Biola Welcomes New Faculty for Fall 2015

From gourmet food trucks to 18th century British literature, Biola’s new faculty bring a diverse set of experience to the classroom

Aug. 28, 2015 By Jenna Loumagne

Biola University welcomes 30 new faculty members this fall — each of whom represent the university’s aspiration to attract and retain the finest Christian scholars. The new professors vary in interest and expertise from the Old Testament to time-based video art and sculpture to Spanish horror stories.

Learn about Biola’s newest faculty below and read their thoughts on the value of Christian higher education and the significance of a strong foundation in their specific fields.

Crowell School of Business

Jacob Avila

Associate Professor of Management

Dr. Jacob Avila, associate professor of management at the Crowell School of Business, comes to Biola from California Baptist University, where he served as department chair, MBA program director, and assistant professor of management from 2012 to 2015. Avila served as executive vice president and general manager of CA Construction, a family-owned construction firm specializing in disaster restoration and government contracting for over 17 years. He received his doctorate in policy, planning, and development from the University of Southern California and studied international business at Oxford University in Oxford and the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Guadalajara, Mexico. Avila is a scholar-practitioner and is committed to enhancing the work of construction industry professionals by leveraging the use of action research.

“Christian universities serve a valuable purpose in building God's kingdom by equipping students for purposeful lives of service to him. In order to be successful in fulfilling this purpose I believe it is important for students to experience and come to understand that Christ must be at the center of all experiences, including their business education. This should be affirmed by training students to understand business through the lens of God's Word and that wisdom and discernment come from God.”    

Brian Burnett

Associate Professor

Dr. Brian Burnett, associate professor in the Crowell School of Business, has worked in public accounting as an auditor for Arthur Andersen, KPMG and a boutique firm in Newport Beach, Calif. Burnett has also served as a professor at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and most recently the Orfalea School of Business at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. His research primarily focuses on how legal and regulatory environments affect firm disclosure and financial reporting decisions. He and his wife, Beca, live with their two young children in La Mirada.

“The accounting profession helps maintain the integrity of financial information in capital markets to aid efficient resource allocation in the economy. Upholding the integrity of financial information, however, is often in direct tension with accounting professionals own self-interest. For example, an auditor may acquiesce to the wishes of management rather than risk being replaced by a more compliant audit firm. Or a CFO may be pressured to ‘massage’ the numbers to meet a bonus target. These are not abstract considerations — the last 15 years has been marked by financial scandals including Enron, Worldcom, Freddie Mac, AIG, among many others. An accounting education rooted in Christian principles provides students with the values to make good decisions despite what can often be enormous pressure to bend the rules.”

Shane Enete

Assistant Professor

Shane Enete, assistant professor in the Crowell School of Business, has worked as an investment research professional for the last 10 years for large institutional asset managers. His duties included valuing public stock securities, modeling asset allocations for billion dollar pension plans, and serving as a forensic accountant for a trillion dollar bond manager. His research interests include how new developments in Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) alter how we think about investment prudence, how to optimally manage the spending of a Christian endowment, and how to reconcile the natural tension of a Christ follower between sacrificial giving and shrewd saving. Shane currently holds the designations of Chartered Financial Analyst and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst. He has been married to his wife Tammy since 2013 and they recently had their first child, Sage, born in March 2015.

“Since all knowledge comes from and through the Cross of Christ, it would be a big mistake to try and impart knowledge without understanding how that knowledge relates to Jesus. Finance is a tool that can be used to bless others, or manipulate others. Based on America's recent recession, it would seem that individuals are mostly using finance as a tool to manipulate others. It is crucial that when students learn the concepts of finance, that they also learn how to use it in a way that is both consistent with their biblical convictions and as a tool that will glorify Jesus.”

Rosemead School of Psychology

Earl Bland

Professor of Psychology

Dr. Earl Bland, professor of psychology, comes to Biola from MidAmerica Nazarene University in the Kansas City area, where he was a professor of psychology and dean of the School of Behavioral Sciences and Counseling. After completing his doctorate in clinical psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, Bland worked in forensic, medical and church settings before obtaining a faculty position. Bland recently co-authored a book with Brad Strawn of Fuller Seminary titled, Christianity and Psychoanalysis: A New Conversation. Earl has had an active role in the Christian Association for Psychological Studies and is a board member of the Society for the Exploration of Psychoanalytic Therapies and Theology. He is a scholar, teacher, supervisor, and integrator of psychology and Christian thought.

“Learning is an act of communal worship. As Nicholas Wolterstorff describes it: Learning is an expression of gratitude or a Eucharistic act that moves us toward God and the expansion of his love and justice in the world. In its best form Christian universities embrace this reality because knowledge is essential to becoming fully human and a full participant in the kingdom of God.  In my discipline I am an unequivocal advocate for the integration of psychology and the Christian faith as one of the most powerful means for understanding and addressing the suffering and disordered relating of this fallen world. Consequently, as a professor, my own professional knowledge, whatever its source, is intimately shaped by my Christian tradition and my personal engagement with Christ. As an outflow of this reality I engage students in a collaborative relational experience as we recognize the work of Christ in the world is contained in every educational experience whether he is explicitly acknowledged or not. There is no neutral knowledge; there is no isolated learner. As a community, Christian higher education emboldens students to flourish in whatever their pursuits from an enduring ground of purpose and meaning.”

School of Education

Luciano Cid

Assistant Professor

Dr. Luciano Cid has five degrees, four credentials and certificates, and is bilingual in Spanish and English. He is a tenured teacher in the Placentia-Yorba Linda School District and has taught from kindergarten to 12th grade. Internationally, Cid has volunteered his time teaching English in China and led a high school team to Rwanda. In 2014, Cid delivered a testimony to the State’s Congressional Committee for Education regarding the importance of universal preschool/transitional kindergarten, and in 2013 he conducted Spanish and English interviews for TV channels covering Bill SB 837 on Early Childhood Education. Cid has a passion for students, teacher training, diversity, and cross-cultural bilingual education and will be a great addition to the School of Education.

“Having a strong Christian foundation either as a new teacher about to enter the profession for the first time or as a seasoned superintendent of a successful school district is a central piece of one's ongoing success as an educator.  Research has found that the most influential factor in a student's academic advancement is the type of teacher to which the student is exposed. More importantly, data from the National Center for Educational Statistics continues to display problematic attrition and mobility rates within the field of education.  Consequently, having a strong biblical epistemic understanding of what one's role must be as a professing Christian should be viewed as the spiritual ace up one's sleeve.  An ace acting against the personal dissolution and dissatisfaction that non-Christian educators may experience within their field. For it is in Christ that one's ability to be a more patient teacher will increase, and it is in Christ that one's ability to be a more nurturing principal will increase, and in Christ will one's ability to be a more honorable and respected district administrator will also increase.”

Cook School of Intercultural Studies

George Payton

Applied Linguistics

George Payton and his wife, Wendy, have served with Wycliffe Bible Translators since December 1982. They have worked in East Africa, assisting in translating the Scriptures into various languages in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. In 2010, the Paytons relocated to Southern California as their home base. Payton has been teaching linguistics part time in the Cook School of Intercultural Studies and is now joining the faculty full time under a special contract with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Payton also teaches Swahili in the modern languages department. Payton continues working with translation colleagues in East Africa via the internet, and makes yearly trips to Africa. The Paytons have six children and five grandchildren.

“In my ministry field of Bible translation, I believe having a Christian higher education prepares people with a broader base of Christian learning that forms a more complete foundation for future Bible translators that they would not have if they studied in a secular education program. Having a Christian education exposes students to a wide range of studies that help them build a solid Christian worldview. That foundation is critical in any form of ministry.  Students study such subjects as philosophy, psychology, literature, history and anthropology from a Christian perspective. They also study the Bible and theology. All these areas formulate their worldview in such a way that they enter the field of Bible translation with much more knowledge about the Christian faith that can be applicable in Bible translation. I have seen that colleagues of mine on the field who did not have a Christian education were lacking in their understanding of basic Christian beliefs. They were less equipped when carrying out doing exegesis and hermeneutics because they had not had that training. If people have a Christian education, they are better prepared for doing Bible translation.”

Lloyd Peckham

Applied Linguistics

Lloyd Peckham has served with Wycliffe Bible Translators since 1974 and has served as a translator and consultant in Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore. Peckham has taught applied linguistics part time at Biola since 2005 and will be joining the Cook School of Intercultural Studies faculty on a full time basis under a special contract with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Peckham and his wife, Nancy have three sons who were all born on the island of New Guinea. Lloyd has leadership responsibilities at Calvary Church of Santa Ana and Calvary Life in a chaplain-like role amongst bicyclists.

“To become a Bible Translator for one of the 1,800 remaining languages which lack God's Word; or to learn and describe another language for any other application, your higher education gains you: 1) A reason for another country to grant you a visa, 2) An ability to understand what is already written about languages and cultures, and 3) An ability to intelligently present to others your findings. The value of making that higher education Christian is in developing a solid center in Christ and nurturing friendships to support you in your work.”

School of Arts and Sciences

Luke Aleckson

Associate Professor of Art

Luke Aleckson, associate professor of art, joins Biola from the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minn., where he served as department chair and professor of art and design. At Biola he will be instructing within his specialty areas of sculpture and time-based visual art, while continuing on his own visual art practice. Aleckson’s work has been exhibited nationally in such institutions as the Chicago Cultural Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and is focused largely on how utopian ideals manifest themselves in lived space. He is excited to research all and sundry utopian communities and histories in Southern California. He and his wife, Jane, are also excited to join the Biola community, and are happy that their infant daughter will be able to avoid the horrors of the Minnesota winter.

“The fine art world is one of those rare places in culture where practitioners are deeply invested in questions of meaning and value. In my experience, this is an incredibly rich and exciting, albeit challenging, arena for Christians to have a voice. Christian higher education is critically important in teaching christians to be fluent in the aesthetic and philosophical languages that will allow them to make an impact for Christ in arts and culture.”

Electra Allen

Assistant Professor of Nursing

Electra Allen, assistant professor of nursing, joins Biola’s faculty after recently receiving her Master of Science in Nursing from Duke University. Allen’s professional nursing career includes working as a critical care registered nurse in the emergency department at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Va., as well as the emergency department at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, a Level 1 Trauma Center. Prior to her nursing career, Allen was actively involved in women’s ministry at her church, where she helped to coordinate baby showers for families at the local crisis pregnancy center. Allen and her husband, Justin, currently serve in the creative arts ministry at their church in San Dimas, Calif. In their free time, Allen and Justin enjoy taking their two dogs on hikes, and working together on creative projects.

“The values of truth, transformation and testimony at Biola emphasize building character along with knowledge, and equip students to impact the world for Christ. Biola produces servant leaders grounded in Biblical truth, love and grace. I see the profession of nursing and my role as a nurse educator as ministry. In the nursing department at Biola, we go beyond preparing competent nurses, and help students make Christian caring a part of their practice.”

Zachary Bortot

Assistant Professor of Communication Studies (Theater)

Zachary Bortot, assistant professor of theater, comes to Biola from Chicago, where he served as a founding member of the Christian non-profit theatre company, Honest Theatre. While starring in and producing several productions, Bortot also studied and performed improv comedy at the legendary iO theatre. While he still serves as the director of development for Honest Theatre, Bortot is thrilled to leave the harsh Chicago cold in order to pursue his true passion — enabling other performance artists to explore the creative passions that the master artist placed in their hearts. He is ever thankful to God for the opportunity to work with the talented group of educators at Biola, and to his wife, Rebekah, whose unwavering support gives him the strength to endure life with Crohn’s Disease, serving as an advocate for disease awareness and exploration of alternative treatments and therapies.

“The U.S. landscape of higher education has shifted greatly within the past 150 years. Once the norm, institutions with a religious base dwindled as the state’s ability to create colleges and universities led to increased secularization. Expectations of graduates accordingly changed as well — emphasis was placed on the creation of technical experts, while a focus on clearly defined moral formation fell by the wayside. Institutions promoting Christlikeness within an individual are now the exception rather than the rule. This specific formation is all encompassing — it does not start nor end with a vocation. In 1 Peter 2:9 we are called to be a peculiar people, a people all his own. As Christians, we are called to be his, and to do his work. A Christian liberal arts education enables students to pursue that calling, providing growth in areas directly reflecting qualities of God’s character, from creativity to communication to logic — none of which function by themselves. They are pieces of a whole, much the same as we are pieces of his body. In my humble opinion, Christian higher education promotes a holistic formation of the quality and character of an individual — an experience completely unlike any offered at a secular institution.”

Jonathan Calvillo

Instructor of Sociology

Dr. Jonathan Calvillo, instructor of sociology, is pleased to return to his alma mater, having received a bachelor’s degree and Master of Divinity from Biola and Talbot School of Theology, respectively. Calvillo is currently completing his final year of dissertation writing as a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of California, Irvine. Calvillo’s work explores the dynamics of Latino churches, multi-ethnic ministry and urban contexts. Calvillo grew up in Fullerton, Calif. and has lived in Santa Ana, Calif. for over a decade. He and his wife, Nani, have two daughters. Calvillo and Nani have been involved in inner-city ministry for the span of their marriage and consider their efforts to seek the peace of their city as integral to their Christian faith.

“I was drawn to sociology because as a discipline it offers a particular set of tools that help us to better understand the social structures that shape us. Sociology, when taught from a Christian perspective, is infused with values that spur us on to work towards the common good and to transform those structures that tarnish the image of God embedded in all human beings. As Christ followers, we are to be wise in assessing the needs of those around us, not only at the the individual level, but also at the aggregate level. Combining Christ’s efforts in reaching out to the marginalized with a broad understanding of how people come to be marginalized, facilitates the formation of students who are ready to live out the gospel in tangible and transformative ways. When Christian higher education trains students in this way, empowering them to engage the world, it shines bright as a model of Christian discipleship.”

Jean Chung

Assistant Professor of Nursing

Jean Chung, assistant professor of nursing, received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Biola in 1993. She also holds a master’s degree in education and is currently obtaining a master’s degree in public health from California State University, Long Beach. She began her nursing career at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier, Calif., but wanted to focus on preventive wellness, so she became a public health nurse. In 2011, Chung transitioned into the classroom as a nursing instructor and began teaching public health theory and practicum. She is married and has three children, and in her spare time she enjoys reading and traveling.

“Nursing is a competitive field. There are many nursing programs that weed out students from their programs. However, Biola thoughtfully and prayerfully admits students and supports and commits to helping them graduate. As a graduate of Biola’s nursing program, I’ve had the privilege of praying with my professors and having them pray for me. Every specialty of nursing is taught with an emphasis on spiritual care. This allows the students to confidently display the love of Jesus in their care for others. Nursing becomes more than just a career — it becomes a calling and a mission.”

Kent Dunnington

Associate Professor of Philosophy

Dr. Kent Dunnington, associate professor of philosophy, comes to Biola from Greenville College in Illinois, where he has taught philosophy and theology for the past eight years. His areas of study include virtue ethics and the philosophy of religion. Other research interests include addiction and criminal justice, inspired by his experiences teaching in prison. Dunnington likes to play sports — especially basketball and tennis — and watch sports, especially his hometown team, the Kansas City Royals. He spent the spring 2015 semester at Biola University’s Center for Christian Thought, where he experienced hospitality and friendship that make him eager to join the Biola community.

“Christian higher education is discipleship of the mind. The Christian university acts as an arm of the church, extending its catechetical reach. Its task is not to add piety to an otherwise unchanged educational product but rather to teach students how to see the world Christianly and to act in light of that Christian vision. To ask about the value of Christian higher education is to ask about the value of seeing the world as created by the Triune God and transformed by Jesus’ reconciling work. What Christian higher education aims for is thus supremely valuable. Of course one need not attend an institution of Christian higher education to have a Christianly transformed mind, but the worth of such institutions rests wholly on whether they make such transformation more accessible and abundant.”

Elmar Hashimov

Assistant Professor of English

Dr. Elmar Hashimov, assistant professor of English, was born on the balmy western coast of the Caspian Sea and grew up during the tumultuous era of the Soviet collapse. From an early age, he was fascinated by human communication and has been studying language and writing in their various forms for the last two decades. Most recently, he received a doctorate in rhetoric and writing at Ball State University, where he also taught and researched rhetoric, composition and digital literacies. His current research focuses on interdisciplinary writing, experiential learning, technology-mediated communication, reflective practice, and epistemology. Hashimov also enjoys art, philosophy, theology, travel, cooking, and comedy.

“A prominent liberal arts educator, writer, and scholar bell hooks argues that learning should always be ‘exciting, never boring,’ and that as teachers, we should engage our students’ very souls — cultivating and connecting their faith, knowledge, and values with social realities and the broader world. Followers of Christ have been entrusted with intellect and abilities — talents from the famed parable — that can impact the culture for his kingdom in powerful ways. Rather than distancing ourselves from academic, artistic, social, political, and other spheres (and thus burying our talents), we should engage them within today’s exciting and challenging realities. Equipping our students as whole persons, as they embrace this calling, is one of the most important roles of Christ-centered education. We strive to create sound scholarship and learning experiences that align with God’s redemptive work, seeing him transform lives through the renewal of minds (Rom. 12:2). Therein lies one of the thrilling aspects of teaching at Biola: We have the opportunity to mentor a smart, passionate, and faithful generation of young men and women who will reach the world for his kingdom.”

Zehavi Husser

Associate Professor of Art

Dr. Zehavi Husser, associate professor of art, grew up on the East Coast and attended the University of Florida, where she pursued a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in art history, with a concentration on the ancient world. She then completed her master’s and doctorate in classical archaeology at Princeton University. During her doctorate fieldwork, Husser travelled throughout Europe with her husband, Kahem. She has served as a trench master at an excavation in Cyprus and has taught both in the U.S. and overseas. Most recently, Husser has served as a project manager at the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning at Princeton University.

“Christian higher education values the development of a student’s character and judgment as much as his or her academic skills. Ultimately Christian higher education seeks to give meaning and purpose to a student’s intellectual pursuits.”


Jane E. Kim

Assistant Professor, Torrey Honors Institute

Dr. Jane E. Kim, assistant professor in the Torrey Honors Institute, was born in State College, Penn. and grew up in the Philadelphia area. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in English and in French, and received her doctorate in English literature from Cornell University, where she also taught as a lecturer in the English department. Her dissertation focused on the British Romantic poets’ engagement with Dante’s poetic theology. Kim’s current research interests include religion and literature and 18th and 19th-century British literature. She is looking forward to working with, and learning from, Biola’s faculty and students.

“I think that Christian higher education stands on the biblical idea that ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight’ (Prov. 9:10) and recognizes that spiritual understanding is not only meaningful, but also necessary for the scholarly pursuit of truth and wisdom. A Christian university education allows for the development of the whole person — mind, body, heart, and soul — so that students may become well-rounded and mature people of learning and integrity who are prepared to serve and contribute to society and the world in valuable ways. A Christian university also has the opportunity to serve as a powerful witness in the world through its example of love and scholarship. Christian community demonstrates the hope and love of Christ through fellowship, and, in a culture that is narrowly focused on easy knowledge, information and data, strong Christian scholarship proclaims the wisdom of Christ.”

Hyuna Lee

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Dr. Hyuna Lee, assistant professor of biological sciences, was born in Korea, raised in Paraguay for 15 years as missionary kid, and moved to the United States during high school. Her multicultural experience allows her to understand students coming from diverse communities and cultures. Lee’s research has investigated mitochondrial axonal transport using microfluidic platform, zebrafish regeneration properties, and in vivo dopamine d2 receptor studies in mice. Lee co-hosts a radio show featuring the lives of pastors’ and missionaries’ kids, and she greatly enjoys serving as a kindergarten pastor. She is thrilled to contribute to Biola University’s vision to equip students with a strong, Christ-centered science education.

“Human existence and the innate desire to comprehend the purpose and blueprint of life motivates us to advance our understanding of science. Nonetheless, limitations are inevitable — our capacity to understand such complex and intricate order ranging from the molecular pathways of the cell to vast diverse galaxies, exceeds human comprehension. Unexplainable existence and systems of the universe, and biological complications to life burden the brightest minds of higher education to actively search for an answer, only to realize they generated a plethora of new questions. Students entering higher education have already invested the majority of their lives in school. They now desire to invest a few more final years of schooling to polish their minds with wisdom and knowledge to survive and excel in this world. King Solomon speaks out in Proverbs 9:10 that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Yet, secular training in science negates the existence of the Creator, blocking our source of truth and convincing our minds to depend on our own understanding rather than God. Therefore, solid Christian higher education that equips students with the gospel and fosters intimacy with the Lord will ultimately lead to his divine guidance in this world, ultimately bringing glory to our Creator.”

Mark Makin

Instructor, Torrey Honors Institute

Dr. Mark Makin, instructor in the Torrey Honors Institute, graduated from Biola University and Torrey with his bachelor’s degree in philosophy, followed by an Master of Arts in Religion, in philosophy of religion from Yale University and his doctorate in philosophy from the University of California, Irvine. What excites him most about joining the Torrey faculty, besides the great books, is holistically mentoring students and collaborating with devoted colleagues. Mark specializes in contemporary metaphysics and epistemology, with a deep appreciation for the history of philosophy. His research focuses on the nature of explanation in metaphysics and its applications. In his free time, Mark enjoys playing jazz saxophone, indulging in Jane Austen film adaptations, rooting for the New York Giants, and exploring America’s national parks. Mark and his wife, Carri, also a graduate of Biola and Torrey, have been married for seven years and have one child.


As a new faculty member of Biola University's Torrey Honors Institute, I feel privileged to lead students into the riches of their intellectual and spiritual heritage in Christ Jesus. By learning under the likes of Augustine, Calvin, Shakespeare, and Milton, God transforms our students into winsome and whip-smart followers of Jesus, eager to share the gospel with the world around them. The true value of Christian higher education lies in students like these.

Bryan W. Moe

Assistant Professor of Communication Studies

Bryan Moe, assistant professor of communication studies, grew up in Southern California but spent seven of the last 10 years living and traveling in the American South and Pacific Islands. These journeys inform his academic interest in the communication practices of diverse cultures and in particular the rhetorical qualities of their food and foodways. Currently he is finishing his dissertation that looks at the culinary rise of new gourmet food trucks and the social movements that helped bring it to the public’s consciousness. He feels incredibly joyful and lucky to be back home and to be joining the Biola community.

“Through Christ, higher education is imbued with a love and kindness that other schools I have worked at could not openly share or fully embrace. Christ’s love and kindness become guiding factors in the process of learning and building skills needed in our world today. I feel that these holy gifts act as blessings upon the minds of the students and all parties connected to Biola in its mission to serve his kingdom.”

Joy Qualls

Associate Professor of Communication Studies

Dr. Joy Qualls, associate professor of communication studies, is pleased to be joining the communication studies department as chair and associate professor. Qualls is an alumna of Vanguard University and Regent University, where she earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate, respectively in communication studies, with research emphases in religious and political rhetoric. Most recently Joy served at Evangel University in Springfield, Mo. Joy is active in the National Communication Association and the Religious Communication Association. She is also a member of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. Her research agenda includes studies on gender and church leadership, evangelical political rhetoric, and rhetoric in the age of tolerance. Joy has been married to her husband Kevin for 10 years, and they have two children.


“Christian higher education today has more value that it probably ever has before. We are seeing dramatic shifts in the way that the church is perceived in our culture and one of the ways we address these shifts is not to pull back but to fully engage. Christian higher education is not a sheltering of students but a preparation ground where faith becomes their own, they wrestle with the questions of their generation and examine the wrestling of the past all in the context of a biblical worldview and theologically grounded context. Every believer is called to the ministry of the gospel. The mission field of art, literature, film, political communication, or nursing is ripe for the harvest and the workers are few. If we are to be good witnesses of Christ to these callings and in the greater community, we need to use education to build that foundation whereby the student cannot only be successful in the field, but also in their ministry to the gospel. Our students receive this every day in an uncompromising way.” 

Itzel Reyes

Assistant Professor of Spanish

Dr. Itzel Reyes, assistant professor of Spanish, is very excited to be joining the full-time faculty in the modern languages department, where she served as adjunct professor for the past year and a half. Reyes recently completed her doctorate from University of California, Irvine with a dissertation titled, “Espacios que asustan: Narrar el horror en el cine y el cuento español contemporáneo” (Scary Spaces: Narrating Horror in Contemporary Spanish Film and Short Story). Her research interests include Spanish horror, historical memory and second language teaching and acquisition. She is involved in prison ministry, high school ministry, Spanish and soccer ministries. At Biola she feels blessed by the opportunity to pour into Biola students in helping fulfill the university’s mission of equipping students to impact the world in service of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Universities are sources of information and knowledge that seek to develop critical thinkers and equip students to impact their respective fields. Secular higher education institutions fail to prioritize matters of the soul and to regard God as the ultimate source of knowledge, as stated in Proverbs 2:6 and Colossians 2:2. Christian higher education plays a pivotal role in the development of Christian thinkers who position Christ at the center of all truth and knowledge, and from this premise delve deeper into their studies. Additionally, the developing of Christian character is one of the most essential objectives in Christian universities; personal relationships and spiritual development are amongst the most important factors in a Christ-centered institution. Faculty at Christian universities consider their teaching a calling in which they are personally invested in the lives and development of their students.”

Bill Simon

Assistant Professor of Journalism and Integrated Media

Bill Simon joins Biola’s journalism and integrated media department as assistant professor with a focus on public relations and media relations. Simon is an experienced media professional who praises collegians pursuing journalism and public relations as modern-day “shepherds of storytelling and influence.” For more than 25 years, Simon has advanced the communication needs of many notable organizations such as the California Space Authority, U.S. Dept. of Labor, NASA, Regal Books, Salem Communications Corp. and more. He is a former member of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., a life-time member of Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, and a volunteer supporter of Bernabé Community Center in Norwalk. Simon is a native of Southern California and hopes to pursue his doctorate in the near future.

Suzanne Welty

Associate Professor of Communication Science and Disorders

Dr. Suzanne Welty joins the communication sciences and disorders department this term as associate professor after serving as adjunct faculty since 2011. She has been employed for over two decades in public schools as a speech language pathologist and special education teacher. Welty has specialized in diagnosing and remediating communication, behavioral and social challenges of individuals diagnosed with autism and other developmental disabilities. She counts it a privilege to serve at Biola and is passionate about equipping her students to become competent and compassionate speech and language pathologists.

“In the field of communication sciences and disorders our students are trained to serve those who struggle to communicate due to speech, language, cognitive and swallowing disorders. At Biola our students not only have the opportunity to excel in the skills and competencies as speech language pathologists, but to integrate their studies with their faith in Christ.  As students are learning biblical and ethical practices hand in hand they are equipped to meet challenges with wisdom from above. Our students learn to look to Jesus as the example of serving the infirmed with love and compassion, and model that compassion as they begin to interact with clients within our program.  It is my prayer that this strong Christian foundation will equip them as both competent and compassionate professionals as they graduate that they would serve as lights within a dark world.”

Bethany Williamson

Assistant Professor of English

Dr. Bethany Williamson, assistant professor of English,  recently completed her doctorate at Southern Methodist University, where she specialized in 17th and 18th-century British literature and the problems posed by globalization and empire during the Enlightenment and beyond. A New Jersey native, Williamson is happy to be close to the ocean again and welcomes all advice about adjusting to life on the West Coast. When not reading and writing, she enjoys playing works by her favorite piano composers (Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven), traveling, trying new recipes, hiking and camping. She relishes good questions and conversations of all kinds, both in and out of the classroom — between texts and characters, past and present, different cultures and worldviews — and is excited to join the Biola community.

“From Jonathan Swift's satires to Jane Austen's love plots, great literature offers us carefully crafted worlds in which we see reflected and imagined the human story across time: foibles and triumphs, faith and doubt, brokenness and redemption. There is great value, for the Christian, in learning to read carefully and critically, delighting in the beauty of language and its power to challenge and to change us.”

Talbot School of Theology


Leon Harris I.

Assistant Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies

Dr. Leon Harris, assistant professor of biblical and theological studies, graduated from Talbot School of Theology with a master’s degree in divinity and a master’s in theology. He received a doctorate in divinity from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, where his thesis was on pneumatology as communion and koinonia. Harris has presented several papers at theology conferences both in the U.K. and at Evangelical Theological Society in the U.S. and has published book reviews and articles in several theological journals. He enjoys participating in the life of the church and is currently a life group leader at his local church. His current research interests include pneumatology, ecclesiology, black theology and the family, and relational ontology.


“For me, a Christian higher education represents one way that we participate in the Holy Spirit’s work of bringing Jesus Christ to a world that has forgotten the power of the gospel. As the professors and the students engage in constructing a Christ-like way of living, the students become the realization to the world of God’s power to love and redeem through the risen Christ. Since my area is systematic theology, it is imperative that students have a grasp of how God’s revelation in the Scriptures are relevant and applicable to our modern world. Theology is not simply the study of a generic idea of God, but the study of what God has and is accomplishing in and through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Daniel E. Kim

Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Semitics

Dr. Daniel E. Kim, assistant professor of Old Testament and Semitics, joins the Talbot faculty full time after 15 years on the Biola campus as a student at both Biola and Talbot, and later as an adjunct professor of Old Testament. Kim’s current research interests include the Psalms, the use of the Old Testament in the New, Mesopotamian literature and the ancient Near Eastern background of the Old Testament. Having been both a pastor and elder at various churches for several years, Kim has a fervent heart for the local church, and in particular for special needs ministries. Kim regularly preaches and teaches at churches and conferences in the U.S. and internationally.

“Truth matters. Contradictions abound in today's society; people believe in ‘scientific’ facts, but also believe that they themselves are the final authority on what is true, or ‘real.’ Since the beginning of time, humankind has always had this propensity, but now more than ever, the contradiction has become increasingly inscrutable. As we face today's often paradoxical culture, it has never been more evident in history that we must rise above the fray to seek beyond the perplexing paradigm(s) of the modern society; to understand the truths of the universe and to know from whom truth originates. Biola stands for truth — to stand in the gap between the light and darkness. For those who have the courage to seek out these truths and are willing to sacrifice what is only temporary for the eternal, Biola is here to equip all those who want to share in radiating this guiding light. Truth touches every discipline, and indeed every part of life. Whichever path one takes, whether the arts, humanities, or sciences, truth matters – now more than ever.”

Ryan Peterson

Assistant Professor of Theology

Dr. Ryan Peterson, assistant professor of theology, desires to help students grow in their knowledge and love of God through active participation in the church’s theological task. He teaches systematic theology with a commitment to recover the theological and spiritual insights of the Christian tradition for the sake of contemporary appropriation. Peterson’s research interests focus on the areas of theological anthropology and theological method, including the theological interpretation of Scripture. His current projects include a book on the imago Dei, the subject of his doctoral dissertation, and a co-authored volume on the nature of theological language.

“Christian higher education provides a wonderful context for faculty, staff, and students to pursue holistic formation: heart, mind, soul, and strength. At Biola, we have the opportunity to engage in the full range of academic and professional studies, seeking God’s truth in all of its fullness. Knowing and loving God and God’s world is at the heart of what we do, and it is a privilege to participate in this endeavor.”

Karin Stetina

Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies

Dr. Karin Stetina, associate professor of biblical and theological studies, is passionate about teaching theology that is aimed at loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Stetina taught theology and church history for nearly 20 years at Wheaton College and at various churches. She has been a consultant and an associate editor for Luther Digest. Stetina’s research interests include Reformation Theology and the theology of John Calvin, Martin Luther, and Jonathan Edwards, as well as the theology of education and reading theology with discernment. She is married to AJ Stetina and is blessed with four wonderful children.

Melissa Tan

Instructor in Biblical and Theological Studies

Professor Melissa Tan, instructor in biblical and theological studies, hails from London, England. She gained a B.A. in Latin with Greek from University College London. After graduating, she moved to Taipei, Taiwan, where she spent six years working as a writer and editor for a Christian organization specializing in producing ESL TV and radio shows, magazines and other multimedia products, all as a form of pre-evangelism. Melissa moved to Southern California in 2009 to pursue two degrees at Talbot, while also ministering to the Talbot student community through Talbot Associated Students. Since graduating, Melissa has been teaching Biblical Interpretation and Spiritual Formation to Biola undergrads, and looks forward to serving Biola and Talbot students even more as full-time faculty.

“The world is becoming more and more antagonistic and unsympathetic toward Christians. This is both a daunting challenge and a precious opportunity for Christians to articulate their faith with the utmost clarity and grace. And so, integrating Christianity into higher education provides students the knowledge and training on how to best do this. As higher education prepares students for the workplace, integrating Christianity also prepares students on how to make godly decisions and how to be witnesses (“salt and light”) to God’s love and glory in that same workplace.”

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  • KUNGU GEORGE Jul. 20, 2016 at 1:36 PM

    Hello, The foundation of Biola University is what impresses me a lot. After meeting Karin Stetina - Associate Professor in Grand rapids in mid June 2016, who we had a brief talk on the college, I have developed a keen interest to join the college. I am a PhD student in Kenya with specialization in finance. I have finished my course work . I have two MBA's in specialization in strategic management and finance. Please advise on the same. Thank you

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