First-Year Seminar Faculty and Staff
Briggs Hall - Room 21
Kristin Seemuth Whaley, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Graceland University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign when she successfully defended her dissertation “Immaterialist Solutions to Puzzles in Personal Ontology.” Dr. Seemuth Whaley’s areas of specialization are in metaphysics and philosophy of religion, and she teaches the following courses for the Division of Humanities: Finding Peace in Identity, Environmental Ethics, Freshman Seminar: Critical Thinking, World Philosophy, and Social Dimensions of Equality.
The courses Dr. Seemuth Whaley teaches cover a variety of issues in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of religion and ethics, drawing on literature from ancient, modern and contemporary philosophy. In her teaching, Dr. Seemuth Whaley’s goal is to help students take ownership of their learning experience so they may apply skills developed in the philosophy classroom to their lives and future careers. Her students learn how to evaluate arguments for philosophical conclusions, but also apply these skills to their personal experiences by evaluating arguments for and against their own opinions. When students take ownership of their learning in the philosophy classroom, they not only learn about significant views in epistemology or ethics; they also learn how to engage with unfamiliar lines of reasoning and become good problem solvers. They grow to be better equipped for all aspects of learning.
Dr. Seemuth Whaley’s primary focus is personal ontology, which is the study of what we are. She defends an immaterialist account of the nature of human persons that is well-suited to solve notoriously intractable puzzles. Discussion of these puzzles has largely centered on inanimate objects, but Dr. Seemuth Whaley pursues the challenges that arise for us as human persons. Because responses to these puzzles often require endorsing counterintuitive claims that would be unacceptable when applied to human persons, she argues that an immaterialist personal ontology is the only satisfactory solution.
Studying philosophy will help you do those cliché things like broadening your mind and thinking deeply about profound matters. But it also fosters development of practical skills: identifying implicit lines of reasoning, reconstructing positions charitably, strengthening weak claims and writing with clarity. In her work, Dr. Seemuth Whaley tries to realize a combination of these benefits, retaining a fascination with the theoretical but encouraging engagement with the practical.
Philosophy is all-encompassing, but when not explicitly thinking about her work, Dr. Seemuth Whaley likes to spend some of her free time practicing Ashtanga yoga.
Visit Dr. Seemuth Whaley’s website at http://kristinseemuthwhaley.com to view her CV.
Science & Math Division
Resch Science & Technology Hall - Room 113
I coordinate and teach our first year seminar course, Critical Thinking in the Liberal Arts and Sciences, and I teach one section of Introduction to Sustainability each semester at Graceland University. I greatly enjoy interacting with new students, learning about their backgrounds and how their views are shaped by the world around them.
I completed my Bachelor of Science at Graceland. Shortly after earning my Master of Science from Utah State University, I began working at Graceland University as part-time Sustainability Coordinator. While at Utah State, I worked at the university’s Environmental Learning Center. My master’s thesis was focused on storm water management. My goals for the sustainability program are to increase the program’s academic footprint and to grow more sensible food crops for sale as part of the campus dining service and in the community. I also wish to pursue better food waste management in the Lamoni community.
When I’m not teaching or coordinating campus programs, you can find me gardening, playing guitar, throwing around the Ultimate Frisbee, or cycling along the small Iowa/Missouri highways.
Briggs Hall - Room 17
"Poetry is my passion, followed closely by comics, backpacking, and movies, in no particular order. I don’t subscribe to a school of poetry, but I tend to write in a narrative mode. Recently, I’ve become enamored with experimental writing, and I just completed a collaborative book-length project with the poet, Maggie Glover, a poem from which appears in the anthology, Best American Experimental Writing 2015, published by Wesleyan University Press. Other poems of mine have appeared in American Literary Review, Carrier Pigeon, Cream City Review, Harpur Palate, Hotel Amerika, Indiana Review, Mid-American Review, Ninth Letter, Redivider, and elsewhere.
As much as I love writing poetry, teaching poetry (and creative writing in general) is one of the joys of my life. Engaging with student work is endlessly rewarding, and there are few things I enjoy more than watching a class turn into a close-knit community. What I love most about Graceland is its unique ability to create a strong sense of community from such a diverse group of people, and the writing classrooms here are no exception.
When school’s out, I spend my time traveling and backpacking, sometimes on my own and sometimes with buddies, such as our dean, Brian White, with whom I’ve spent many isolated days in the mountains of Utah. Perhaps my greatest summer achievement was hiking a 500-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail over the course of a month, starting in Vermont and finishing at the northern terminus of the trail at the top of Mt. Katahdin in Maine.
For anyone new to Lamoni, I recommend walking or riding the bike trail and tracking down some Amish donuts. Also, keep an eye out for a pick-up game of Ultimate Frisbee, if you’re into that sort of thing."
Student Support Services
Zimmermann Hall - Room 209
Donna Hurt is the Director for the TRIO Student Support Services Program at Graceland University. Her calling at GU is to encourage, mentor and break down barriers for first generation students. As a first generation college student herself, she attended Northwest Missouri State University earning a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies. Hurt then went on to pursue a Master of Social Work at the University of Missouri and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
Hurt is passionate about issues of social justice, privilege and oppression. As an adjunct instructor for the Social Sciences Division, one of her goals is to empower students. She wants to create awareness and empathy within them, so when they go out into the world they are effective change agents within their professions.
On a personal note, fitness, health and wellness are a lifestyle for Hurt. As a personal trainer and Certified Health and Wellness Coach, she loves to help others create a life of wellness for themselves. She has three great kids that keep her busy outside of Graceland, and when not at a ballpark of some kind, she loves to run and read.
Because wellness and wholeness are important concepts to Hurt, she believes in transformation as a “whole” student from day one of their first year to the day they walk across the stage at graduation and beyond. A student’s academics are very important to her, but so is their emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Hurt, along with other TRIO staff, are here to support every student in ALL areas of their identity that make them who they are and who they will become.
Leslie Robinson is the Academic Success Coach for the TRIO program at Graceland University. As a first-generation college student, Leslie understands the necessity of the TRIO program. Leslie is an advocate for access and equity in education. Leslie has channeled this passion for most of her adult life. She has worked as an educator and program coordinator in multiple educational settings. For the past seven years Leslie has served as a consultant for the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools®. There she has helped to train and empower over 1,500 young leaders annually at CDF Freedom Schools® Ella Baker Child Policy Institute. Leslie firmly believes that education is the key ingredient in social change, and personal progress.
In her spare time Leslie enjoys spending time with her husband, traveling, shopping, volunteering, reading and relaxing on her couch.
Leslie received her Bachelor of Science degree from MacMurray College, in Educational Studies, and her Master of Science degree from Cardinal Stritch University, in Higher Education Student Affairs Leadership, specializing in preparing leaders to work with people of different ages, genders, ethnicities, religions, sexual identities, abilities, socioeconomic backgrounds, languages, and customs by exploring the knowledge, skills and understanding of human development.
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Briggs Hall - Room 17
I teach literature, film, cultural studies and critical theory, and writing courses. Introducing students to the intellectual means by which “a ha” moments regularly occur is what most excites me. I have studied, and have degrees in, Theatre, British and Commonwealth studies, and English. But mostly, I’m a “thought experiment” type of teacher and thinker.
When I’m not teaching or engaged in administrative work, I build furniture, roast coffee, and spend much of my free time in the Rocky Mountains mountain biking every day, backpacking in the wilderness, and fly fishing.
For the last few years, I’ve co-led experiential educational seminars for the National Collegiate Honors Council in national parks (I’ve co-led trips to Sequoia National Park, Glaciar National Park, and Great Basin National Park). These experiences bring together my interest with the outdoors and my teaching and academic pursuits. You can find information about upcoming seminars here.
Oh, and I wish I was better at ultimate Frisbee than I actually am.
Newcom Student Union
Michael A. Hoffman, MAR, is the campus minister and serves as part of the Student Life team. He coordinates the Community of Christ InSpire program, which includes teaching the Missional Ministry and Leadership Practicum, and serve as the advisor to the Council of House Chaplains and the Campus Ministries Associates.
Michael teaches the first-year seminar course Critical Thinking in the Arts and Sciences. He appreciates the opportunity to serve with students in ministry across the spectrum of faiths.
Michael earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph, Missouri, and completed a Master of Arts in Religion from the Community of Christ Seminary, Graceland University. He has served over 25 years as a full-time minister with Community of Christ with much of his experience in youth and young adult ministry.
“I believe Christianity is on the brink of another great shift expanding our understanding of what ‘church’ might be in the future.”
Serving with students at Graceland allows experimenting with new forms of missional ministry.
Michael identifies as a “yerd” (yearbook nerd) and serve as one of the advisers to the Acacia, the Graceland University yearbook. He enjoys photography, working out and genealogy. He and his wife, Nancy enjoy spending time with their two daughters and their families, including four granddaughters.
Visual & Performing Arts
Helene Center - Room E214
I am primarily a social practice artist that encourages a community to learn together, share experiences, skills, traditions and stories in the name of art. I am trained as a painter and a drawer and have worked in video, sculpture and installation.
As an Assistant Professor of Art at Graceland University, I equally LOVE teaching foundational courses where growth is abundant and upper division courses where skills and concepts can be richly honed. I believe that art is a skill that can be learned and strong concepts can be cultivated. Form should follow function and purpose in a work of art, and often participants are needed for our work to be complete. I love moments in the studio and classroom where students are so involved solving a problem as a large group that they don’t even know I am in the room. Collaboration and idea sharing is at the heart of my teaching philosophy and art making process.
In my personal work, I record histories of those I respect and want to learn from so I can share their experiences and help keep traditions alive. I regularly work with an artist collective called collabAttack, of which I am one of three founding members. Our goal is to find ways to elevate the everyday and the people thriving within it.
A native West Virginian with a strong heart for Appalachia, one of my first and most formative adventures was a five-month thru-hike of the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine with my best friend. I was most recently inducted into the great Iowan tradition of riding RAGBRAI and have fallen in love with riding my cyclocross bicycle on the gravel roads with my Lamoni friends who are much stronger than me.