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Faculty Testimonials

Learn more about our faculty and explore our academic departments!

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  • Dr. Kayla Peak

    Dr. Kayla Peak

    Dr. Kayla Peak, assistant professor of kinesiology and director of the kinesiology graduate program, also serves as a faculty fellow in the Center for Instructional Innovation at Tarleton. Peak has redesigned her courses so that each has an applied learning component which challenges students to become active, engaged participants in their learning experience.   

    Dr. Peak received the Texas A&M University System Excellence in Teaching award in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and has also been awarded Tarleton’s Jack and Louise Arthur Award in 2011, which recognizes excellence in the classroom. Most recently she was honored as the 2012 University Physical Educator of the Year by the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD), a state organization promoting excellence in teaching in those four areas.

    Known for two very special events on campus - Fantastic Field Day and Rock the Gym which are designed specifically for area public school students with physical and cognitive disabilities – Dr. Peak takes a moment to answer questions about her passion for teaching and for Tarleton..

    What motivates you to teach?

    My motivation comes from witnessing the ‘aha’ moments as students gain insight and inspiration about the course material and are able to actively apply this newfound wisdom to their lives!  I am constantly experimenting with innovative methods for providing instruction which will meaningfully engage the students in the academic material.   I want my students to develop a passion for learning so that they can become solid professionals in the Kinesiology industry. 

    What have been your most memorable moments while teaching at Tarleton State University?

    Honestly, it is all about the daily interaction with the students.   I enjoy helping the students prepare for their future and am thrilled beyond measure when former students call to let me know about their successes.   It’s a great day when I can celebrate the achievement of our students.  By the way, I am fortunate to have many great days!!!

    Who inspires you and why?

    I am inspired by all those I come in contact with on a daily basis.  Witnessing ordinary people embrace their days with extraordinary purpose and passion inspires me to be a little kinder, try a harder, and stay focused on my journey in life.  

    Name and explain one thing that most people would be surprised to know about you?

    I have spent the last few months researching Peak Bagging which is an attempt to summit the highest mountain peaks.  By 2015, I hope to have hiked to the summit of the highest mountain in each of the 50 states.  I have mapped out five peaks to bag during Spring Break!

    What is your favorite Tarleton tradition and why?

    Our university is steeped in rich tradition which creates a sense of loyalty and pride in all those who embrace the Tarleton spirit.  My favorite Tarleton tradition is the Purple Poo.  Unlike other traditions, the Poo are distinctive and unique to our campus.  Outsiders may stare in wonderment when they witness the crazy spirit antics of the Poo while those in the Tarleton family smile and nod in understanding.

    Dr Peak received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education from Tarleton and completed her doctoral degree in physical education and recreation at A&M-Commerce in 1995. She promises to keep us posted and share photos of her Peak Bagging experiences through Tarleton Focus on the university’s home page.

    Dr. Kayla Peak, Assistant Professor
    peak@tarleton.edu
    Phone: 254-968-9824

  • Dr. Jeff Justice

    Dr. Jeff Justice

    Dr. Jeff Justice, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at Tarleton State University, loves learning languages. He speaks and/or reads Scottish Gaelic, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, Danish, and Norwegian. He is actually back in school right now gaining professional fluency in Gaelic. He is inspired by those who are told that they "can't" or that they "never will," yet they defy the odds and their critics to succeed. Those who do choose to define themselves rather than allowing others to define them. Dr. Justice took a moment to share his thoughts on Tarleton, teaching and the study abroad experience.

    "At Tarleton State University, we often speak of leaving a legacy. My students will be mine. I've always been challenged to leave this world a better place than what it was when I found it. To that end, I challenge myself each and every day to push my students to excel and then to excel again. My goal – my wish – for them is for them to walk out the gates of Tarleton, diploma in hand, as citizens of this world ready to earn their places as the best at whatever pursuits they choose to follow.
    "A specific Tarleton moment that stands out for me, that inspires me, came from our 2012 Scottish Studies Program. We were at Inchcolm Abbey on our second-to-last day of the course, and I saw one of our Tarleton students sitting by himself on a bench overlooking the Firth of Forth, with the mountains of the Scottish Highlands shrouded by mist in the distance. It was a breathtaking view. I sat on the other side of the bench. After a few moments of quiet, he looked toward me and said a simple "Thank you." I never would have expected this student, who had never travelled far before, to have taken this study abroad course. It was amazing to watch how his world grew in the month we studied in Scotland. It's the very reason why I am inspired to lead Study Abroad.
    "Study Abroad opens so many doors to a wider, yet ever-shrinking, world. We can teach about other peoples, other cultures, other countries, but there is no comparison to living among them, experiencing their lives, hearing their stories, seeing their history, sharing their concerns, and realizing that we, as human beings, for all our differences, are far more alike than we might want to admit."

    Once again this summer, Dr. Justice will lead Tarleton State University's Scottish Studies Program offering students a chance to experience a country with a people whose friendliness is matched only by the stunning majesty of the land that they call their home. They will experience a nation that crowned its first king when we could write a year with only three digits. The coursework includes political science, history, and environmental science presentations. Students will get to walk on the floor of the Scottish Parliament and interact with its members in their offices. They will see the Honours of Scotland, Europe's oldest extant set of crown jewels, including the Stone of Scone, which served as the crowning seat of the ancient kings of Alba (to use Scotland's Gaelic name). They will interact with government officials in environmental and agricultural policy areas as well as some of the world's foremost scientists and scholars during their studies. The contacts these students will make will last a lifetime, and the memories they will gain will be eternal.

    Dr. Jeff Justice, Assistant Professor
    justice@tarleton.edu
    Phone: 254-968-1827

  • Dr. Joanna Shaw

    Dr. Joanna Shaw

    I feel completely privileged and honored to be a professor here at Tarleton. I feel that Tarleton is a special place that offers students a very personal and unique educational experience. Each time I begin a class, I ask my students a simple question: “What is the best thing that has happened to you since we last met for class?” So often their responses remind me of what a special place Tarleton is by voicing positive experiences they’ve had with faculty, staff, campus organizations, facilities and the food! My favorite part about teaching here is getting to know my students for who they are and helping them discover what they are passionate about.

    Tarleton State University’s College of Business Administration (COBA) offers undergraduate and graduate students high-quality, innovative, creative and relevant education in business disciplines. We serve a very diverse group of traditional and non-traditional students. As a professor in the Management, Marketing and Administrative Systems Department, I am committed to creating a learning environment that encourages each student to reach their full learning and scholarly potential.

    The College of Business Administration is also connected with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) which is located at the Langdon Center in Granbury and serves 10 counties in North Texas. The SBDC creates a strong relationship between small businesses and student opportunities for direct interaction. We also have internship opportunities with Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Lockheed, Lowes, Wal-Mart, and JC Penney just to name a few.

    With nine active student organizations within COBA, multiple study abroad opportunities, and excellent faculty and staff, the College of Business Administration prepares students to meet the challenges and opportunities they will experience in a very global and diverse world.

    I am passionate about our students!

    Joanna Shaw, Ph.D.

    Department of Management, Marketing and Administrative Systems

    B.S. Tarleton State University
    M.S. Tarleton State University
    Ph.D. University of North Texas

    Email: jshaw@tarleton.edu
    Office: College of Business 128
    Phone: 254-968-9087

  • Dr. Pam Winn

    Dr. Pam Winn

    "The Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies provides a personal touch in a high-tech world. In a time when graduate education is essential to staying competitive in the job market, Tarleton blends high technology delivery with professor expertise; integrated, field-based learning opportunities; and personal access to faculty and staff via technology or face-to-face.

    Our 30-hour Master’s degree offers busy professionals a variety of venues and delivery methods to expand knowledge, enhance careers, and network with fellow educators. Students seeking a doctorate in Educational Administration engage instructional formats with a cohort of like-minded professionals and a highly accomplished faculty.

    Across Texas, Tarleton excels at teacher and administrator preparation, achieving some of the highest pass rates in the state. A low student-teacher ratio provides opportunity to build lasting mentor relationships and leave your educational experience feeling enriched and empowered. At Tarleton, you are a name, not a number."

    Dr. Pam Winn, Ed.D.
    Assistant Professor
    Educational Leadership & Policy Studies
    Phone: 254-968-9792

  • Dr. Jason Sawyer

    Dr. Jason Sawyer

    The meat and food industry is quite often the end point of all facets of production agriculture.  To manufacture various food and meat items into a convenient and user-friendly vessel will continue to be the driving factor of the industry.  Students participating in meat and food science based classes will gain an appreciable understanding of the theories supporting the conversion of meat and food into edible forms.  Not only will students gain a wealth of information within the classroom, but also outside of the classroom rigors students can increase their level of learning by participating in extracurricular activities such as student-based research, internships, meat evaluation, and quiz bowl opportunities.  Students interested in the meat and food industry can direct their educational career towards areas of specialty that includes research and development, food safety, production methods, and ingredient or equipment technical sales.  Through their participation in meat and food science based material and the animal science and wildlife department, students will be further equipped with the skills necessary to be successful in today’s competitive job market.

    Jason Sawyer, Ph.D.
    Department of Animal Science and Wildlife Management
    Director of the Tarleton State University Meat Laboratory

    B.S. Kansas State University
    M.S. Oklahoma State University
    Ph.D. University of Arkansas

    Email: sawyer@tarleton.edu
    Office: Autry 310
    Phone: 254-968-1836

  • Dr. Melissa Becker

    Dr. Melissa Becker

    Tarleton State University’s Teacher Education Program offers undergraduate students high-quality, learning experiences in the public school classroom.  By working directly with pre-kindergarten through high school age students, teacher candidates practice the educational theories taught in the Tarleton classroom and begin to refine their skill as a highly-qualified teacher. 

    Area public schools and Tarleton professors join together in a collaborative effort to provide the best hands-on experiences for the Tarleton student.  The partnership is supported and enhanced by the Effective Schools Project (ESP), one of the nation's largest and longest-running school-improvement ventures.   

    With the Effective Schools research as its foundation, leadership teams from over fifty Texas schools and Tarleton professors meet together several times each year.  Erin Gruwell (author, Freedom Writers), Eric Jensen (author, Teaching with the Brain in Mind) and Alan November (author, Web Literacy for Educators ) are recent ESP professional development leaders.   The undergraduate student directly benefits from the ongoing partnership because Tarleton classroom instruction actively addresses the current trends and issues facing public schools. 

    As a result of the ongoing public school partnerships and the interactive experiences with public school students, Tarleton State University graduates possess the knowledge, skills and values required for successful teachers in the 21st century.

    Melissa Roberts Becker, Ed.D.
    Associate Professor, College of Education
    Off Campus Undergraduate Coordinator,
    Department of Curriculum and Instruction

    B.S. Howard Payne University
    M.S. University of Southern Mississippi 
    Ed.D. Baylor University

    Email: becker@tarleton.edu
    Office: Howell Building 101A and Hickman Building 309
    Phone: 254-968-9941 or 817-732-7300

  • Dr. Barry Lambert

    Dr. Barry Lambert

    Dr. Barry Lambert gives 110% to Tarleton State University. Dr. Lambert serves as the Director of the Southwest Regional Dairy Center, where he oversee the daily operations related to teaching and research. He also instructs a variety of Animal Science undergraduate and graduate courses.

    Another area of his responsibilities lies in a research appointment at Texas AgriLife Research in Stephenville, TX where he conducts research in the area of nutrient management and ruminant nutrition. 

    On top of all of that Dr. Lambert spends extra time, like many Tarleton faculty members, guiding student groups. He serves as faculty advisor for the Tarleton State University Dairy club, Dairy Judging Team, and Dairy Challenge Team.

    Dr. Lambert took a moment to answer a few questions about his research, his teaching and his life away from Tarleton.

    Your research interests include nutrient management from a nutritional, as well as an environmental standpoint. Why are you so interested in dairy science and, particularly, ruminant nutrition?

    “Advances in agriculture must keep pace with population growth in order to ensure food security for our nation and world.  Currently, the world population doubles every 40-50 years.  That means we must also double our food supply in that same time span.  We will have to use the best science available to make that a reality.  The teaching and research that occur here will help to provide more efficient meat and milk production for future generations.  The current generation of students must be ready to face those tough challenges.  I believe they are.”

    You are very involved with students in and outside of the classroom. What is your favorite thing about teaching at Tarleton State University?

    “Seeing students learn and grow professionally and personally during their time at Tarleton. “

    You teach, do research and direct the Southwest Regional Dairy Center. Is there something that you enjoy doing for fun and relaxation?

    “I spend my free time training working Border Collies.  In many ways it is just like teaching because dogs learn through repetition, just like we do.  I enjoy working with my dogs because they love what they are doing.  They never ask for a day off or call in sick.  They are doing exactly what they were born to do and they know it.” 

    Dr. Lambert is a member of the American Dairy Science Society and the American Society of Animal Science. He received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Tarleton State University. He earned his Ph.D. from the Kansas State University.

    Dr. Barry Lambert, Associate Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of the Department of Animal Science & Wildlife Management
    blambert@tarleton.edu
    Phone: 254-968-0597

  • Dr. Michael Hibbs

    Dr. Michael Hibbs

    One of the significant benefits that Tarleton offers the Undergraduate is the ability to do meaningful research. In the case of Physics and Astronomy, students can work hands-on with Tarleton’s state-of-the-art 32-inch telescope, which is the largest telescope solely used for undergraduate research in the United States. Through various publishable research projects ranging from, asteroid and super novae discovery to the search for exoplanets, undergraduates gain experience in research astronomy, as well as, the supporting fields.  These fields include optics, electronics, computer programming, imaging, image processing, and mathematics. This type of opportunity is generally only afforded to graduate students at larger universities.  The ability to offer these types of experiences to undergraduates sets Tarleton State University apart as being a unique educational experience.

    Mike Hibbs, Ph.D.
    Department of Chemistry, Geosciences and Physics

    B.S. Physics, University of Texas at Arlington
    M.S. Physics and Astronomy, Stephen F. Austin University
    Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Engineering, Texas A&M University

    Email: hibbs@tarleton.edu
    Office: SCI 213 A
    Phone: 254-968-9150

  • Dr. Leslie Spotz

    Dr. Leslie Spotz

    From the beginning of the piano student’s first semester at Tarleton, they are immersed in all aspects of the piano program.  Freshmen and transfer students, alongside upper level pianists performed on Tarleton’s recent regional piano tour (Waco-Dallas-Granbury), a series of professional level piano recitals.  Creative preparation for such performances is a step-by-step process, beginning with necessary in depth work, one-on-one, in the piano studio, followed by the piano studio class, where all students, moderated by the piano professor, play for each other.  Next, students are introduced to internationally acclaimed guest artists such as Barry Snyder, Van Cliburn Competition Silver Medalist, or Nicoletta Conti, accompanist to the legendary Luciano Pavarotti. Tarleton pianists receive instruction from these great pianists in addition to hearing them perform.   They perform and teach from the earliest moments of their collegiate experience.

    Performances as soloist, accompanist, or pianist in ensemble, are a regular feature of the curriculum, and pianists enjoy opportunities to perform on all keyboard instruments, including Tarleton’s Richard Kingston harpsichord, the Waggener Memorial Organ, digital keyboards and Tarleton’s two nine-foot concert grand Steinways.  There are opportunities for interested students for composition and arranging.  The curriculum emphasizes appropriate musical interpretation, musicianship, music theory and history and a thorough grounding in both traditional and new repertoire.

    Leslie Spotz, D.M.A.
    Associate Professor of Piano

    B.M. Curtis Institute of Music
    M.M. Temple University
    D.M.A. Rutgers University

    Email: spotz@tarleton.edu
    Office: Fine Arts 124
    Phone: (254) 968-9241

  • Dr. Lori J. Anderson

    Dr. Lori J. Anderson

    Having taught sociology for nearly 35 years, I still find teaching at Tarleton State University a rewarding experience.  The highlight of my day is entering the classroom. Even though I don't always find my students sitting on the edge of their seats, before I'm through with the lecture my hope always is to see them more enthusiastic about studying sociology. 

    Having the opportunity to teach sociology gives me the chance to change people's lives – otherwise I would've been a minister, the other career I considered.  I appreciate Tarleton for giving me the venue to share a different way of thinking with our students. I know that at this university I can be creative, challenging, and a bit pushy.  I feel it is my responsibility to drive students, not to question their values; to consider where they came from and then encourage them to decide for themselves if they want to cling to their existing beliefs or change them. 

    The part of the discipline of sociology that appeals to me the most is the opportunity to empower students to probe their “take it for granted reality” and find new ways of seeing life.

    It is not just the perspective of sociology that is exciting here at Tarleton. This discipline often results in collaborative research projects with students.  My fellow researcher, Dr. Pati Hendrickson, now retired, and I have had numerous opportunities to take students to conferences to present exceptionally good social science research.  Having the chance to teach students statistical analysis and data assessment is one of the best parts of my job.

    Working in the Tarleton sociology program is truly a privilege for me, and I value my time teaching here because Tarleton students appreciate the opportunity to learn a different way of thinking and receive the hands-on opportunity for scientific research.

    Dr. Lori J. Anderson
    Professor of Sociology
    Phone: 254-968-9619

    Ph.D., Oklahoma State University, Sociology.
    M.A., Stephen F. Austin State University, Sociology.
    B.S., University of Tennessee at Martin, Education—Sociology, History, and Psychology