Amanda Gallo
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Members of the Liberal Arts Staff Advisory Committee with Dean Lang (center) in the fall of 2022
Members of the Liberal Arts Staff Advisory Committee with Dean Lang (center) in the fall of 2022

Cornerstones of Excellence

Great people are the foundation upon which any great college is built. World-class faculty examining our past through a variety of lenses to help shape our present and create a better tomorrow for everyone and preparing future scholars to do the same; outstanding, dedicated staff keeping alumni connected to their alma mater while providing students with the support and resources they need to be successfulthese are the fundamental cornerstones of excellence. 

Our Liberal Arts community is comprised of talented individuals who support each other and work together to make the college, Penn State, and the world in which we live even better. We invite you to be part of that communityand learn more about ourselves and each other in the process. 

Supporting Our Faculty

The college’s Office of Faculty Affairs and Advancement exists to support and enhance the professional development of Liberal Arts faculty. The office hosts a variety of workshops, mentor programs, and other initiatives aimed at cultivating and promoting career development for all members of our diverse faculty throughout their careers. 

Mentoring enhances professional success and supports the career advancement of all faculty, but is particularly important for early and mid-career faculty. Effective mentoring fosters social connections, expands professional networks, improves research skills and productivity, invigorates pedagogical practice, and promotes a sense of community among all faculty who participate (including mentors)—making mentoring especially crucial as we begin to establish some sense of normalcy after the isolation and disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. By improving the working environment in the institution, mentoring also promotes the recruitment and retention of faculty and enables them to do their best work.

Created collaboratively by the College of the Liberal Arts, the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity, and the Africana Research Center, MFAP supports the advancement of faculty in the humanities and social sciences from associate professor to professor. The program serves faculty who identify as African American, Latinx, American Indian, Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and/or have a demonstrated service commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in higher education at Penn State. Program activities include one-on-one mentoring, peer coaching, professional development workshops, and writing groups.  

Learn more about the MFAP

F3 is a two-year mentoring and professional development program that facilitates the external funding success of faculty in the College of the Liberal Arts. We are fortunate to have many successful grant-active faculty in the college. To continue and expand on this record of success, we must ensure that junior faculty enter the ranks of grant-funded researchers in ways that support their research agendas, promote the wellbeing of their department and the college, and contribute to the research mission of the University. To achieve these goals, the college created F3 more than a decade ago.

A competitive program designed to support development of external grants by mid-career faculty who either have not been grant active or have been somewhat active and are applying for larger, more ambitious grants. 

Weekly facilitated writing groups that support the writing practices and scholarly productivity of faculty in the College of the Liberal Arts. The Faculty Writing Program enables faculty to secure dedicated time each week for scholarly research and writing, supports the development of productive writing skills, and fosters a community of writers. 

Learn more about the Faculty Writing Program

Sessions throughout the year to support faculty at all stages of their professional career. 

  • Orientation luncheons for new tenure line and non-tenure line faculty
  • New Untenured Faculty Workshops
  • New Department Heads Workshops
  • Promotion and Tenure Workshops: 
    • Promotion and Tenure Workshop for Untenured Faculty
    • Non-Tenure Line Faculty Promotion Workshop 
    • Narrative Statement Workshop
    • Associate to Full Professor Workshop
New Faculty Reception during the fall of 2022
New Faculty Reception during the fall of 2022
Interested in learning more? Contact:

Supporting Our Staff

There are a host of resources and support available to help staff grow personally and professionally, and to help our community thrive–including the college’s Office of Human Resources and committees, Penn State’s Office of Human Resources and Learning Resource Network, and an array of college- and University-level wellness and DEIB resources.

The Staff Advisory Committee seeks to enhance the work environment, improve processes, develop best practices, better utilize resources, promote professional development and growth, and encourage interunit communications within the college.

The University’s Office of Human Resources is a vital source of information for prospective and current employees alike. 

Learn more about Penn State Human Resources


The college is proud to sponsor more than sixty awards recognizing faculty and staff for outstanding leadership, service, and performance. Many of these awards come with monetary prizes, and winners are recognized at annual awards ceremonies.

Shirley Moody-Turner
Faculty Award

Shirley Moody-Turner

Associate Professor of English and African American Studies
Co-Director, Center For Black Digital Research
Associate Professor of English and African American Studies
Co-Director, Center For Black Digital Research
Shirley received the college’s Pavoucek Shields Faculty Award in 2022. The award recognizes tenured faculty who have undertaken professionally oriented service and mentoring on behalf of women at the University.
Earl F. Merritt, director the Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity in the College of the Liberal Arts, meets with a student at a resource fair in the HUB-Robeson Center.
Staff Award

Earl F. Merritt

Director of the Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity
Director of the Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity
Earl received the college’s Kenya Sherice Mann Equity and Justice Award in 2022. The award provides recognition to Liberal Arts staff members who are making a difference by developing, supporting, and/or promoting programs and initiatives related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Susan Johnson
Staff Award

Susan Johnson

Assistant Director of Research Funding, Planning, and Operations
Assistant Director of Research Funding, Planning, and Operations
Susan won the college’s Innovation and Change Award in 2022. This award recognizes employees who initiate change and use creativity to develop new or improved processes, methods, systems, products, or services; embrace change; and inspire others to adapt to change.
Rena Torres Cacoullos
Faculty Award

Rena Torres Cacoullos

Liberal Arts Professor of Spanish and Linguistics
Liberal Arts Professor of Spanish and Linguistics
Rena is one of the Class of 1933: Distinction in the Humanities Award winners for 2022. The award is given annually to a member of the faculty whose outstanding work in the field of humanities has proven to be an inspiration in that field.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

The college strives to increase diversity and fully include members of underrepresented groups among our faculty and staff. Diversity in our employees enhances overall creativity, intellectual pursuit, and accomplishments, and contributes meaningfully to the training of citizens in a democratic society. The qualities that people from diverse backgrounds bring to institutions of higher education help us think more complexly, consider varied perspectives, create new approaches, and achieve excellence as community members and leaders in an ever-changing world.


Upcoming Faculty and Staff Events


The College of the Liberal Arts is home to twenty-one cross-disciplinary centers and institutes that promote scholarly collaboration, outreach, and student engagement. The centers are equipped with the resources to bring their research and scholarship into the public domain, helping to inform practitioners and policy makers well beyond Penn State.

The Office of Research and Graduate Studies (RGSO) in the College of the Liberal Arts assists faculty in submitting grant proposals and managing grant and contract funding. They are especially committed to showing faculty new to the grant writing process how easy and rewarding it can be. 

Research Support

RGSO is a customer-focused, user-friendly office. They work with faculty, postdocs, and graduate students in a number of ways.

  • Proposal preparation and submission: This includes securing cost sharing, assisting with proposal preparation and submission, ensuring proposals meet agency guidelines, reviewing proposals for grammar, obtaining required signatures, and making budget revisions if requested by funding agencies. 
  • Managing grant funds and ensuring compliance: RGSO also tracks cost sharing, monitors academic year salary distributions to grants, manages account termination and closeouts, and assists departmental personnel in the interpretation of uniform guidance and sponsors’ terms and conditions. 
  • Other services: RGSO notifies faculty of important changes in federal grant policies, provides grants and contracts training to departmental staff, provides startup funds to junior faculty, hosts the annual Researcher Appreciation Reception, and more.

The College of the Liberal Arts provides funding to faculty to help them advance their program of study through significant and substantial research projects. Available internal funding opportunities include:

  • Start-Up Funds
  • Promotion and Tenure Research Funds
  • External Funding Recognition Award for Faculty
  • Plus additional funding opportunities through the University, including the Humanities Institute, the Social Science Research Institute, and the Survey Research Center

Liberal Arts faculty interested in external funding opportunities can work with the Office of Grants and Contracts. The office is committed to adding value to grant proposal preparation and grants management for research project principal investigators (PIs) and to enhancing the growth of sponsored programs research in the College of the Liberal Arts and the University.

To contact us, please email, call 814-863-6475, or drop by 118 Moore Building. For more information, current Penn State faculty, staff, or students can visit the Administrative Gateway.

Graduate student researchers in the Center for Language Science prepare to use electrophysiological recording of brain activity to learn about the inner workings of language with a special focus on bilingualism.
Graduate student researchers in the Center for Language Science prepare to use electrophysiological recording of brain activity to learn about the inner workings of language with a special focus on bilingualism.
Interested in learning more? Contact:
Faculty ResearchHistoryRichards Center

Rachel Shelden

Director of the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center
Director of the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center
Rachel is an associate professor of history who focuses her resarch on the political and constitutional history of the the long nineteenth century—encompassing 1789 to 1914.
Faculty ResearchHistoryMiddle East Studies

Laura Robson

William L. and Donna F. Oliver-McCourtney Professor of History
William L. and Donna F. Oliver-McCourtney Professor of History
A scholar who specializes in the Middle East and especially the Arab world, Laura and a fellow scholar launched a digital humanities project to tell the stories of and raise awareness and scholarship about stateless people.
AnthroplogyFaculty AchievementFaculty Research

Kirk French

Teaching Professor of Anthropology
Teaching Professor of Anthropology
In the summer of 2022, Kirk’s documentary—which explores environmental challenges faced by a Mexican community—was nominated for a Mid-Atlantic Emmy.
KirkFrench (1)
AnthropologyArchaeologyFaculty ResearchMatson Museum of Anthropology

James Doyle

Director, Matson Museum of Anthropology
Director, Matson Museum of Anthropology
A former assistant curator of art of the ancient Americas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, James Doyle has big plans for the Matson Museum of Anthropology at Penn State, which will be relocated in the Susan Welch Liberal Arts Building in 2024.
JamesDoyle (1)
Members of the Office of Alumni Relations and Development and Dean Lang with the fundraising trophy at the 2022 Office Olympics
Members of the Office of Alumni Relations and Development and Dean Lang with the fundraising trophy at the 2022 Office Olympics

Get Involved

The college’s Sustainability Council seeks to advance the understanding and resolution of sustainability challenges on campus, in our communities, and around the world. It does so by integrating sustainability into the college’s educational, research, and service pursuits—integrations which: 

  1. Facilitate stronger training for undergraduate and graduate students
  2. Develop participation and leadership in sustainability scholarship at Penn State and the larger academic community
  3. Support University efforts to achieve sustainable practices  

Learn more about the Liberal Arts Sustainability Council

The college’s United Way Committee strives to improve the quality of life of those in our local communities and to energize and inspire faculty and staff in our college to improve the quality of life for those in our local communities. The committee hosts a variety of fundraising events throughout the year, including the annual Office Olympics.  

The Theme Steering Committee guides the planning and implementation of the college’s “Moments of Change” initiative—a project that brings Penn State students, faculty, staff, and alumni together to explore what it means to live through historic and contemporary times of change. 

The current theme—Creating a Livable Planet—focuses on the many aspects of sustainability and highlights the ongoing work of the Liberal Arts Sustainability Council, students, faculty, staff, and alumni in that regard. Similar to previous themes—Remembering 1968 in 2018 and A Century of Women’s Activism in 2020—the college will offer an array of courses, lectures, presentations, and events centered around the Creating a Livable Planet theme. 

Learn more about Creating a Livable Planet

Future Students
CURRENT Students
Graduate Students
Get Funding

Rock Ethics Institute research associate Yael Warshel is poised to receive a book award at the International Communication Association’s annual meeting for her pioneering work in the book “Experiencing the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Children, Peace Communication, and Socialization.” Her book, a critical examination of peace communication interventions and their effects on children in conflict zones, has received international acclaim, with this being the book’s second major accolade.

Penn State University Libraries’ Open Publishing program recently launched a new Open Access monograph. “The Future of Foster Care: New Science on Old Problems,” edited by Yo Jackson and Sarah Font, is a collection of expanded conference proceedings from the 2019 conference of the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, a national leader in research designed to influence public policy that better protects vulnerable children from abuse.

P. Gabrielle Foreman, Paterno Family Professor of American Literature and professor of African American studies and history at Penn State and a 2023 MacArthur Fellow, embarked on a decade-long creative endeavor that culminated in her recently released edited volume, “Praise Songs for Dave the Potter: Art and Poetry for David Drake.”

WPSU uncovers the stories that unveil the triumph, grit, caution and legend that make up the history of the commonwealth in a new digital series titled “Past PA.”

Janet van Hell, a longtime Penn State faculty member in the College of the Liberal Arts’ Department of Psychology and director of the Center for Language Science, was recently promoted to distinguished professor of psychology and linguistics.

Liberal Arts Professor of English and Asian Studies Xiaoye You’s new book on rhetoric in early imperial China offers insights into how ancient rulers built and maintained an empire, and what that may reveal about contemporary issues.

Nearly 100 Centre County high school students visited Penn State’s University Park campus on April 12 to participate in the fourth annual Language and Linguistics Day hosted by Penn State’s Center for Language Science.

The Penn State Consortium on Substance Use and Addiction recently hosted its fourth annual conference in the HUB-Robeson Center at the University Park campus. 

An interdisciplinary team of Penn State researchers have received a $442,750 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, to support a multi-faceted, three-part study that observes how gay and bisexual men search and find HIV prevention information — specifically information about pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a medicine that when taken as prescribed, is very effective at preventing HIV.

Two Penn State professors — one in history and the other in art history and anthropology — have collaborated on a three-pronged project that will spark conversation and awe about the art, culture, science and history of Andean peoples.