Directors and Advisory Board


  • Dr. Jimmy L. Bryan Jr., Director and Professor, Department of History
    Director and Professor, Department of History

    Dr. Bryan, studies the cultural history of the early nineteenth-century United States with an emphasis on manliness, expansionism, and frontiers. He wrote The American Elsewhere: Adventure and Manliness in the Age of Expansion (University Press of Kansas, 2017), which the Western Literature Association named second runner-up for the 2018 Thomas J. Lyon Award for the best book in Western American Literary and Cultural Studies. He also authored More Zeal Than Discretion: The Westward Adventures of Walter P. Lane (Texas A&M University Press, 2008) and edited Inventing Destiny: Cultural Explorations of U.S. Expansion (University Press of Kansas, 2019) and The Martial Imagination: Cultural Aspects of American Warfare (Texas A&M University Press, 2013). Dr. Bryan teaches the U.S. surveys as well as courses on U.S. cultural history, Texas, the West, Native America, and the Civil War. He also serves as editor of the Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record

  • Dr. Brendan Gillis, Assistant Director and Assistant Professor, Department of History (on leave AY 2022-2023)

    Assistant Director and Associate Professor, Department of History (on leave AY 2023-2024)

    Dr. Gillis received an AB from Harvard University, M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge, and Ph.D. from Indiana University. He teaches courses on early North America, Great Britain, and the British Empire. A cultural historian of law and government, he is working on a book project titled Cosmopolitan Parochialism: A Global History of the British Magistrate, 1690-1835, which highlights the role of local decisions in constructing broader systems of rule. The American Antiquarian Society awarded Dr. Gillis the Hench Post-Dissertation Fellowship to support his research and writing. He has also received funding from such institutions at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at UCLA, the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies. Dr. Gillis is currently on leave serving as the Manager of Teaching and Learning at the American Historical Association in Washington, D.C.

  • Dr. Adam Nemmers, Interim Assistant Director and Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

    Interim Assistant Director and Associate Professor, Department of English and Modern Languages

    Hailing from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Adam Nemmers has been an Assistant Professor of Literature at Lamar University since 20017. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he serves as faculty advisor for Pulse, LU's student-run literary magazine, and co-editor of the Lamar Journal of the Humanities. His research interests include modernism, American ethnic literature(s), literary theory, and creative writing.

  • Ree Stelly, Administrative Assistant
    Administrative Assistant

Advisory Board Members

  • Dr. Rebecca Boone, Chair and Professor, Department of History

    Chair and Professor, Department of History

    Dr. Rebecca Boone serves as professor in the Department of History at Lamar University. She teaches courses on the Renaissance and Reformation, Early Modern Europe, the French Revolution and Napoleon, the Atlantic World, Witchcraft and the Occult, Ancient Greece and Rome, and the History of Food, among others. Her Issues in World Cultures II course was cited as exemplary by the Center for Educational Policy Research. An intellectual and cultural historian, Dr. Boone researches the relationship between information and state power in the early modern world. Her books include War, Domination and the Monarchy of France (Brill, 2007), Mercurino di Gattinara and the Creation of the Spanish Empire (Routledge, 2015), and Real Lives in the Sixteenth Century: A Global Perspective (Routledge, 2018). She is also the general editor of a five-book series on global history, Real Lives in Global Perspective. In 2018, Dr. Boone was awarded a grant from MIT and the Andrew Mellon Foundation to complete a module for the Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative.

  • Penny Clark, Archivist for Lamar University and Special Collections

    Archivist for Lamar University and Special Collections.

    Penny Clark served on the Spindletop 2001 Commission and co-edited, with Evelyn M. Lord, its commemorative book, On the Road to the Big Day and Beyond.  She has given numerous scholarly presentations, including “Pursuing Petroleum Riches: Lamar University Special Collection” at the West Texas Historical Association meeting in April 2015, and “Glory Days: The Second Spindletop and its Architecture” at the Gulf South History and Humanities Conference, October 2014.

  • Dr. Terri Davis, Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Political Science

    Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Political Science

    Dr. Davis received her Ph.D. in Government from the University of Texas in 1997. Her research is published in the Journal of Urban Studies Research, Comparative Sociology, SAGE Open, Law and Politics Book Review, Open Journal of Political Science, and the Journal of the History of European Ideas.  Dr. Davis is MPA Director and Pre-Law Advisor at Lamar, where she has also served as President of the Faculty Senate.  Her numerous awards include University Merit Award, Teaching Excellence Award, Distinguished Faculty Lecturer, American Political Science Association’s Outstanding Teacher, and the Jefferson County Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award.

  • Dr. Margot Gage Witvliet, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice

    Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice

    Dr. Margot Gage is a social epidemiologist and assistant professor at Lamar University. She earned her Ph.D. in social epidemiology and public health from the University of Amsterdam/Amsterdam Medical Center from the Department of Public Health. During her Ph.D., she visited UCLA to carry out research. Before coming to Lamar University, Dr. Gage completed two post-doctoral fellowships at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in the Department of Sociology, where she also served as principal investigator. During her Norwegian postdoctoral period, she completed a research visit to Harvard University. Dr. Gage has written over 17 peer-reviewed journal publications and has over 100 citations. Reuters News quoted her for her co-authored research on lone motherhood. Her co-authored publication on corruption and health is cited by the United Nations. She has won a number of awards and has been invited to present her research at international conferences. Dr. Gage speaks Dutch fluently. She is a veteran advocate and is building Texas's first Women Veteran and Women First Responder Park. She teaches courses in research methods, epidemiology and global health, global health disparity, marijuana and medicine and introduction to sociology.

  • Rayanna Hoeft, Director of Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown

    Director, Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown

    Rayanna Hoeft obtain her B.A. in History from the University of Texas in Arlington, graduating summa cum laude. She obtain her M.A. in History with a concentration in Public History from Texas State University in San Marcos and received the Liddle Teaching Fellowship in the History department. Rayanna interned with the Education Department at the LBJ Presidential Library, University of Texas at Austin. She taught A.P. World History and U.S. Government/Economics in Wimberley ISD. Before joining Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown, Rayanna Hoeft served as Director of Educational Programming at the McFaddin-Ward House Museum in Beaumont, Texas.

  • Katherine Hoerth, Associate Professor, Department of English and Modern Languages

    Associate Professor, Department of English and Modern Languages

    Katherine Hoerth joined Lamar University as an Assistant Professor of English in Fall 2017. She serves as editor-in-chief of the Lamar University Literary Press and poetry editor of Amarillo Bay and Devilfish Review. Her poetry books include Goddess Wears Cowboy Boots, which won the Helen C. Smith Prize from the Texas Institute of Letters in 2018, and The Lost Chronicles of Slue Foot Sue, published Fall 2017 from Angelina River Press. Her work has been included in journals such as Southwestern American LiteratureTHINK Journal, and Pleiades. She is the President of the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers.

  • Dennis Kiel, Director of the Dishman Art Museum at Lamar University

    Director of the Dishman Art Museum at Lamar University

    Before joining the Dishman, Kiel was Chief Curator at The Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film in Charlotte, N.C.  Prior to his appointment at The Light Factory, Kiel served as Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Cincinnati Art Museum for 24 years.  He also taught the history of photography at Northern Kentucky University at Highland Heights.  Kiel received a BFA in Graphic Design from Ohio University and M.A. in Art History from the University of Cincinnati.

  • Dr. Stefan Krause, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice

    Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice

    Dr. Stefan Krause is a visiting assistant professor and Faculty Advisor for the Anthropology program here at Lamar University. He is also the former cultural anthropologist for the Federated States of Micronesia.

  • Judith Linsley, Past CHC Director

    Past CHC Director

    In addition to her work with the CHC, Linsley is a researcher at the McFaddin-Ward House Museum, where she formerly held the position of Curator of Interpretation and Education. She received a B.A. in Spanish and an M.A. in History from Lamar, and she has previously taught as an adjunct instructor for the History Department. Many of you may be familiar with Judy's scholarship. She has published extensively on the history of Beaumont and Southeast Texas, co-authoring Beaumont: A Chronicle of Promise; The McFaddin-Ward House; and the award-winning Giant Under the Hill: A History of the Spindletop Oil Discovery at Beaumont, Texas, in 1901. She has also published articles appearing in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly and in the Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record, as well as for the Local Writers Project for the Center for Regional Heritage Research at Stephen F. Austin University. Her historical interests include the African American experience, women, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Texas, and oral interviews.

  • Donna Meeks, Professor, Department of Art and Design

    Professor, Department of Art and Design

    Professor Meeks earned her MFA in Art at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and her M.A. in Teaching in Art and her B.A. with honors in Art from the University of Louisville.  Since 1981, Meeks’ work has been exhibited in the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (California), the Alternative Museum (New York), and the Montgomery Armory Art Center (Florida).  Meeks has works included in the permanent collections of the Fundación Torre Pujales (Corme, La Coruña, Galicia, Spain) and the Art Museum of Southeast Texas.

  • Dr. Sam Monroe, Honorary Member

    Honorary Member

    Dr. Sam Monroe is known not only as an experienced and trusted leader in higher education, but also as someone who has worked to promote and preserve the music and arts of Southeast Texas. He earned his degree in Business Administration from Sam Houston State University and his master of education degree and an honorary doctor of law degrees from Lamar University. After serving on the Lamar University Board of Regents for five years, Monroe became president of Lamar State College-Port Arthur in 1974, where he became the longest-serving president of a higher institution in the state. In 2004, he was named "Citizen of the Year" and the next year, he was the first recipient of the Southeast Texas "Man of the Year" award. He was also instrumental in founding the Museum of the Gulf Coast, which actively preserves the history of the region. 

  • Ellen Rienstra, LU Foundation and Spindletop Advisory Board Member

    LU Foundation and Spindletop Advisory Board Member

    Ellen Walker Rienstra is the co-author of several histories and historical articles, including The Long Shadow: The Lutcher-Stark Lumber Dynasty; Giant Under the Hill: A History of the Spindletop Oil Discovery at Beaumont, Texas, in 1901; A Pride of Kin, and six articles for the new edition of The Handbook of Texas.  She served as a consultant for the episode on Spindletop in “The Story of US,” the 2010 American History series for the History Channel. Rienstra currently does contract research and writing for the Nelda C. and H. J. Lutcher Stark Foundation in Orange.  She is a past president of the Lamar University Alumni Advisory Board and is also a member of the Lamar University Foundation and the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum Advisory Board.

  • Dr. Jim Sanderson, Writer in Residence, Department of English and Modern Languages

    Writer in Residence, Department of English and Modern Languages

    Dr. Sanderson has published three collections of short stories:  Semi-Private Rooms,1994 (1992 Kenneth Patton Prize); Faded Love, 2010 (Texas Institute of Letters’ 2010 Jesse Jones award nominee), and Trashy Behavior, 2013.  He has published seven novels, including, El Camino del Rio (1997 Frank Waters Award) and Safe Delivery (2000 Violet Crown Award finalist).  He has one forthcoming book, La Mordida (2017).  Dr. Sanderson has also published an essay collection, A West Texas Soapbox (1998).  His short story, “Bankers” won the Texas Institute of  Letters’ Kay Cattarulla Award in 2012.  His publications include about 80 short stories, essays, and articles.

  • Gordon S. Williams, Television Studio Operations Manager, Department of Communications and Media

    Television Studio Operations Manager, Department of Communications and Media

    Gordon S. Williams is the Lamar University Television Studio Operations Manager and adjunct instructor for LUTV News. He is an award-winning content creator whose projects have screened at over seventy film festivals and earned distribution deals from entities such as Amazon Video and Shorts International. Williams has presented “Beaumont’s Black History- In Moving Pictures” to regional universities that gives insight into the history of African Americans in Beaumont that never existed in a visual media via the award-winning short film “The Example” and LUTV Productions, “They Will Talk About Us: The Charlton-Pollard Story. On June 16, 2023, Gordon Williams received a Special Congressional Recognition from the office of U.S. Representative Brian Babin for his outstanding achievement in producing media that presents the region's Black history and experiences.

  • Dr. Stuart A. Wright. Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice

    Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice

    Dr. Wright is a former NIMH Research Fellow (Yale) and Rockefeller Foundation Scholar (Italy). He has authored over fifty publications in scholarly books and journals. Dr. Wright is known internationally for his research on religious and political movements, conflict and violence. He has published six books, including Storming Zion: Governments Raids on Religious Communities with Susan J. Palmer (2015), Saints under Siege: The Texas State Raid on the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints with James T. Richardson (2011), Patriots, Politics, and the Oklahoma City Bombing (2007), and Armageddon in Waco (1995).