Monday Memo, January 9, 2023

A Newsletter for Faculty and Staff of the College of Arts & Sciences

Dear A&S Faculty and Staff,

It can’t be easy being interim. At every level, UofL has relied on interim leaders who, quite suddenly, are asked to solve inherited problems, motivate anxious teams, and find a path forward through the ever-present challenges of higher education. Often not knowing how long they will remain in their interim roles, they are asked to contribute their best while surrounded by uncertainty.

And so, it should be a cause for celebration when one of these valuable interims secures the permanent post: congratulations to Taleia Willis on her promotion to Director of Finance! During her time as Interim LFO, Taleia helped steer the Business Office through Covid, a new budget model, enrollment challenges, and leadership changes. I appreciate her service and deep institutional memory, and I know she'll continue to be a force for stability in the College.

Read on for more good news and great work by the wonderful people who make up our College of Arts & Sciences. 


Julie Wrinn, Chief of Staff


Research Bulletin


Alycia Lackey, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology, recently published an article in Ecology, “Experimental warming reduces body mass but not reproductive investment” ( Co-authored with Howard Whiteman, the study shows that under future climate change scenarios, even very small increases in temperature can have major consequences for salamander populations, which are sensitive to many climatic variables, including temperature. These results show that warmer temperatures reduce salamander body sizes and fat storage, which are likely to reduce salamander's lifespans and number of offspring produced. See above for figures from the paper.


Commencement Stories

Last month the College of Arts & Sciences awarded approximately 300 bachelor's degrees and 60 graduate degrees. One of them was to Alexa Grace Brunson (pictured above), who gives new meaning to the word “accelerated.” Alexa earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology in August 2022, 15 months after graduating from high school, and walked across the UofL commencement stage at the KFC Yum! Center on December 16. Alexa took classes year-round at UofL and added a couple Jefferson Community Technical College classes to complete her degree requirements. She credits Jonetta Weber, senior lecturer and director of academic services for the Department of Sociology and adjunct faculty member in sociology and sport administration, as a great supporter during her time at UofL. Now enrolled in a master’s in sociology program back at Morehead, Alexa’s next step is pharmacy school. Read more.


Olivia Yeager (pictured below) knew she wanted a different life, that she needed to break the cycle of “generational poverty” before she even knew what that meant. The first-generation college student walked the commencement stage on December 16 with two decorated caps: one to celebrate earning her B.S. in sociology and the other as a tribute to her late father, Andre Yeager, who always encouraged her to get an education. Read more.


Alumni Spotlight

James Coomer (B.S. in Theatre 2014, pictured above) served as assistant costume cutter for the latest Guardians of the Galaxy film (volume 3), based on the superhero team Guardians of the Galaxy, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. James was trained in Costume Design and Construction by Professor Zhanna Goldentul via the department’s work scholarships from the A&S Dean’s Office. After earning his UofL degree, James went straight into professional film work. You can view more about his story in the department’s recruitment video.


Faculty Feed on Leadership


A new episode on the Faculty Feed podcast features a conversation with Susan Ryan, Ph.D., Professor of English and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs in A&S. We know that leadership in the academy is hard work. Tune in as Susan describes her own leadership journey and the lessons learned along the way about being confident to step into roles, presuming the good intentions of others, and the incremental rewards that come to leaders in academics. Listen to this episodeFor questions or comments, email


Hidden Talents


If you’ve ever visited Gardiner Hall and struck up a conversation with Candyce Woodard (above), you've probably experienced the friendliness of our Administrative Secretary. Making small talk with Candyce is the best morale boost for anyone in the Dean’s Office, not only because of her warmth, but also because she has so many cool interests to share. Candyce is in the A&S Book Club and always has some formidable novel propped open at her desk. Being such an ambitious reader usually correlates with being a terrific writer, and Candyce certainly embodies that trend. Here are her recommendations for TV/films:

If you're into surreal examinations of race and culture, I highly recommend the TV show Atlanta. If you like shows that are uplifting and funny, I recommend Abbott Elementary. The best movie I saw in 2022 is Everything Everywhere All at Once. It explores resonating philosophical questions about meaning and purpose. There are a lot of absurdly hilarious moments in the film, but it also manages to pack an emotional punch.

Having earned a B.A. in Psychology from UofL in 2018, Candyce is now working on a Master's in Human Resources and Organizational Development. She is five classes into the program, with 18 more months until completion. She is also Co-Chair of the A&S Staff Association's Activities Committee.

But perhaps Candyce’s most impressive hidden talent is her appetite for live music: in 2022, she attended 36 concerts, including all four days of the Bourbon and Beyond festival. “Some of my favorite acts include My Morning Jacket, Jack White, Wet Leg, Shame, Turnstile, and Yola,” she reports. “I also listened to over 400 albums in 2022, which is a decrease from 2021 when my album listening count reached over 500 and nearly 100,000 minutes (I blame my Master's program for this shortfall).” I have been trying to persuade Candyce to start her own concert review blog, but that might have to wait until she finishes grad school.  

Many thanks to Candyce for sharing these facets of her life. If you would like to reveal some of your extracurricular side in this newsletter, please get in touch with


Bingham Faculty Fellows


The Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society is excited to accept applications for 2023-24’s cohort of Bingham Faculty Fellows! Our theme will be “Bodies and Embodiment,” and we would love to work with scholars who work on either of these terms (or their intersection) to create conversations with interdisciplinary richness culminating in advancing the scholar’s research. We cap the year with a symposium for the cohort and some invited scholars in their field to connect and continue the interdisciplinary conversation. Applications are due Friday, January 13, 2023.

For more information see our website. Contact Project Coordinator Brandon Harwood if you have any questions. (


Advancement Awards


Congratulations to Denise Bohn, Senior Director of Development for A&S and Libraries, and to Avery Kolers, Chair of the Philosophy Department, for being recognized with UofL Advancement awards in December 2022. Read on for some of the inspiring words their colleagues had for them. 

Denise won the Cardinal Principle Leadership Award, and one of her nominations said:

Denise displays not only leadership but humility, authenticity, integrity, consistency, encouragement, mentorship, and she fosters a space where people feel included. She exemplifies what it means to be honest and accountable. She is the first to volunteer a helping hand, the first to jump to celebrate our colleagues' accomplishments, both personal and professional, and the first to offer a bowl of warm soup when you aren't feeling well. She will often ask questions to understand others' perspectives or experiences. I admire someone who can reflect, be vulnerable, and take initiative in the way that she does. I am grateful to have her as a colleague and as a true leader in  Advancement.

Avery won the Belknap Campus Advancement Partner Award, and his nominator said, in part:

Avery has proven to be an amazing fundraising partner. He not only has a strong understanding of the process, and importance, of fundraising, but he respects it. . . . He is an excellent communicator who provides feedback when he meets with alumni, offers input based on development leads, shares his expertise and helps us build stronger relationships with philosophy alums. He dreams big, seeks council, provides detail, and assembles a powerful case for project-based fundraising. He understands the relationship journey with alumni and donors, and the importance of stewardship, both of which lead to increased philanthropy. . . . On top of these professional qualities, Avery is simply a kind, respectful, and an admired humble leader. The relationship between him and our development team is truly the example for which we hope all collaboration across campus to be.

Santa, aka Tom Ulmer, below, presented Avery and Denise with their awards.




Congratulations to several A&S faculty and emeriti faculty who recently won awards from the Partnership for a Green City. Russ Barnett, adjunct faculty in the Honors Program; Professor Emeritus of Philosophy Allan Dittmer; and Sustainability adjunct faculty David Wicks won the Partnership for a Green City Founders Award. Barnett, Dittmer, and Wicks are the three founders of the Partnership for a Green City and were recognized at a special ceremony at Louisville Metro City Hall on December 12. The Founders Award acknowledged the critical roles that Barnett, Dittmer, and Wicks play in making Louisville a greener city and improving our quality of place, while inspiring others to be good stewards environmentally, socially, and economically.

Russ Barnett also won the Joan Riehm Memorial Environmental Leadership Award, together with Margaret Carriero, Professor Emerita of Biology. The award was established in 2010 as part of the Partnership for a Green City initiative, where the University of Louisville, Louisville Metro Government, Jefferson County Public Schools and Jefferson Community & Technical College collaborate on overcoming our city’s environmental challenges. Kudos to all!

Congratulations to Calvin R. Coker, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Communication, for being identified as the 12th most productive scholar in the discipline in 2017-22 among publications in English identified as core to the discipline. Using a method called Griffen's Weighted Fractional Count, which assigns proportional credit for research authorship (for weighing multi-authored publications), a list of the top 25 most productive scholars was published as a peer-reviewed article in Communication Education. Calvin ranked 12than impressive and impeccably quantitative distinction.

Kudos to Andrea Gaughan and Andrew Mehring in the Department of Geographic and Environmental Sciences, who were awarded nearly $20,000 by the University of Kentucky Research Foundation/USGS for the project, “It's not easy being green: rapid assessment of wetland carbon source-sink status through remote sensing.”

Kudos to Afi Tagnedji, a senior majoring in biochemistry, for being selected as one of an elite group of international science, technology, engineering and mathematics students awarded the first Quad Fellowship. The fellowship, which focuses on building a network of the next generation of scientists and technologists, today announced its first cohort of 100 students from the United States, Japan, Australia and India. She is one of 25 who won in the U.S. and the only fellow from a Kentucky university. Read more.

Congratulations to Sherri Wallace, Interim Associate Dean of DECC, on being selected for the quarterly spotlight feature in "Political Science Now," an online publication from the American Political Science Association. Dr. Wallace shares more about her professional background and research, and how her work in diversity, equity, and inclusion has enhanced her leadership skills. Read more.

Congratulations to Micah Worley for receiving an NIH grant for $469,500 to study "Genetic analyses of bacteremia with non-typhoidal Salmonella." The grant is for understanding how some strains of Salmonella spread from the gastrointestinal tract to the bloodstream, heightening the chance of lethality.


A&S Town Hall


Many thanks to those who participated in the Provost’s A&S Strategic Planning Committee Town Hall on December 8. Committee members answered numerous questions from attendeesapproximately 50 people in person and 45 online. The Teams recording may be viewed at this link. Regarding the day and time when it was held: this was selected by committee members based on their estimation of when the most people would be able to attend.


Upcoming Events


Join the African American Theatre Program as we celebrate the life and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, 1 p.m., Playhouse Theatre, 1911 S. Third St. The program will include community artists and African American Theatre Program representatives as we use artistic expression to commemorate MLK's contributions to the world. We will use art as a form of activism and recognize the local companies that are making a difference one performance at a time. We will celebrate with groups like The Real Young Prodigys, Redline Performing Arts, Faith Works Studios, and more. For more information, email LaShondra Hood.


UofL's annual teaching conference will have the theme CULtivate: Inclusion, Belongingness and Student Retention. Join your colleagues from across the university as we celebrate teaching, reconnect with and learn from one another, nurture our teaching selves, and gather new inspiration for enriching student success at all levels. Friday, February 10, 2023  | 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., ShelbyHurst Campus. For more information and to register, visit: