reserve in Northern California that is studying biogeochemical cycling in stream networks and the Polaris Project, which is investigating the impact of climate change on the transport and cycling of carbon and other nutrients in the Arctic. He was also part of an interdisciplinary faculty team that received a National Science Foundation grant to purchase an isotope ratio mass spectrometer.  In addition, he has worked with several teams of students the last three winters studying winter soil biogeochemistry on St. Olaf College's natural lands.

Promotion to Associate Professor

Abdella earned her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and joined the St. Olaf Chemistry Department in 1986. She currently chairs the department and was a multi-term associate chair of curriculum. She has been instrumental in developing, teaching, and disseminating information about the integrated chemistry-biology sequence of courses, and she is a regular contributor to the Chemistry Department’s blog.

Hepburn earned a Ph.D. in literature from Brown University and joined the English Department of St. Olaf in 1987. Her areas of interest include women writers of the African diaspora, contemporary drama, and West African drama in English. She also  teaches for the Africa and the Americas concentration and the American Racial and Multicultural Studies (ARMS) program. Additionally, she has led Interim programs in South Africa and New York City.

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or