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Honors Faculty & Staff

Honors Program Director

Dr. Michael Howarth

Dr. Michael Howarth was appointed Director of the Honors Program in 2012. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English from James Madison University along with a minor in Secondary Education and a minor in Film Studies. He received his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska at Anchorage. And he received his Ph.D. in Literary and Cultural Studies from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

As a Professor of English, his primary teaching areas include children's literature, young adult literature, film studies, American literature to 1900, creative writing, and nineteenth-century British literature. He also serves on the advisory board for Mise-en-scene: The Journal of Film and Visual Narration and is a member of the editorial board for Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy.

Dr. Howarth has published numerous short stories, articles, and essays. He is also the author of Under the Bed, Creeping: Psychoanalyzing the Gothic in Children’s Literature (2014); Movies to See before You Graduate from High School (2019); and the young adult novel Fair Weather Ninjas (2016). His newest novel A Still and Awful Red was published in 2021.

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Dr. Michael Howarth
Honors Program Assistant Director

Dr. Jody Jensen

Dr. Jody Jensen is an Assistant Professor of English. She earned her Ph.D. in Postcolonial Theory and Literatures at the University of North Dakota and her master’s degree at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota with a focus in African American literatures and theory.

Her research and teaching interests focus on postcolonial literature and theory, gender and transnationalism, postcolonial pedagogy, South Asian literature of Partition, South African literatures of Apartheid, global literatures of exile and diaspora, film and visual media, and composition.

Dr. Jensen recently published a collaborative article, with Dr. Rebecca-Weaver Hightower, in Settler Colonial Studies on the gender dynamics of settler belonging and her current research focuses on a postcolonial examination of gender and nationalism in Nadine Gordimer’s Burger’s Daughter.

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Dr. Jody Jensen
Honors Program Coordinator

Julie Christiansen

Julie Christiansen has worked at Missouri Southern since 2021. She holds an M.A. in Higher Education from Purdue University, and a B.A. in Liberal Studies from the University of California- Riverside. She is the program coordinator for the Honors program, as well as the Global Leaders program. In her free time you can find her hanging out with her kids, playing with her cats, or gardening.

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julie christiansen
Honors Instructor

Dr. William Mountz

Dr. Mountz began his career at MSSU in 2017. He earned a Ph.D. in History from the University of Missouri in Columbia. He also holds an M.A. in History from Texas Tech University, and a B.A. in History & Journalism (double major) from Angelo State University. In addition to serving as Director of Adult Degree Completion, he also serves as an instructor in the Honors Program, teaching Honors Forum, Service Learning, and special topics seminars.

Dr. Mountz is also active in the community. He serves as a Commissioner for the Joplin Historic Preservation Commission and as a Board Member for Heartland Opera Theatre. In his free time, he enjoys reading, running, and exploring the Four States area.

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Dr. William Mountz
Honors Instructional Designer

Diana Fordham

Diana Fordham is an accomplished education professional with extensive experience in instructional design and curriculum development. She holds a Master of Education with an emphasis in Instructional Design from Capella University, where she honed her skills in creating effective and engaging learning experiences.

In addition to her expertise in education, Diana also has a deep understanding of history and its role in shaping societies. She earned a Master of History with a concentration in Middle Eastern History, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Bachelor of Liberal Studies in Judaic Studies. Her passion for history has allowed her to bring a unique perspective to her work in education.

Diana is a Blackboard Certified Trainer, which demonstrates her proficiency in using technology to enhance the learning experience. Her ability to blend technology with traditional teaching methods has earned her a reputation as an innovative and effective educator. In the Honors Program, she teaches Honors Forum, Senior Portfolio, and special topics seminars.

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Feel free to call the office at: 417-625-3005

Diana Fordham