The William Penn Honors Program committee and teaching faculty represent a diverse range of subject expertise and research...

Honors Director

Joseph Clair Dr. Joseph Clair
Director of the Honors Program; Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
PhD, Princeton; MPhil, Cambridge;
MA, Fordham University; MTS, Duke; BA, Wheaton
Department webpage

Dr. Joseph Clair serves as director of the William Penn Honors Program and as an assistant professor of religious studies. Before joining the George Fox faculty in 2013, he earned his PhD in the religion, ethics and politics program at Princeton University while also working as an assistant in instruction. His efforts were rewarded with a Department of Religion Teaching Award (2011-12) and a Graduate Prize Fellowship from Princeton’s Center for Human Values (2012-13).

Prior to Princeton, Dr. Clair earned an MPhil at the University of Cambridge as a Gates Cambridge Scholar. He also holds master’s degrees from Fordham and Duke University as well as a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College. Clair's research and teaching interests include Christian thought and ethics and the role of religion in public life. He is the author of Discerning the Good in the Letters and Sermons of Augustine (Oxford UP, 2016) and Reading Augustine: On Education, Salvation, Happiness, and the Gift of Reading (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2017).

Associate Directors

Dr. Abigail Rine Favale

Dr. Abigail Favale
Associate Director for Academic Affairs, Honors Program
Associate Professor of English
PhD, University of St. Andrews (Scotland) 
MLitt, University of St. Andrews (Scotland); BA, George Fox University
Department webpage

Dr. Favale completed her doctorate at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she was a recipient of the competitive Overseas Research Award. In 2011, her dissertation was granted the Samuel Rutherford Prize for the most distinguished thesis in English literature. Dr. Favale’s first book,  Irigaray, Incarnation and Contemporary Women’s Fiction (Bloomsbury, 2013), examines religious themes in the work of contemporary women novelists, positing literature as an ideal space for religious thinking, precisely because it is a realm that cultivates imagination, mystery and incarnation. This book was awarded the 2014 Feminist and Women's Studies Association Book Prize. Favale’s literary criticism has appeared in the academic journals  Forum for Modern Language Studies and  Journal of Gender Studies, as well as in volumes such as  Sex, Gender and Time in Fiction and Culture (Palgrave, 2011) and  Building a New World (Palgrave, 2015). In addition to her academic writing, she has published essays in a variety of venues, such as  First Things, The Atlantic, and  Geez Magazine, and short fiction in journals  such as the  Potomac Review, Talking River Review, and  Melusine. Dr. Favale’s teaching interests span a wide range of world literature, both ancient and modern, and she is particularly interested in biblical literary criticism, Catholic Theology of the Body, and the intersection of theology and literary studies. On the home front, she is wife to Michael, and mother to Julian, Margot, and Benedict. 

Dr. Javier GarciaDr. Javier Garcia
Associate Director for Student Engagement and Enrollment, Honors Program
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
PhD, University of Cambridge
MPhil, University of Cambridge
BA, Georgetown University
Department webpage

Dr. Javier Garcia recently completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge (2016), where he received a full scholarship from the oldest college, Peterhouse, and was awarded the M.Phil Prize in Theology and Religious Studies (2011). His doctoral dissertation focused on the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, specifically on the ecumenical nature of his doctrine of the church and its continued relevance for today. Prior to his studies in Cambridge, he graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University, majoring in philosophy and French. Dr. Garcia's research interests include modern theology, ecclesiology, questions in Lutheran and Reformed dogmatics, Pentecostalism, and Christianity in Latin America. He has published in  Lutheran Quarterly (2013), Galatians and Christian Theology: Justification, the Gospel, and Ethics in Paul's Letter (Baker Academic Press, 2014), and  The Kuyper Center Review, Vol. 5 (2015). Dr. Garcia is a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, where he is involved in the Global Pentecostalism Project. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion and has presented research papers at universities in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States. 

Faculty Fellows

Dr. Corwynn Beals

Dr. Corwynn Beals
Honors Faculty Fellow; Professor of Philosophy and Religion
PhD, Fordham University; MAR, Yale Divinity School;
BA, George Fox University
Department webpage

Dr. Beals’ teaching and research interests are centered on relational metaphysics and epistemology embedded in the history of philosophy. His book,  Levinas and the Wisdom of Love: The Question of Invisibility (Baylor University Press, 2007), analyzes the relationship between western philosophy and ethical invisibility, and two current projects,  Philosophy of Creation Care (forthcoming, Baylor University Press) and  Tasting Truth, explore various ways of accessing truth in an embodied manner. In 2009, he was invited to Stanford University to lecture on “Relational Metaphysics and the Pursuit of Invisibility” and plans for further projects on this topic. Beals has taught philosophy seminars on Levinas, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Wendell Berry and Agrarian Phenomenology. He seeks to teach wisdom holistically, a trajectory that began with his article “Finding Phronimos: Making a Place for Practical Wisdom in the Classroom” ( Teaching Philosophy, 2004). Beals has used his innovative and experiential teaching approach as part of the Creation Care Studies Program across the world, in locations such as New Zealand and Belize. He initiated the George Fox University community garden and chairs the university’s Creation Care Committee. 

Dr, Caitlin Corning Dr. Caitlin Corning
Honors Faculty Fellow; Professor of History
PhD, University of Leeds; BA, Seattle Pacific University
Department webpage

A George Fox University Teacher of the Year (2002), Dr. Corning’s research explores Medieval church history, and particularly the relationship between the Roman and Celtic traditions in the sixth to eighth centuries AD. She also specializes in late-Roman history and controversies surrounding the construction of the ecclesiastical calendar, both ancient and modern. Her book,  The Celtic and Roman Traditions: Conflict and Consensus in the Early Medieval Church (Palgrave-Macmillian, 2006), explores the reality of the Celtic traditions and the controversy over the correct date of Easter in this period. She has an article that will be published in  Studia Traditionis Theologiae (Brepols) on the attempts since the 1960s to unite all Christians behind a single Easter date and a chapter for  The Irish in Europe in the Early Middle Ages (Palgrave-Macmillian, forthcoming) on the social, cultural and political contexts of the Easter controversy on the Continent. Dr. Corning is an associate editor for  Occasional Papers on Religion in Eastern Europe. She teaches courses on church history and theology, western civilization, classical and medieval history, modern Russia, modern Middle East, and public history.

Dr. Brian R. Doak

Dr. Brian R. Doak
Honors Faculty Fellow; Associate Professor of Biblical Studies
PhD, Harvard University; MA, Missouri State University;
BA, Evangel University
Department webpage

An award-winning scholar and teacher (Aviram Prize in Archaeology, 2012; Derek Bok Center Certificate of Distinction, Harvard University, 2010) and recipient of the George Fox University Undergraduate Faculty Researcher of the Year award (2014), Dr. Doak’s teaching and research interests include the history, languages and religions of the ancient Near Eastern world, the Old Testament, the Bible’s wisdom literature, and art and iconography of Iron Age Syria-Palestine. He is the author, co-author, or co-editor of seven books, including Heroic Bodies in Ancient Israel (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2018), The Oxford Handbook of the Phoencian and Punic Mediterranean (co-edited; forthcoming, Oxford University Press), Ancient Israel's Neighbors (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2019), Phoenician Aniconism in its Mediterranean and Ancient Near Eastern Contexts (SBL Press, 2015), and Consider Leviathan: Narratives of Nature and the Self in Job (Fortress Press, 2014), as well as dozens of essays, articles, and reviews. Doak has conducted archaeological field research with the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, Israel, and presented his research widely across the United States, Canada, and Europe. 

Dr. Mark David Hall

Dr. Mark David Hall
Honors Faculty Fellow; Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics
PhD, University of Virginia; BA Wheaton College
Department webpage

Dr. Hall’s primary interest lies at the intersection between Christianity, politics, and law in America. He has written, edited or coedited  The Political and Legal Philosophy of James Wilson, 1742-1798 (1997),  The Founders on God and Government (2004);   Collected Works of James Wilson (2007),  The Forgotten Founders on Religion and Public Life (2009),  The Sacred Rights of Conscience: Selected Readings on Religious Liberty and Church-State Relations in the American Founding (2009),  America’s Forgotten Founders (2012),  Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic (2013),  Faith and the Founders of the American Republic (2014),  Collected Works of Roger Sherman (forthcoming), Great Christian Jurists in American History (under contract) and more than 50 journal articles, book chapters, reviews, and sundry pieces. Mark is also a Senior Fellow at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion and an Affiliate Scholar at the John Jay Institute.

Dr. William Jolliff Dr. William Jolliff
Honors Faculty Fellow; Professor of English
PhD, The Ohio State University; MA, Ashland Theological Seminary;
BS, Central Michigan University
Department webpage

William Jolliff has served as professor of English at George Fox University since 1994. Dividing his writing time between poetry writing and literary criticism, he has published articles, reviews, and poems in over 150 journals. His books include  The Poetry of John Greenleaf Whittier: A Readers' Edition (Friends United Press, 2000) and  Twisted Shapes of Light (Cascade-Poiema Poetry Series, 2015). Appalachian literature is the focus of Jolliff's current research, particularly the novels of West Virginia author Denise Giardina. He also serves as contributing editor to  Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature. His George Fox University awards include Teacher of the Year (2002), Researcher of the Year (2003), and the Faculty Values Award for the Development of Wisdom (2015).

Dr. Roger Nam

Dr. Roger Nam
Honors Faculty Fellow; Associate Professor of Biblical Studies
PhD, UCLA; MDiv, General Assembly Theological Seminary (Seoul, Korea); ThM, Fuller Theological Seminary
Department webpage

Recipient of the George Fox University Graduate Researcher of the Year (2010-2011), Dr. Nam’s research centers on the social background of Old Testament texts. His first book, Portrayals of Economic Exchange in the Book of Kings (Brill: 2012), examines the nature of trade in Ancient Israel. He is presently writing a book that explores the intersections of identity and power in Ezra-Nehemiah. Nam has published academic articles in Journal of Religion and Society, Palestine Exploration Quarterly and Revue de Qumran, as well as popular pieces in Huffington Post, Sojourners, and Working Preacher. He has been featured in multiple videos for Bible Odyssey, Seedbed and the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning. Recently, he led a team that won a $462,000 Lilly Endowment grant to establish a theology institute for high school youth at George Fox University. In addition to the Honors Program, Nam teaches classes in biblical studies and Hebrew at Portland Seminary.

Dr. Heather C. Ohaneson

Dr. Heather C. Ohaneson
Honors Faculty Fellow; Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies
PhD, MPhil, MA, Columbia University
BA, Barnard College
Department webpage

Heather C. Ohaneson joined George Fox University as an assistant professor of philosophy and religious studies in 2017. As a faculty fellow of the William Penn Honors Program, she is excited to build on her teaching experience in the Core Curriculum of her alma mater, Columbia University. Trained in the philosophy of religion, she has various research interests, which include nineteenth-century philosophy (especially Søren Kierkegaard), the philosophy of the Hebrew Bible, and political theology; these are reflected in recent publications. Additionally, she is working on a book on the philosophy of play and playfulness, entitled Free to Play: An Analysis in Aesthetic, Ethical, and Religious Movements. Dr. Ohaneson, who is fortunate to have worked at the non-profit organization Project Pericles and to have been educated at Barnard College (B.A., magna cum laude, philosophy and religion), is committed to the ideals of civic engagement and the tradition of liberal arts education. A longtime New Yorker, she enjoys the similarities between Portland and Brooklyn.

Paul Otto

Dr. Paul Otto
Honors Faculty Fellow; Professor of History
PhD, Indiana University; MA, Western Washington University
BA, Dordt College
Department webpage

A George Fox University Researcher of the Year (2010), Dr. Paul Otto is a historian with a keen interest in cultural and intellectual history. He has written an award-winning volume,  The Dutch-Munsee Encounter in America (Berghan, 2006), and is working on a major study of early American material culture: Beads of Power: Wampum and the Shaping of Early America. Otto has a life-time commitment to Christian education, having been involved as student, professor and trustee at four different institutions of Christian higher learning. Adopting the Protestant Reformation’s call to  semper reformanda, Otto continues to reform and improve his pedagogical technique ranging from the Socratic method of the William Penn honors seminars, to the use of student film-making to convey essential elements of historical texts, to employing complex role-playing games simulating major events in the American Revolution. In 2015-2016, Otto was on sabbatical as a fellow at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina. He returned in the fall of 2016 to co-teach HNRS 350, the Rise of Modernity.

Leah Payne

Dr. Leah Payne
Honors Faculty Fellow; Assistant Professor of Christian Studies
PhD, MA, and MTS, Vanderbilt; BA, George Fox University
Department webpage

Leah Payne joins George Fox University's William Penn Honors Program, College of Christian Studies, and Seminary in the fall of 2016. Prior to her appointment as Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, Dr. Payne taught at Portland Seminary as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Louisville Institute (2014-2016). Her research and teaching interests include American religious innovation, religion and popular culture, gender, race, and class construction, hermeneutics, and performance theory. Her first book, Gender and Pentecostal Revivalism: Making a Female Ministry in the Early Twentieth Century (Palgrave, 2015) won the 2016 Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies Book Award and her second book explores the development of political theology within American Pentecostalism. In 2015, she and three other colleagues received a Lilly Endowment, Inc. High School Youth Theology Initiative grant to co-found Theologia: The George Fox University Summer Theology Institute beginning in 2017. In her spare time, Dr. Payne blogs about coffee, television, and religious studies at leahpayne.blogspot.com.

Honors Committee Members

Dr. Corwynn Beals (Philosophy)
Dr. Joseph Clair (Philosophy and Theology)
Dr. Caitlin Corning (History)
Dr. Brian Doak (Biblical Studies)
Dr. Ben Giudice (Civil Engineering)
Dr. Javier Garcia (Religious Studies)
Dr. Abigail Rine Favale (English)
Dr. Mark Hall (Political Science)
Dr. David Hansen (Computer Science)
Dr. Bill Jolliff (English)
Dr. Nate Peach (Business)
Dr. John Schmitt (Biology, Pre-med)
Prof. Mark Terry, MFA (Art)
Dr. Brent Weaver (Music)