George Fox selects top teachers, researchers for 2013-14

A biblical studies professor who specializes in the Old Testament and Semitic languages and a math professor who returned to his alma mater to teach were named recipients of George Fox University’s 2013-14 undergraduate research and teaching awards, respectively.

Brian Doak, an assistant professor of biblical studies who holds a PhD from Harvard, was chosen for the Faculty Achievement Award for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship. Nick Willis, who joined the George Fox faculty in 2009 after earning a bachelor’s degree from the school in 2000, was recipient of the Undergraduate Faculty Achievement Award for Teaching.

At the graduate level, the university selected education professor Katy Turpen and doctor of psychology professor Rodger Bufford as winners of the school’s graduate teaching and research awards, respectively.

Following are profiles on each.

Nick WillisNick Willis: Top Undergraduate Teacher

Willis, an associate professor of mathematics, specializes in teaching calculus, algebraic structures and introduction to proofs, among other courses. His primary area of research is in algebraic geometry, for which he has spent many years researching and classifying singular points of real polynomial curves.

“Mathematics has always been a big part of my life,” he said. “From solving logic problems to playing strategy games to solving a differential equation, math has always been challenging and fun. I love the quiet joy solving a difficult problem brings me, and I love helping students find that same joy in my classes.”

On the nomination form for the teaching award, Willis was praised for his “unusual devotion to each student in all of his classes” and for the fact he is “more than willing to provide guidance and structural explanations to his students.” Another student stated, “If you spend any time in Math Lab or hanging around with math majors, you will hear great things about Nick Willis. He is a dedicated professor and an integral part of George Fox.”

In addition to his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from George Fox, Willis holds both a PhD (2005) and a master’s degree (2003) in the discipline from Texas Tech University.


Brian DoakBrian Doak: Top Undergraduate Researcher

Doak joined the university in the fall of 2011 after teaching a range of courses on the Bible, Classics and Hebrew language at Harvard University (Teaching Fellow, 2008-10) and Missouri State University (2004-06). He has conducted archaeological fieldwork with the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon (Israel) and served as an editorial assistant for Harvard Theological Review. In 2009, he was awarded a Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning Certificate of Distinction at Harvard University, and he is a recent recipient of the Aviram Prize (2012) for archaeological research.

“I feel completely humbled, knowing that our university is filled with professors who produce outstanding scholarship in addition to the full lives of teaching and service,” Doak said of winning the award. “For many of our faculty, engagement with professional development, students’ future careers, and/or recruiting requires a certain kind of scholarly brilliance in its own right, and because of their hard work I am honored to be able to use my own gifts for the traditional publishing and scholarly route.” 

Doak will publish a book with Fortress Press this fall titled Consider Leviathan: Narratives of Nature and the Self in Job. He’s also been invited to the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany, to deliver a paper at a conference based on his book The Last of the Rephaim: Conquest and Cataclysm in the Heroic Ages of Ancient Israel.

He holds a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Hebrew Bible) from Harvard (2011), an MA in religious studies from Missouri State University (2004) and a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies from Evangel University (2002).


Katy TurpenKaty Turpen: Top Graduate Teacher

Turpen, an assistant professor in George Fox’s MAT program, has taught on topics ranging from language and literacy, language arts and social studies methods, and structures for learning to human development, elementary mathematics and supervising. Previously, she taught American history at Duniway Middle School in McMinnville.

Prior to joining George Fox’s faculty full time in 2011, Turpen did extensive work as a middle school teacher at Duniway, where she coordinated summer trips to the East Coast for eighth-graders, taught history, and oversaw a “Sheltered Core” program that specialized in assisting students who struggled in both reading and writing. She also spent two summers in the mid-2000s teaching English in Peru.

A student who nominated Turpen for the award said she “makes every minute of class count” and “keeps us working, moving, reading sorting, and doing.” Another said she “had a way of pointing us to the big picture without giving easy solutions. This kept my wheels turning, igniting more passion in me to make a change.”

“My greatest accomplishment is being a mom and a wife,” Turpen said. “My second is seeing my students being successful in the field. When they come back and let me know that they were prepared to be great teachers, it makes my heart sing.”

In addition to her master’s degree in teaching, Turpen holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from George Fox.


Rodger BuffordRodger Bufford: Top Graduate Researcher   

Bufford’s work over the past year included securing, with fellow George Fox psychology professor Mark McMinn, a $200,000 research grant from the Templeton Foundation to explore how positive psychology may impact church communities. The grant will be distributed over three years and support five dissertation projects at two universities.

Since his career began in the late 1960s, Bufford has prepared and/or written peer-reviewed journal articles, books, book chapters, professional presentations, invited addresses, book reviews, magazine articles, posters, seminars and workshops. He is also a contributing editor for the Journal of Psychology and Theology and an ad hoc editorial consultant for the Journal of Positive Psychology. He is a past contributing editor to Marriage and Family: A Christian Journal and the Journal of Psychology and Christianity.

His nomination submission form stated that, while much of Bufford’s scholarship is focused on the integration of psychology and the Christian faith, “that description is much too limiting for a scholar who has published on Christian clinical supervision, evolutionary psychology, demonic influence and mental disorders, assertiveness, and philosophical foundations of clinical supervision.” In addition to his own publications, Bufford has co-published with George Fox’s faculty, faculty from other universities, and with graduate students.

“One of the things I most love about teaching at Fox is seeing our students grow, develop, and succeed, often in ways and to degrees that surpass our expectations,” Bufford said. “As founding chairperson of the Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology, I was privileged to lay the foundations for the program we have today. Our goal at the outset was to become an APA-accredited program known for its Christian emphasis. Others who succeeded me have built on that foundation, and together we have achieved that goal and also become widely regarded as an outstanding clinical psychology program.”

Bufford holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The King’s College and master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.