Eric Alai, a native of Peoria, Illinois, earned a BA in English from Illinois State University in 2000, where he won the prestigious “Anne Keaton Award for Promising Writers. He earned an MA in Language and Literature from Western Illinois University in 2003 and was employed at Carl Sandburg College from 2004-11 as an English instructor, teaching composition, creative writing, and literature. In 2016, he moved to Louisiana and began his position at LSUA as an English Instructor. Alai’s writing credits are many: in 1999, he published a chapbook of poetry titled Northland. He won First Place in the Poetry Category and Third Place in the Adult Short Story Category of “Galesburg Public Library’s Annual Creative Writing Contest 2016” sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. He was published in The Bluffs Literary Journal in 2016. In 2021, he received an Honorable Mention in the 2021 “Flash Fiction Contest” held by the LSUA Department of English and Humanities; and he won 1st Place in the 2022 “Flash Fiction Contest.” In 2021, Alai was awarded the “Mark Eugene Howard Endowed Professorship in Liberal Arts” for work on LSUA’s literary and art journal, the Jongleur, for which he has been Editor-in Chief since 2016. Currently, Alai is working on publishing a completed biography on his parents, writing a fantasy novel, and also writing a television series.
Elizabeth M. Beard Ph.D.
Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dean of College of Liberal Arts, Associate Professor of English
Elizabeth Milton Beard is Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at LSUA. A proud central Louisiana native, Dr. Beard has been on the English faculty at LSUA since 2005. She graduated from Rapides High School (class of ’92); earned her BA in English, Secondary Education from Spring Hill College; and completed her MA and PhD in English at LSU Baton Rouge. Dr. Beard was the founding coordinator of the LSUA Writing Center, a Louisiana Writing Project teacher consultant, and is the current holder of the Richard Bryan Gwartney Endowed Professorship in the Liberal Arts. Her areas of research and teaching include writing pedagogy and regional literature. Dr. Beard serves on the LSUA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Team, the Alexandria Museum of Art Board of Directors, and the Generals Athletic Association Board.
Dr. Alice Blackwell received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. She teaches British Literature I, Chaucer, Milton, and Literature and Religion. She advises English and Humanities majors. She is on the Editorial Board of the Oak Leaf, the LSUA Journal of Teaching and Research.
In searching for his life’s work, Dr. Seth Bovey vacillated between reading literature and playing rock music; eventually, he chose the study of language and literature as his vocation and the enjoyment of music as his avocation. Dr. Bovey’s academic career began at Texas A&M University, where he studied architecture before earning a B.S. degree in Building Construction in 1979. Moving to the cultural mecca of Austin, Texas, he wrote science fiction, played in a couple of rock bands, and worked in a bookstore, where his exposure to a wide array of information steered him toward graduate school. Returning to Texas A&M, he earned a Master’s degree in English in 1987, then went on to the University of New Mexico to earn a Ph.D. in English with specializations in nineteenth-century American literature and Western American literature.
Dr. Bovey then began working as an assistant professor here at LSU Alexandria in 1992, where he has mainly taught courses in freshman composition, American literature, and literature and film. Nothing gives him greater satisfaction than helping a student write something that another educated adult would find worth reading. Yet Dr. Bovey has also found time to pursue his scholarly interests, publishing articles in such journals as American Indian Quarterly, American Literary Realism, Popular Music and Society, and the Journal of Popular Culture. For many years, he was a member of the Western Literature Association, presenting many papers at their annual conferences. More recently, he has been active in the Popular Culture Association and has presented papers on spaghetti Western films as well as the interaction between professional wrestling and rock music.
Most recently, Dr. Bovey published a book called Five Years Ahead of My Time: Garage Rock from the 1950s to the Present (Reaktion, 2019). By discussing the contributions of rock bands such as Paul Revere and the Raiders, The 13th Floor Elevators, The Gories, and The Jackets, he shows that garage rock has caused rock music to evolve and flourish while also saving rock and roll from the commercial forces that want to turn it into pop music. In 2019, Five Years Ahead of My Time won the Shindig! Writer’s Poll for the Best Music Book of the Year.
Brenda Roberts Ellington, Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Associate Professor of English, has been an LSUA faculty member since 1987. Dr. Ellington was born in Lecompte, just a few miles south of LSUA. She earned a BA in Library Science at Louisiana Tech University; then as a University of Southwestern Louisiana / ULL Ragin’ Cajun, she earned teaching certifications in Library Science and English, an M.Ed. in Secondary Education, and a Ph.D. in English, majoring in Rhetoric and minoring in Linguistics, Early American Literature, and African American Literature. Dr. Ellington was a National Writing Project Teacher Consultant and has twice held the Mark Eugene Howard Endowed Professorship. Her teaching areas include Technical Writing, Professional Writing, Grammar, and Linguistics.
William Cole Franklin is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies in the Department of Communication, Languages, and Art at LSUA. He has served on the LSUA faculty since 2022. A central Louisiana native, Dr. Franklin graduated from Pineville High School and Louisiana College. He earned his M.A. in Communication from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas and his Ph.D. in Speech Communication from The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Dr. Franklin has extensive teaching experience, having served in the past on the faculty at Louisiana College, University of Louisiana at Monroe, Mississippi College, East Texas Baptist University, and LSUA. His areas of research and teaching include public communication, argumentation and persuasion, and instructional/curriculum development.
Bernard Gallagher Ph.D.
Chair, Department of English, History, and Humanities and Professor of English
Bernard Gallagher, who is the Chair of the department of English, History, and Humanities and a Professor of English at LSUA, earned his Ph.D. from SUNY Binghamton (now Binghamton University) in 1983, his M.A. from the University of Montana in 1975, and his B.A. from the University of Montana in 1971. He is interested in narrative and the way in which it shapes identities. He has published articles on the works of Byron, Stephen King, and Jane Auel and has presented several papers exploring the works of James Lee Burke, Arna Bontemps, and John Dufresne. The Journal of Louisiana Folklife recently accepted his article “Motorcycles Welcome But Not Required.” He also has completed series of Tankas called The Importance of Crickets and is reworking a novel called A House Divided.
Robert Harper is Director of Theatre at Louisiana State University of Alexandria. A native of Cheneyville, Robert began his theatre career over forty years ago as a performer with City Park Players in Alexandria. He holds advanced degrees in theatre and music, and has worked on professional, regional, and community stages across the country, including Los Angeles Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Baltimore Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Florida State Opera. At LSUA, his productions include The Fantasticks, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Doubt, God of Carnage, Boeing Boeing, and The Lion in Winter. Some of his favorite roles have included Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, John Adams in 1776, The Baker in Into the Woods, The Jester in Once Upon A Mattress, Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the title role in Macbeth.
Assistant Professor of Performing Arts/Howard and Eloise Mulder Endowed Chair
A nationally accredited public relations practitioner, Melissa C LaBorde, APR, is an associate professor of communication studies and has been part of the LSUA family since 1992. She completed her academic work at the University of Louisiana in Monroe and then directed LSUA's public relations, marketing, and fundraising efforts as director of Institutional Advancement and executive director of the LSUA Foundation. Among the highlights of her administrative career are managing the LSUA Children's Center project, planning the LSUA 40th and 50th anniversary celebrations, coordinating the communication efforts supporting the LSUA transition to 4-year status, and building the university's endowment fund including numerous scholarships and professorships. After 15 years as an administrator, LaBorde transitioned to a full-time faculty position where she teaches public relations and mass communication courses and oversees the department's internship placements. She proudly holds the Carolyn Cole Saunders Endowed Professorship, her fourth professorship award. She is a past member of the Universal Accreditation Board for public relations practitioners and serves as a mentor to public relations students and young professionals throughout Cenla. She is an award-winning PR practitioner and was recently inducted into the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame.
Shonu Nangia did his Ph.D. in Modern Languages with a major in French literature and minor in Spanish language from Wayne State University. His Master’s degree is in French translation and interpretation. His scholarly work has appeared in Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, Michigan Academician, Folia Linguistica et Literaria, The Journal of College Writing, Louisiana Communication Journal, and a host of other places. He is also the author of the book Male-Female Relations in the Literary Maghreb: Poetics and Politics of Violence and Liberation in Francophone North African Literature by Tahar Ben Jelloun. With expertise in globalization, French and Francophone literature, French and Spanish language pedagogy, technology in language instruction, and translation studies, he also enjoys organizing on-campus film festivals and yoga and meditation workshops. He recently collaborated with LSUA’s Center for Opportunity, Research and Experiential Learning to design and teach a High Impact Practices Seminar Course titled Walking Lightly on the Planet: An Experiential Course in Sustainable Living.
Since 2017 David has been a communication instructor at Louisiana State University of Alexandria. He teaches Communication Fundamentals, Public Speaking, Media Writing, Visual Communications and various courses in the newly-redesigned Sports Communication concentration. Additionally, for more than 20 years, he has also taught new media design—digital video, digital animation, 3D design, interactive design and motion graphics. He services as the faculty sponsor for the LSUA student media, the Sentry Podcast.
David was recently appointed assistant director of the newly-created Center for Technology and Innovation at LSUA (Technovation Center), where one of his roles includes coaching and mentoring middle- and high-school students on REC Foundation Aerial Drone Competition teams. He is energized by helping students program and fly Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (drones) at a national competition level.
David is a 2022-2023 DoD STEM Ambassador where he advocates for drone education and the inclusion of the arts and humanities within STEM programs (STEAM).
David has a bachelor’s degree in English/mass communication from Auburn University at Montgomery and a master’s degree in mass communications from Texas State University-San Marcos.
Jeremy Simmons was raised in the Flint Hills of Eastern Kansas. Growing up in the rolling hills of rural Kansas on a cattle farm gave Jeremy a deep appreciation for interacting with and observing landscapes, nature, and animals. A great deal of his time growing up also was spent reading mythologies, comics, and drawing. These interests were translated into pursuing art as a career. Jeremy was also inspired to become an educator by his grandfather and grandmother who had careers as teachers.
After completing a BFA in Painting, a BSE in Art Education, and a year of teaching pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, Jeremy was accepted to the graduate painting program at Indiana University, Bloomington. The painting program at Indiana was a match with Jeremy’s own interest in figurative, narrative, and perceptual painting.
His artworks tell the audience more about themselves when they are with them. Viewers redress the works with their own experiences to find their own spiritual moment. The artist explains,
“My paintings deal with the human condition. I select objects, subjects, and experiences that reveal a sense of the spiritual in my response to them. I am influenced by expressionism in the way I spiritually respond to the life of the paint to render forms on the surface of canvas. The works reveal a delicate surface of honesty through their record of evident painterliness. A sense of uncanny agreement between the painting and life occurs as I balance formalism, poetic interpretation, and subjects and symbols to create narrative images.”
After graduating from Indiana University, Jeremy accepted an art faculty position at Louisiana State University in Alexandria in 2004. He has exhibited his paintings in one and two person shows as well as various juried exhibitions. As a faculty member at Louisiana State University in Alexandria, he teaches painting, drawing, design, color theory, ceramics, art history, digital photography, and art education.
Matthew Stokes is an Instructor of English and has taught English for more than eight years. Besides teaching composition and the occasional literature course, Mr. Stokes teaches composition for ESL students. Mr. Stokes is the Faculty Coordinator of the campus Writing Center. Mr. Stokes graduated from Pineville High in 1999, earned his B.A. in Multimedia from Louisiana College in 2003, and received his M.A. in English from Louisiana Tech University in 2014. Mr. Stokes wrote a master’s thesis on humankind’s responsibility in managing nature in the works of Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and most notably, William Faulkner. Mr. Stokes has taught English as a second language in China for two years, and he has since been back to China numerous times for short-term teaching assignments and travel. He has published the short memoir, "A Hunt Lost - A Friend Retained (Hopefully)," which can be found at Dead Mule.
Chair, Department of Communication, Languages, and Arts and Assistant Professor of Communication Studies
Jessica Marsh Thacker is a Louisiana native who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from East Texas Baptist University. She then moved to Waco, Texas, where she was employed by Baylor University prior to receiving her Master of Arts degree in Journalism from Baylor. Jessica is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Louisiana State University of Alexandria, and she currently serves as Department Chair for Communication, Languages and Arts in the College of Liberal Arts. She is the recipient of two Endowed Professorships, an Excellence in Teaching award from the National Society of Leadership and Success, and a Bolton Award nominee. Jessica is married to Chris Thacker, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Alexandria, and they have three sons, Jack, Henry and Simon.
Dr. Holly L Wilson is a Professor of Philosophy and Religion. She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Pennsylvania State University, a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University, New Orleans, and a B.A. in Philosophical Anthropology from Vanderbilt University. She has studied at German universities and has taught English in Japan. She has dedicated her life-long scholarship to writing on Immanuel Kant, an 18th Century German philosopher. Her book, Kant’s Pragmatic Anthropology, has been cited 164 times in counting in many different languages. Her ground-breaking research has spurred further research into this area of Kant. Dr. Wilson’s article, “The Green Kant,” has been anthologized in several textbooks and is taught in many different universities in Environmental Ethics courses. Currently, Dr. Wilson is working on a book called: “The Happiness Experiment” which shows the convergence of seven religions on the question of what happiness is and how to get it. She teaches in the Religious Studies program, and she also teaches philosophy courses like PHIL 4922 “Plato.” She advises Humanities majors and Religious Studies majors. Her research can be found at Google Scholar, Academia Edu, Philpapers, and Research Gate. She is an Associate Editor of Environmental Ethics at the international Journal of Ethics. She is also on the Editorial Board of the Oak Leaf, the LSUA Journal of Teaching and Research.
Min Wu, an associate professor of communication studies, earned her Ph.D. in communication from Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN) in 2011. Her research and teaching at LSU-Alexandria focus on the intersections of intercultural communication, health communication, and computer mediated communication. She has published papers in journals such as China Media Research and Asian Journal of Communication. As a communication educator, Dr. Wu enjoys teaching both online and in-person classes of communication. She also mentors students in honors projects and independent studies. Dr. Wu was the holder of LSUA’s Vinita Johnson Martin Endowed Professorship and is the faculty advisor of the LSUA chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Association’s honor society for communication majors.