Mount promotes one dozen

April 01, 2014

Newburgh, NY -


Iris Turkenkopf earned Professor Emerita at Mount Saint Mary College as of July 1, 2014. She is seen here speaking to the class of 2016. Photo by Lee Ferris.

Mount Saint Mary College congratulates 12 faculty members who were promoted as of July 1.

Five were promoted as associate professors with tenure:

Victor Azuaje of Fishkill, N.Y., associate professor of Hispanic studies, has been teaching at the Mount since 2008. He holds a doctorate degree in philosophy from Temple University. This semester, he is teaching basic Spanish II, Spanish for Business, masterpieces of Hispanic literature II; advanced Spanish composition; and an independent study course. Recently, Azuaje won the 2013 “Jose Antonio Ramos Sucre” Biennial Essay for his book “Bajo la Sombra de Azazel: Sacrificio, Alegoría y Conflicto Social en Ramos Sucre.” (Translated: “Under Azazel’s Shadow: Sacrifice, Allegory, and Social Conflict in Ramos Sucre.”)

Dean Goldberg of Woodstock, N.Y., associate professor of media studies and co-director of the Mount’s technology and digital media major, has been at the Mount for six years. He holds a master’s degree in fine arts from Goddard College. This semester, he is teaching media problems and practices; media studies coordinating seminar, film noir; two communication arts internship courses; and an independent film study. He recently discussed “Semiotics and the Cinema” as a part of the Mount’s Investigating Research on Campus series. Perception is based in the context in which a symbol appears, he said. For example, an apple can represent good health, education, temptation, and more.

Monica Merritt of Middletown, N.Y., associate professor of education, started at Mount Saint Mary College in 2008. She holds a doctorate degree in education from Columbia University. This semester, she is teaching methods in mathematics for childhood education; literacy in the content areas for adolescence education; and mathematics methods. Currently, she is collaborating on the development of a K-6 resource book based on the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics.

James Moran of Marlboro, N.Y., associate professor of biology, is in his sixth year at the Mount. He holds a doctorate degree in philosophy and a master’s degree in science from the University of Rochester. This semester, he is teaching principles of microbiology with lab; immunology with lab; a natural science seminar in biology; a natural science seminar in chemistry; and a biology independent study. Moran is the director of the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program and plans to continue his collaborative research into a human blood substitute with OXYVITA, Inc. He will serve as chair of natural sciences starting July 1.

Jill Sussman of Garrison, N.Y., associate professor of nursing, worked at the Mount as an adjunct for two years before taking a fulltime position in 2008. She holds a doctorate degree in nursing practice from Regis College. This semester, she is teaching three courses in mental health nursing and a lab in mental health alterations. Sussman has been a registered nurse for 35 years, working in mental health for 25 years. She has practiced in acute inpatient psychiatry, holds a certification as a legal nurse consultant and paralegal, and is a local critical incident stress debriefer for ambulance, police, and fire departments.

Four have been promoted to full professors:

Lee Fothergill of Rock Tavern, N.Y., professor of mathematics, started as an adjunct in 2002-2003, and became a fulltime professor the following year. He holds a doctorate degree in mathematics education from Columbia University. This semester, he is teaching elementary statistics; analytic geometry and calculus II; and a pair of coordinating mathematics seminars. Recently, Fothergill worked with Habitat for Humanity to research the needs of the City of Newburgh, N.Y. The goal of the project, which was initiated by Gov. Mario Cuomo, is to hold state and local governments more accountable when allocating resources. He is also working with professors Monica Merrit and Kathy Venable to organize Family Math Nights at local elementary and middle schools.

Debra Hrelic of Bridgewater, Conn., professor of nursing, has taught at the Mount since 2001. She holds a doctorate degree in nursing from The University of Connecticut. This semester, she is teaching two courses on nursing care of the childbearing family, with labs. Hrelic and her Yorkshire Terrier, Caroline, have been a certified therapy dog team for approximately eight years. Last year, the duo was part of the Newtown, Conn. therapy teams. Many of Hrelic’s students and colleagues are familiar with Caroline, who has frequently visited nursing classes in her role as a therapy dog.

Dianne Murphy of Port Jervis, N.Y., professor of nursing, holds a doctorate degree in nursing practice from Case Western Reserve University. She has been at the Mount since 1997, beginning as an adjunct clinical instructor, before accepting a fulltime position in 2001. This semester, she is teaching two international nursing courses and two courses in complex health problems. She has also co-coordinated several humanitarian trips to the Dominican Republic for nursing students and faculty, and is a research scholar in residence at Orange Regional Medical Center.

Frances Spielhagen of Warwick, N.Y., professor of education, came to the Mount as an adjunct in 2002-2003 and was hired fulltime in 2003. She holds a doctorate degree in philosophy from Fordham University. This semester, she is teaching English methods; social science methods; and curriculum and assessment in social studies, 7-12; as well as graduate courses: differentiated instruction; content – English methods; content – social science methods; and theory, research and application of adolescent development. Spielhagen and Paul Schwartz (psychology) edited recently edited “Adolescence in the 21st Century: Constants and Challenges,” released in January 2014, which consists of topics presented at Center for Adolescent Research and Development conferences. Spielhagen and Schwartz co-founded the center five years ago.

Three longtime professors have been granted Professor Emerita status at the end of this academic year:

Joan Miller of Montgomery, N.Y., education, holds a doctorate degree in philosophy in special education from the University of Virginia. She joined the faculty as an adjunct in 1972 and accepted a fulltime position in 1974. This semester, she is teaching content enhancement for adolescent learners; and a graduate level course in research based instruction for students with disabilities. Miller has conducted extensive professional development in urban and suburban settings. Her current interests include strategy instruction, content enhancement to support students with learning problems in the general classroom, literacy in the content areas, response to intervention, and curriculum-based measurement.

Sr. Patricia “Pat” Sullivan, OP, of Beacon, N.Y., mathematics, graduated from the Mount 50 years ago. She also holds a doctorate in mathematics education from Columbia University. This semester, she is teaching elementary functions; two modern abstract algebra courses; and an independent study course. Sr. Sullivan is a Dominican Sister of Hope, and a member of the board of the local charitable organization, Newburgh Ministry. She notes that she and her colleagues are passionate about helping their students succeed, and that she greatly values her time spent in teaching future generations.

Iris Turkenkopf, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., earned a doctorate degree in nutrition from Columbia University. She had a 39-year career at Mount Saint Mary College that included appointments as professor of biology and chair of the division of natural sciences. For nearly a decade, she served as academic dean of the college and vice president for academic affairs, before passing the torch to VPAA Mary Hinton in 2013. While pursuing an active research program in nutrition, she has worked throughout her career to advance science education at the Mount. Turkenkopf was co-principal investigator of a National Science Foundation award of about $200,000, to develop and implement mathematics and science courses for students in the college’s childhood education program.