Academic Program at Centre College
Andrea Abrams came to Centre in 2007 as Centre’s first Consortium for Faculty Diversity at Liberal Arts Colleges Postdoctoral Fellow, and became assistant professor of anthropology in 2009. She was promoted to associate professor in 2014. In 2018, she was named associate vice president for diversity affairs & special assistant to the president
She is the author of God and Blackness: Race, Gender and Identity in a Middle Class Afrocentric Church (NYU Press, 2014). She led a study-abroad trip to Ghana during CentreTerm 2013, and co-taught Spring Term in London, England in 2015. Before coming to Centre, Abrams taught at the University of Southern Mississippi, Emory University, Agnes Scott College, and Spelman College. Her research focuses on racial and gender issues in the South.
Abrams has a B.A. in sociology and anthropology from Agnes Scott College. She earned a M.A. in anthropology, a graduate certificate in women’s studies, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Emory University.
File last updated: 6/27/18
Rick Axtell is H. W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor or Religion and College Chaplain at Centre College. Axtell initially taught at Centre during 1992-93 and returned to the college in 1995. He was named a Centre Scholar in 2003 and 2008, and received the Kirk Award for excellence in teaching in 2000 and 2015. In 2012, he was included in The Princeton Review’s The Best 300 Professors.
Concerned about issues of hunger and homelessness, he has served as director of Louisville United Against Hunger and also was a case manager working with homeless men through the St. Vincent DePaul Society.
Axtell’s travels in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Serbia, and Thailand have informed his teaching on issues of hunger, human trafficking, sustainable development, and peacemaking. In 2006, he taught in the UNESCO International M.A. Program in Peace and Development Studies at Universitat Jaume I in Castellon, Spain.
Recent research includes employment trends for day laborers in Louisville’s homeless population and interviews with public housing residents who were relocated in Louisville’s HOPE VI housing redevelopment. He is the co-author of The Other Side of HOPE: Squandering Social Capital in Louisville’s HOPE VI, published in Journal of Poverty in 2015. Axtell is also the co-editor of Ethics as if Jesus Mattered: Essays in Honor of Glen H. Stassen (Smyth & Helwys, 2015).
Axtell has also studied liberation theology and religion and violence in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua. His articles on the topic of religion and violence have appeared in the Encyclopedia of Religion and War and The Merton Annual.
He has led Centre students studying abroad in Cuba, England, Mexico, and Nicaragua.
Axtell holds a B.A. degree from Mississippi College. He earned M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has completed other advanced studies at the University of Notre Dame.
File last updated: 06/10/15
EXPERT: Homelessness and poverty — World hunger — Religion and violence — Liberation theology — Development, human rights, and sustainability — Christian ethics — Social justice
Expertise on issues of hunger and homelessness; former director of Louisville United Against Hunger and case manager working with homeless men. Has guided students to first-hand understanding of homeless shelters. Research on day laborers; public housing residents displaced by HOPE VI. Travel and study in Bangladesh, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua focused on sustainable development, human rights, and poverty. Honored as a teacher and a hunger activist.
Amy Frederick joined Centre’s faculty in 2015, and is assistant professor of art history. Her major area of interest is seventeenth-century Dutch art.
She received a B.A. in English and art history from Duke University, an M.A. in art history and museum studies and a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University.
Matthew Kassner joined Centre in 2014 as assistant professor of psychology.
He earned a B.S. at the University of Tennessee, and earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in social psychology at Purdue University.
Ellen Prusinski joined the Centre College faculty and staff in 2014 as coordinator of engaged and experiential learning and assistant professor of education. She supports the development and coordination of various experiential learning practices on campus, including community based learning. She returned to teaching full-time in 2018.
She has worked in a variety of educational settings, including community organizations and policy institutions in the U.S., high schools and universities in China, and nongovernmental organizations in Indonesia. Her primary research interests are in gender and education, nonformal and community based learning, and international education studies, particularly in Asia. She is especially interested in the role of community knowledge both inside and outside of the classroom and in issues of educational equity among groups historically excluded from formal education.
She earned her M.P.A. and her Ph.D. in education policy studies from Indiana University, where her Fulbright-supported dissertation focused on the educational processes surrounding women’s transnational labor migration in Indonesia. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College, where she majored in German and Political Science.
Jamie Shenton joined the faculty at Centre College as assistant professor of anthropology in 2017.
She is a cultural anthropologist specializing in medical anthropology, gender and sexuality, ethnographic methods, and comparative perspectives on U.S. and world cultures, especially Latin America. Her geographic areas of expertise are lowland South America and highland Central America, and she has spent significant amounts of time conducting fieldwork among indigenous Kichwa peoples (Amazonian Ecuador) and indigenous Maya peoples (Guatemala). Her most recent research explored issues of gender, intergenerational transformation, body image, and social change among indigenous Kichwa women in the Napo Province region of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Other ongoing research projects include productive intersections of contemporary feminist theory and Amazonian ethnographic theoretical paradigms as well as sexual violence on college campuses and questions of awareness and prevention.
Shenton’s teaching areas of interest include cultural anthropology; gender and sexuality; human rights; globalization; disease, healing, and health inequalities; modernity, social change, and indigenous resilience; media studies and popular culture; and body image and eating disorders.
Shenton earned a B.A. in anthropology and sociology and Spanish from Centre College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology from Vanderbilt University where she taught for nearly three years in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.
File last updated: 8/23/17
Beau Weston joined the faculty at Centre College in 1990 and was named Van Winkle Professor of Sociology in 2008. He is an energetic and active teacher, known for getting involved in the lives and activities of his students on campus.
Born in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, Weston earned a B.A. with high honors from Swarthmore College and subsequently completed an M.A.R. from Yale Divinity School and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Yale University. Prior to coming to Centre, Weston served for three years as a research associate in the Office of Research of the U.S. Department of Education.
Weston has a special interest in the sociology of religion, especially in the Presbyterian Church. He is the author of Presbyterian Pluralism: Competition in a Protestant House (1997, University of Tennessee Press), Leading from the Center: Strengthening the Pillars of the Church (2003, Geneva Press), and editor of Called to Teach: The Presbyterian Mission in Higher Education (2003, Geneva Press). Weston previously was an editor of and contributor to Education and the American Family: A Synthesis of Research, published by New York University Press in 1989. His history of the College, Centre College: Scholars, Gentlemen, Christians was published in 2010. Weston also writes the blog The Gruntled Center: Exploring the Happy Society.
This Centre professor received considerable press attention for his course on coffee houses. In 2011 he was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to develop a course on “The Happy Society.” In 2004, he won the Kirk Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 2014 he again won the Kirk Award, as well as the David Hughes (Professor of the Year) Award from the student leadership fraternity Omicron Delta Kappa, and the Professor of the Year Award from the Delta Delta Delta sorority.
Weston has presented papers at a number of professional meetings and has participated in the Kentucky Humanities Council speakers bureau. He has received honors including membership in Phi Beta Kappa, and he served a term as president of the Anthropologists and Sociologists of Kentucky.
Weston is an elder in the Presbyterian Church. He and his wife, Susan, have three children: Molly, Nora, and Rebecca.
File last updated: 3/10/16
EXPERT: Conservative vs. liberal churches — Anything Presbyterian — Sociology of family life — Marriage — Dating, mate selection — How to be a better boyfriend — Coffee and cafes — Academic blogging
Special interest in the sociology of religion. Author of Presbyterian Pluralism: Competition in a Protestant House (University of Tennessee Press, 1997). Editor of and contributor to Education and the American Family: A Synthesis of Research (New York University Press, 1989). Research and teaching on topics related to family life and major contemporary social issues. Authored full-length history of Centre College titled Centre College: Scholars, Gentlemen, Christians (published October 2010).
Kaelyn Wiles came to Centre in 2013 as assistant professor of sociology. In 2019, she was named a Centre Scholar.
Her scholarly interests include the sociology of health and illness, and environmental sociology.
Wiles received a B.A. in biology from Oberlin College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
File last updated: 9/4/13
Andrew provides pedagogical and administrative support for experiential learning initiatives and practices across campus, including community-based learning, academic internships, and undergraduate research. He is also a member of the history faculty and teaches courses that emphasize experiential learning within the discipline such as public history and landscape history.
Andrew received a B.A. in history and philosophy from Centre College, an M.A. in American history from the University of Kentucky, and a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Kentucky.
A Texan by birth, Andrew fell in love with the Bluegrass landscape during his undergraduate years at Centre. This eventually led to his doctoral research on the historical roots of the modern agricultural landscape of Central Kentucky. In his spare time, Andrew enjoys travelling, running, and playing with his rambunctious dogs, Jackson and Burley.
Mindy Wilson joined the Center for Career & Professional Development in 2004 as the Internship & Outreach Coordinator. As the Associate Director, she coordinates Centre’s internship programs as well as provides comprehensive career counseling to Humanities students and alumni. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature and Spanish at Point Loma Nazarene University and her Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2003.