Luther College President Jenifer K. Ward and Dean of the College Kevin Kraus have announced promotions and grants of tenure for current faculty members. 

At its February meeting, the Board of Regents granted tenure to Marie Drews, English; Jill Leet-Otley, education; LaDonna McGohan, nursing; Ryan Torkelson, economics, accounting, and management; Molly Wilker, chemistry; and Roman Yasinovskyy, computer science. Drews, Leet-Otley, Torkelson, Wilker, and Yasinovskyy were also promoted to associate professor. 

The tenure process occurs in the sixth year of a faculty member’s service. The process involves student evaluations, department evaluation, evaluation by a faculty committee, and approval by the dean, the president, and the Board of Regents.

The Board of Regents also announced the promotion of Elizabeth Steding, German, to full professor. The promotion to full professor involves student, department, faculty committee, dean, and president review.

“This is an impressive group of talented and dedicated teacher-scholars whose enthusiasm and skill will benefit our students for decades to come,” said Kraus.

Marie Drews ’02

Marie Drews has taught at Luther since 2015. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in English at Washington State University, specializing in 19th- and 20th-century American women’s literature. Drews teaches courses in American literature, women’s literature, writing, and graphic narratives. She also regularly works with first-year students in Paideia. Her research examines constructions of femininity, nationalism, and racial/ethnic identity, as well as representations of food, consumption, and women’s and girls’ bodies in literature and popular culture.

Jill Leet-Otley

Jill Leet-Otley has been teaching at Luther since 2015. She earned her B.A. in religion from Williams College, her M.A. in special education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her Ph.D. in culture and teaching from the University of Minnesota. She teaches special education and foundation-level courses in the education major. Leet-Otley also teaches a Paideia 450 course on United States school systems, and she recently published a chapter in “The Divide Within: Intersections of Realities, Facts, Theories, and Practices” examining the intractability of whiteness in teacher identity. Leet-Otley continues to explore ways to support pre-service teachers in becoming anti-racist educators.  

LaDonna McGohan ’95

Ladonna McGohan began teaching at Luther in 2013 after previous adjunct teaching experience. A 1995 nursing graduate, McGohan went on to earn concurrent M.A. degrees in nursing education and nursing administration in 2001 from Winona State University. She completed her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Minnesota State University in 2009 with a primary focus on evidence-based practice. McGohan teaches at all levels within the nursing curriculum at Luther. She has a special interest in mindfulness and resilience within nursing students and is facilitating a research study within the nursing faculty on nursing student stress, mindfulness, and resilience.  

Ryan Torkelson ’07

Ryan Torkelson has been a professor in the economics, accounting, and management department since 2015, focusing on financial accounting, auditing, and information technology. He received his M.S.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 2008. He is a certified public accountant in the state of Minnesota and came to Luther with eight years of accounting experience. He teaches courses on a variety of topics including intermediate accounting, fundamentals of accounting, auditing, and federal income tax. He also serves as the treasurer of Luther’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter and is an active member in both the Luther and Decorah communities.  

Molly Wilker

Molly Wilker has been teaching in the Luther chemistry department since 2015. She earned a B.A. in chemistry from Gustavus Adolphus College and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Colorado Boulder. Wilker currently teaches the physical chemistry course sequence and general chemistry courses. Her experimental research focuses on nanoscale materials for fuel catalysis and storage applications. Most recently she has been working on a project to synthesize particle clusters for hydrogen gas storage. Wilker is also interested in chemistry education research focused on integrating experimental design skills and inquiry into physical chemistry laboratory curriculum. 

Roman Yasinovskyy

Roman Yasinovskyy joined Luther’s computer science program in 2016 and teaches courses at all levels within the computer science major. He earned B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine. He earned a doctorate degree from Towson University, Maryland, with a dissertation on the quality of voice communication over the internet. His research interests include networking protocols, security, and bringing the best software engineering practices to the classroom. He is currently the head of the computer science department.  

Elizabeth Steding

Elizabeth Steding came to Luther in 2005 after completing her Ph.D. in German studies at Michigan State University. Before coming to Luther, she taught high school in Michigan and Germany. She currently teaches at all levels in the German program and also serves as the director of student honors and fellowships. Her current research project examines the portrayal of East German literature in secondary school curricula and textbooks.

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