The University of Olivet Welcomes Seven New Faculty Members

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The University of Olivet welcomed one of its largest incoming classes in history this fall, with 420 new students joining the student body. Along with the student growth Olivet is experiencing, seven new faculty members were also added to the instructional staff at the college.

Meredith Dodson, M.F.A.
Director of Writing Program
Assistant Professor of Writing

Professor Dodson will be teaching creative non-fiction writing and will serve as the director of the writing program. “I’m thrilled to be here at Olivet and to join a strong writing program,” said Dodson. “I love the start of a new school year, how there’s a rush of planning, new people to meet and all sorts of possibilities. I’m especially excited to welcome new students into the program and to help guide them as they develop as thinkers and writers.” Dodson is in the process of completing her doctorate in educational leadership at Western Michigan University (WMU). Her advanced educational background consists of a master of fine arts in creative writing from Georgia College and State University and a master’s degree in English with an emphasis in teaching from WMU.  She also holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in education from Kalamazoo College, as well. Dodson formerly served as the dean of the Binda School of Education at Miller College in Battle Creek and has experience as a writing center director at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, in addition to many years teaching and tutoring students.

Elisa Geiss, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology

This fall, Professor Geiss will be instructing the psychology seminar, as well as the introduction to psychology, learning and behavior and introduction to biopsychology courses. “I’m excited to join the The University of Olivet community and look forward to working with students,” said Geiss. Geiss is joining Olivet from the University of Michigan where she recently received her doctorate in clinical psychology, studying stress and social support in adolescents at risk for developing depression. While in graduate school, she taught multiple courses and served as an academic advisor in the psychology department. Prior to graduate school, she worked as a post-baccalaureate research assistant in a lab examining the early indicators of autism spectrum disorders at the University of California, San Diego, which is also where she had received her bachelor’s degree in psychology. Geiss’ research interests are in the area of family dynamics and the ways in which they contribute to adolescent depression. She has been an invited conference presenter and has published her research findings in several professional articles. Geiss said she finds psychology the most fascinating subject to study because it focuses on what makes us human. Every concept can be applied to one’s own life and allows us to understand other people better. “One reason for becoming a professor was being able to spark this passion for psychology in students as well,” said Geiss. “Additionally, some of my best experiences in the academic setting have been one-on-one interactions with students from exploring the students’ experiences, to mentoring and helping them to develop the pathway that is best for them.”

Areerat (Poy) Lertchaipitak
Assistant Professor of Business

Professor Lertchaipitak’s schedule this fall includes instruction in finance and financial planning courses. She enjoys teaching in a variety of ways in order to benefit and appeal to students with different learning styles and has teaching experience in both face-to-face and online classroom settings. Lertchaipitak is interested in conducting research in financial decision making, behavioral finance, financial satisfaction and financial literacy. She wants to help students learn about financial decisions and the importance of personal finance. Currently, Lertchaipitak is a doctoral candidate in the personal financial planning department at Texas Tech University (TTU) and completing her dissertation, “Gender Differences in Search for Financial Information.” Lertchaipitak also has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Kasetsart University in Bangkok, Thailand, and two master’s degrees, one in finance and economics from West Texas A&M and another in personal financial planning from Texas Tech University. She has received awards for her recruiting efforts, teaching excellence and volunteer service at TTU.

Eakamon Oumtrakool
Assistant Professor of Business

Professor Oumtrakool joins Olivet this fall in the financial planning program, teaching courses on fundamentals of financial planning, investments and income taxation. He enjoys teaching because it allows him to witness firsthand and influence the ways in which students change and grow into positive and ethical financial planning professionals. Oumtrakool earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from Kasetsart University in Thailand before earning two master’s degrees, one in finance and economics from West Texas A&M University and another in personal financial planning from Texas Tech University. Oumtrakool is a doctoral candidate in personal financial planning at Texas Tech University. He has researched time use and well-being of retirees (the topic of his dissertation), retirement income and consumption, behavioral finance and portfolio allocation decisions of retirees. Oumtrakool’s research has been published in several papers, he has been featured as a speaker at many conferences and has been recognized for service to the community.

Lertchaipitak and Oumtrakool, originally from Thailand, bring an international perspective on business to the college as well as a strong interest in recruiting international students and leading study-abroad courses. The couple welcomed a new baby girl, Rory, this summer.

Barry Poulson, J.D.
Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Computing and Information Science

Professor Poulson teaches a variety of computer science courses at The University of Olivet, including introductory courses in computer science, a course in software intellectual property law and the computer science seminar. Poulson has extensive experience in programming and software design and has managed data centers in higher education throughout the United States. Poulson has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Wyoming, a master’s degree in software engineering from Widener University, a Juris Doctor from Ave Maria School of Law and is licensed by the State Bar of Michigan. His master’s thesis dealt with thwarting a form of cyberterrorism. Poulson has served the college in numerous ways for more than 20 years, including being one of the original authors of the National Science Foundation grant that connected The University of Olivet to the internet in the mid-1990s and more recently as an adjunct instructor in mathematics and computer science.

Blake Reed, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Professor Reed, originally from Charlotte, will be advising chemistry seminar as well as teaching inorganic chemistry and the general chemistry I laboratory sections this fall. Reed received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Alma College in 2010, where his research focused on organic fragrance chemistry, specifically utilizing the allene-Claisen rearrangement to make sandalwood derivatives. Reed completed his doctoral program in inorganic chemistry at Wayne State University (WSU) in the summer of 2016. His research at WSU focused on designing reduced bis(imino)pyridine nickel complexes for reactivity with heteroallenes, specifically carbon dioxide. Reed received an award from WSU for his teaching while in graduate school, has taught at Lawrence Technological University and joins Olivet with 11 years of experience in teaching and tutoring. “I have always known I wanted to be a professor, specifically at a small, liberal arts college where, because of the low student to faculty ratio, I would have many opportunities for small classroom sizes and one-on-one teaching experiences, commodities which I value highly in a successful learning environment,” Reed said. “I cannot wait to start teaching. I am very excited to meet the students and help them on their journey to success!”

Holly Schaeffer, Ph.D.  
Assistant Professor of Biology

Professor Schaeffer joins Olivet to teach two courses this fall: human biology and anatomy and physiology. Her teaching experience began in 1996 and has included a variety of science courses in the Potterville and Battle Creek public schools, as well as serving as an adjunct professor at Kellogg Community College. She is a graduate of the University of Maine where she earned her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and Michigan State University where she earned her doctorate in genetics.  She also holds a teaching certificate with a secondary endorsement in integrated science. Schaeffer has advanced training in crisis intervention, CPR and has maintained her EMT license for 30 years. Schaeffer lives on a 115-acre farm with bees and greenhouses. She looks forward to the upcoming school year, stating “I really appreciate the warm welcome from everyone and am excited to contribute to the Olivet family.” Her goal is to help students see the relevancy of science-related studies and increase their interests and opportunities within scientific fields.

To learn more about undergraduate programs at The University of Olivet. With 32 majors and 24 minors ranging from accounting to sports psychology, journalism, chemistry, criminal justice and graphic design, there’s sure to be something for you.


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