Meet Our Faculty

Denise Hildreth
Stephen Berry

Average class size: 18

Catherine Paden
Masato Aoki
James Corcoran
Randi Lite
Dolores Pelaez

215

Full-time faculty members,
70% of whom are women.

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Student-to-faculty
ratio of 10:1

Ellen Grabiner
Naresh Agarwal
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“The faculty are extremely accessible. There’s the sense that we’re here for common goals.”

Kara Mellonakos '15HCMBA

Jennifer Putney
Oh
Donna Beers
Judith Aronson
Denise Hildreth

Denise E. Hildreth

“Live to do good and you will never tire of your employment.”  I read this quote at the age of 17 and, since then, have kept it pinned to my wall. Even before then, my career path was mapped out - I never really wanted to be anything other than a professional social worker.  Looking back more than 20 years later, there is still no career I would rather have and nothing more rewarding than watching students gain a passion for the work that I love. 

I began my career as a child welfare practitioner, working with children and families facing a host of what seemed like impossible challenges. I saw the ways in which their situations were impacted not only by their choices, but by their environmental context and social forces and injustices that impacted their ability to thrive and meet their goals. I learned early on that being a good social worker involved working alongside clients as they confronted personal challenges while also advocating for social change. My professional identity became strongly rooted in a social work strengths perspective and a commitment to social justice. 

I became a social work educator in 2002 out of a desire to share my knowledge and experiences and to be a mentor and guide for the generation of social work professionals that would go on to replace me in the field. As Director of the new BSW Program at Simmons, I have sought to develop a learning community where my students can develop the knowledge, values, and skills needed to become competent, ethical generalist social work practitioners. As a teacher, I look to create a learning environment that is based upon mutual respect and an appreciation for intellectual curiosity, challenge, professionalism, and lifelong growth.  In the classroom, I strive to assist students in developing strong critical thinking, writing, and professional practice skills that allow them not only to assist individual clients in locating needed resources and addressing specific problems, but to examine the critical role that the social environment and systems of power and oppression play in all of our lives. It is my hope that students not only become strong practitioners, but equally strong advocates and agents of social change.  

In addition to my passion for child welfare work, I am a homicide bereavement researcher, specifically examining the ways in which homicide bereavement impacts the employment of surviving family members.


Stephen Berry

Steve Berry

I attended Vanderbilt University where I double majored in History and Fine Arts earning the Bachelor of Arts and later a Masters of Education degrees. I also hold a M.Div. from Reformed Theological Seminary as well as a M.L.I.S. degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. I earned my doctoral degree in the Graduate Program in Religion of Duke University with qualifying exams on colonial America history, the history of religion in America, history of Reformation Europe, and Atlantic World travel literature. My doctoral dissertation, “Seaborne Conversions 1700-1800” examined the role of religion aboard eighteenth-century British sailing vessels crossing the Atlantic.

I have been a member of the History Department at Simmons University in Boston since 2007 where I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in Early American and Atlantic World history. I currently direct the department’s undergraduate program in public history, which means I teach an introductory course on public history that is combined with the history of Boston, a course that focuses on the role of objects in historical understanding, as well as supervising internships at a variety of museums and historic sites in the area. I teach separate graduate and undergraduate courses on the history of the Atlantic World from Columbus to the Haitian Revolution. I normally handle the first half of the American history survey, which covers colonization through reconstruction as well as an African-American history survey course. Finally, I typically teach our department’s core seminar for our undergraduate majors, “Interpreting the Past,” which introduces students to the theory and method of history. As a teacher of the humanities, my two overall goals for students in all of my courses are to be critical thinkers and excellent writers.

My wife Dana and I live in Maynard, Massachusetts with our teenage daughter and son. In my spare time, I enjoy reading and playing board games. In addition to writing about ships, I love sailing, but I know just enough about boats to be a danger to others and myself.

Catherine Paden

Catherine Paden

Catherine Paden (PhD, Northwestern University) is Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science & International Relations, and Dean of the Undergraduate Program, at Simmons University. Her research and teaching interests focus on racial politics, social movements, interest groups, and how underrepresented groups gain political representation. She is the author of Civil Rights Advocacy on Behalf of the Poor (2011, pb 2013), which assesses whether, and how, low-income African Americans gain representation in anti-poverty legislative battles. Her current research examines the impact of local civil rights and economic justice organizing on national policy and interest group priorities. She has published her research in the DuBois Review and has contributed research on the Nation of Islam to a volume on religion and American politics (University of Virginia, 2012). Paden has served as the Faculty Assistant to the Dean on Diversity Initiatives, on the Dean's Diversity Task Force, and on the President's Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council (PDIAC). As Dean of the Undergraduate Program, Paden is responsible for the implementation of the new Simmons core curriculum, the Simmons PLAN (Purpose, Leadership, ActioN).

Masato Aoki

Masato Aoki

I started my own college education as a pre-med major. (Guess what my parents did.) In my second semester, I discovered economics, and I’ve been a student of economic systems ever since. I continue to be fascinated by the dynamics that subject the economy to instability and even crisis; competing economic theories, from those that celebrate market outcomes to those that problematize class; economics as a window into social justice issues; and education reform movements as reflections of economic priorities. While I did not become a physician, I have devoted my life to studying the physiology and metabolic system of an important patient: the economy.

I love teaching as a craft, as a way to inspire students, and as a way to be inspired by students and colleagues. The classroom is a sanctuary, and time preparing for class and helping students pursue their own research is precious. Teaching extends to working one-on-one with students during office hours and engaging in intellectual play with the Economics Student Liaison (similar to economics “clubs” at other institutions). I also take great pleasure in advising students, which for me means helping them (1) discover their passions, (2) figure out what difference they want to make in the world and how to prepare to make that difference, and (3) navigate Simmons and Boston to get to most out of their college experience.

James Corcoran

James Corcoran

James Corcoran, an associate professor in the Department of Communications, is the author of two books on domestic terrorism. The first, Bitter Harvest: The Birth of Paramilitary Terrorism in the Heartland, examined the rise of the anti-tax movement in rural America embodied by extremists groups such as the Posse Comitatus. NBC-TV turned the book, which was based on Corcoran's Pulitzer Prize nominated coverage of the murders of three U.S. marshals by a militant tax protest group, into a made-for-television movie, starring Rod Steiger, entitled "In the Line of Duty: Manhunt in the Dakotas." Bitter Harvest received the Gustav Meyers Center's award for Outstanding Book on the subject of human rights and the Golden Pen Award. Penguin Press reissued it with a new foreword in 1995 following on the Oklahoma City bombing. A third edition was reissued in 2005.

His second book, Gathering Storm: America's Militia Threat, was co-authored with Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Written after the Oklahoma City bombing, it traced the growth and impact of hate groups, militias, and racist demagogues.

Corcoran is a member of the United Nations' "Roster of Experts on Terrorism and Related Phenomena" and a recipient of the Bush Foundation Leadership Award, which is awarded annually to no more than 20 people who are considered of "substantial standing" in their fields. During his 10-year career as a journalist, which included work for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and Newsweek, Corcoran received more than 24 state, regional, and national writing awards.

Randi Lite

Randi Lite

As a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist (RCEP) with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and a Nationally Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, I am passionate about the positive role that physical activity can play in chronic disease management and optimizing health. I am also passionate about service to my profession, in particular to advancing career opportunities for exercise professionals to be engaged in preventive health care.

My introduction to exercise physiology occurred with my first job as an Exercise Specialist in a hospital based sports medicine and fitness program. I was lucky to get in on the ground floor of creating a medical fitness facility that served both healthy adults and those with chronic diseases and conditions, like severe osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, and cognitive trauma. In those days, even pregnancy was treated like a medical condition when it came to exercise. I was part of a group that pushed for acceptance of a pregnancy exercise program within the sports medicine facility that trained pregnant women like athletes preparing for an event. Our hospital was also an Olympic Research and Training program, so I was privileged to work with Team Handball players before the 1984 games.

I have also worked in Employee Fitness and Wellness as manager of a hospital based Occupational Health Promotion Program. This program serviced area businesses and industries in Central Massachusetts with programs like Back Care Workshops, Smoking Cessation Programs, Employee Fitness Programs, and Stress Management Programs. Here I learned first hand how physical activity and targeted exercise could alleviate workplace-related stress and injury. Our clients ran the gambit from office workers who sat all day to laborers in manufacturing who had very physical jobs involving lifting, carrying, and twisting motions.

My scholarship at Simmons has taken many directions, like working with K-12 children to use technology to learn about wellness, quantifying energy expenditure and muscular demands of Exergaming, assessing and evaluating the physical capacity of athletes on the Simmons Swimming and Diving Team. Most recently, I have been running exercise programs and serving as the Health Coach for Boston Healthcare for the Homeless.

As Program Director for the BS in Exercise Science, I am committed to engaging students in challenging coursework that provides a firm base in science and research alongside real-world experiences to build skill in exercise assessment, prescription, and programming.

Dolores Pelaez

Maria Dolores Pelaez Benitez

I am a native of Spain and hold a doctoral degree in Hispanic Literature from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid.  After teaching Spanish at Boston University, I joined the faculty of Simmons University in 1992, where I became Associate professor (1999) and Professor of Spanish (2010).

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Judy Beal

I have had many leadership roles in my 43 years as a nurse. I currently serve as Professor and Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Simmons University. Prior to coming to Simmons in 1983, I taught at Boston University and Skidmore College.

At Simmons, I have been instrumental in building early innovative models of academic practice partnerships locally and then globally. In Boston, the unique model of "hospital as client” with the hospital financing the academic progression of employees in RN-BSN and RN-MSN programs grew from one partnership five years ago to eight partnerships. With foundation funding, she partnered with the University of Cairo to replicate an accelerated second degree BSN program for unemployed university graduates. This effort significantly advanced workforce capacity and elevated the level of professional nursing practice in Egypt. With academic and practice partners in Saudi Arabia and with philanthropists in Bangladesh and Israel, I am further replicating these programs.

As a RWJ Executive Nurse Fellow from 2008-2011, I created a national forum on academic-practice partnership by successfully engaging a national association to identify this issue as a strategic priority. I developed and co-led the AACN-AONE Task Force on Academic-Practice Partnerships. This group has significantly elevated the conversation on and strategy for developing academic-practice partnerships.

I have served as president, secretary, director and chair in many organizations including: Sigma Theta Tau International, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing (MACN), Massachusetts Association of Registered Nurses (MARN), and Yale University Alumni Association. Most recently, I have served as a two term, elected board member and the secretary of AACN, secretary and vice president of MACN, chair of the MARN Nominations Committee, and co-lead of the RWJF Massachusetts Action Coalition.

I am widely published with more than 120 peer reviewed articles. I am on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing as well as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Pediatric Nursing, the Journal of Professional Nursing, and Research in Nursing and Health. 

I received my BSN from Skidmore College, MSN from Yale, and DNSc from Boston University. I am a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and the National Academies of Practice.

Ellen Grabiner

Ellen Grabiner

I am currently the Chair of the Communications Department at Simmons University, in Boston, Massachusetts. I was hired seventeen years ago as an instructor quite simply because of my immersion in what were then the newest media in the communications field: the world wide web, digital imaging, and digital video editing. I was hired with the hope that I would help to bring the department into the 21st century, both in terms of preparing the communications students for the world that awaited them, but also in terms of helping them to explore, articulate and question the tremendous changes in media that surrounded them.

Fast-forward seventeen years and we are all still reeling from the accelerating speed at which new media has evolved. There is not a corner in the developed world today that has remained untouched by this gargantuan moving target of change. As a department that understands communication as a discipline that not only utilizes media but also critiques it, at Simmons we have embraced an approach that emphasizes media convergence: we employ new media to observe, explore, question, track, and understand new media. At the same time, we encourage our students to inhabit a meta-space in which they can approach the study of new media through philosophical, theoretical, political, social, technological, and aesthetic lenses.

My work as an educator, mentor, and developer of curricular initiatives includes co-design and co-direction of Simmons’ interdisciplinary minor in Cinema and Media Studies, my pioneering work in the first learning communities as part of the Simmons Honors program, my development of courses in cinema and media theory, storytelling, digital cultures and communications technologies, and my design and leadership of an intensive January course at Simmons called the World Challenge.

Naresh Agarwal

Naresh Agarwal

Naresh Agarwal, who joined the faculty in Fall 2009, earned his Ph.D. from the National University of Singapore (NUS)'s Department of Information Systems, School of Computing. His teaching areas are technology and web development, theories of information science, knowledge management, and evaluation of information services. Naresh's research area is information behavior and knowledge management — the way people look for information and the contextual factors that impact their choice of information sources. He seeks to understand and synthesize the apparent contradictions in this phenomenon and tries to reconcile multiple perspectives — the user (context, seeking, sense-making, serendipity, avoiding) versus systems/technology, theoretical and empirical studies, and a variety of contexts — office workers, medical residents, LIS students, faculty, librarians, toddlers, etc. His publications span these areas. His book 'Exploring Context in Information Behavior: Seeker, situation, surroundings, and shared identities' was published by Morgan & Claypool. Naresh also studies serendipitous information encountering and the causes and effects — both on the receiver and the sender — of information avoidance and non-response behaviors, especially by people who use smartphones and social media. He has held various leadership positions at the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) and was a member of its Board of Directors from 2012–2014. Naresh was the Chair of its Membership Committee (2015–2017), the Conference Co-Chair of its 80th Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., Oct. 27–Nov. 1, 2017, and was awarded the ASIS&T James M. Cretsos Leadership Award in 2012. Prior to entering the doctoral program at NUS, Naresh worked for six years in technology roles in the voice-over-IP, bioInformatics, and digital cinema industries. Among other things, Agarwal has been a debater and public speaker and likes to paint in watercolor and oil. In 2018, he started an initiative http://www.projectonenessworld.com to gather human stories through interviews to inspire other human stories. You can learn more about him at http://web.simmons.edu/~agarwal.

Naresh Agarwal's Curriculum Vitae

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Kyong Eun Oh

Kyong Eun Oh joined the Simmons SLIS faculty in the fall of 2013. She earned her Ph.D. at Rutgers University, School of Communication & Information. She received her M.A. in Library & Information Science from Yonsei University, and her B.A. in English Language & Literature as well as Library & Information Science from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.

Oh's research interests include categorization, information organizing behavior, and personal information management (PIM). In her dissertation research, she explored the process of organizing personal information from a cognitive sociological perspective, and developed a model that explains the process. Her dissertation, The Process of Organizing Personal Information, won the 2015 ALISE/Eugene Garfield Dissertation Award. She has been involved in a number of funded research projects including those funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Hewlett-Packard (HP) technology, the Center for Executive Leadership in Government (CELG), and the Korea Research Foundation (KRF).

Oh has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in information organization, metadata, research methods, and information technology. She is currently on the governing board of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) and serves as a section editor of Open Information Science. Oh also served as a co-chair of the 2016 ALISE/Jean Tague-Sutcliffe Doctoral Student Poster Competition, the publicity chair of the 2015 International Conference on Asia-Pacific Digital Libraries (ICADL), and a program committee member of 2016 iConference. 

Kyong Eun Oh's Curriculum Vitae

Donna Beers

Donna Beers

Donna Beers is Professor of Mathematics at Simmons University where she has taught since 1986. At Simmons she has served as chair of the Mathematics Department as well as director of the Honors program.

Judith Aronson

Judith Aronson

Judith Aronson has been teaching graphic design at Simmons for seventeen years and has been a practicing designer and photographer for more than thirty years. Prior to Simmons she taught at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the New England School of Art and Design at Suffolk University. Earlier in her career she was a program analyst in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department in Washington, DC, served as a VISTA Volunteer in East Harlem, and worked as a city planner for the New York City Environmental Protection Administration. For fifteen years she lived overseas: three years in South East Asia and twelve in England where she was a photojournalist. Aronson holds a BA in American Studies from the University of Michigan and a MA in City Planning and a MA in Fine Art/Graphic Design, from Yale University.

Her special interests are typography, environmental design, and photojournalism. In 2003 she received a grant from the Colleges of the Fenway to teach the course Wayfinding: Design, Information Architecture and Public Spaces. Wayfinding is a specialty that applies design principles to information systems that help people move through complex urbanscapes — hospitals, airports, college campuses and the like. In 2006 Aronson had a one person retrospective in Boston of her color photographs, TACTILE |MERCANTILE, with pictures ranging from the young Mick Jagger, to the slums Harlem and the exotic scenery in South East Asia. In 2010 she published LIKENESSES, with the Sitters Writing About One Another, a book of black and white portraits of writers and artists. The book led to a number of exhibitions both in the US and England including at the Picture Gallery, Christ Church, Oxford, The Poetry Society, London and the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol. A poetry competition sponsored by Bristol University in conjunction with the last show produced thirty poems each responding to one of her photographs. In 2015 the exhibition will move to the Cambridge University Library in England for twelve months.

Aronson’s photographs are held in collections at The National Portrait Gallery, London; Christ College, Cambridge; Keble College and Christ Church, Oxford University; Brotherton Library, Leeds University; and the National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian Institute), Washington, DC. Her work has been published in The Sunday Telegraph, England, the New York Review of Books, The Threepenny Review, Ms. Magazine, and the Boston Globe.