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


Program Director

Dr. Abigail Rine Favale

Dr. Abigail Favale
Director of 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 graduated from George Fox University with a philosophy degree in 2005, and went on to complete 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. This book was awarded the 2014 Feminist and Women's Studies Association Book Prize.

Dr. Favale is an active writer in multiple genres. Her literary criticism has appeared in various academic journals and essay collections. In 2017, she was awarded the J.F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction; her short stories have appeared in journals such as Dappled Things, Potomac Review, and Talking River Review. She also regularly writes essays on theology and culture for publications such as First Things and The Atlantic. A lifelong Christian, Favale entered the Catholic Church in 2014, and her memoir about this transition, Into the Deep, is forthcoming from Cascade Books.

Dr. Favale has taught in the William Penn Honors Program since its inception, and she served as associate director for academics before becoming director in 2018. She has an abiding love for theology, philosophy, and literature, and teaching in this program has revitalized her intellectually and spiritually. When she’s not reading and writing, Abigail spends her time with husband Michael and their three young children, Julian, Margot and Benedict.

Associate Director

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

Dr. Javier Garcia 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, Dr. Garcia graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University, majoring in philosophy and French.

Dr. Garcia's research interests include modern theology, ecclesiology, Lutheran and Reformed dogmatics, Pentecostalism, and Christianity in Latin America. His first book, Thinking After Tradition: Recovering the Ecumenical Bonhoeffer(Fortress/Lexington University Press), will be published in 2019. He has published academic articles in Journal of Reformed Theology, Lutheran Quarterly, Galatians and Christian Theology: Justification, the Gospel, and Ethics in Paul's Letter(Baker Academic Press), and The Kuyper Center Review. He has also written for more popular audiences in The Gospel Coalition, Mockingbird Ministries, and Resonance: A Theological Journal. Dr. Garcia is a board member of the International Bonhoeffer Society, a member of the American Academy of Religion, and has presented research papers at universities in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States.

Dr. Garcia has taught in the William Penn Honors Program and served as its associate director since 2016. His love for theology, philosophy and literature, combined with his love for community life, make this program a natural home for Dr. Garcia. Outside of the classroom, he enjoys playing guitar, exploring Portland and continuing his travels abroad.

Faculty Fellows

Joseph Clair Dr. Joseph Clair
Dean of the College of Christian Studies, Liberal Arts, and Honors;
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
PhD, Princeton; MPhil, Cambridge;
MA, Fordham University; MTS, Duke; BA, Wheaton
Department webpage

Dr. Joseph Clair serves as dean of the College of Christian Studies, Liberal Arts, and of the William Penn Honors Program as well 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, Formation, Citizenship, and the Lost Purpose of Learning (Bloomsbury, 2017).


Isaac Choi Isaac Choi, PhD
Honors Faculty Fellow; Assistant Professor of Philosophy
PhD, University of Notre Dame
PhDMDiv, ThM, Princeton Theological Seminary
AB, Harvard College
Department webpage

As an undergraduate at Harvard College, Dr. Choi studied physics and chemistry, focusing on quantum chemistry and biological chemistry, but was also fascinated by the philosophical and theological questions raised by contemporary science. He received two masters from Princeton Theological Seminary in philosophy and theology, writing a thesis on divine action, quantum mechanics, and computer simulations. Dr. Choi’s doctoral dissertation in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame was on the nature and epistemology of expertise, centered on the question of how we should decide between disagreeing experts. He also has research interests in philosophy of religion and analytic theology, including petitionary prayer, the metaphysics and epistemology of divine action, the cosmological fine-tuning argument for the existence of God, theological and philosophical anthropology, and the epistemic significance of tradition and majority opinion in theology.

Dr. Choi held a postdoctoral research fellowship in philosophy at the University of Oxford, and before joining the George Fox faculty in 2018, he was a visiting fellow at the Rivendell Institute at Yale University, writing and speaking on philosophy of religion, religion and science, and Christian spirituality and spiritual formation. He met his wife Laura during their college years in Boston, and they are parents to two young children.

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.  Mark has written, edited, or co-edited a dozen books, including   Great Christian Jurists in American History (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming);   America and the Just War Tradition: A History of US Conflicts (University of Notre Dame Press, forthcoming);   Faith and the Founders of the American Republic (Oxford University Press, 2014);   Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic  (Oxford University Press, 2013);   America’s Forgotten Founders (ISI Books, 2011);   The Forgotten Founders on Religion and Public Life (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009);   The Sacred Rights of Conscience: Selected Readings on Religious Liberty and Church-State Relations in the American Founding (Liberty Fund Press, 2009);   The Founders on God and Government  (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004);   The Political and Legal Philosophy of James Wilson, 1742-1798 (University of Missouri Press, 1997).    His next book, tentatively titled   America Had a Christian Founding: And Why This Benefits Us All, will be published by Thomas Nelson in 2019.

Dr. Benjamin Hartley

Dr. Benjamin L. Hartley
Honors Faculty Fellow; Associate Professor of Christian Mission
ThD, Boston University School of Theology MDiv, Boston University MS, Michigan State University BA, Wheaton College
Department webpage

Dr. Benjamin L. Hartley joined the George Fox University faculty in 2016 after a decade of service in seminary education. He received a ThD (Doctor of Theology) at Boston University in missiology and church history (2005). He also holds a Master of Divinity degree from Boston University (2000) and a Master of Science degree from Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (1997), where he studied international development. He graduated from Wheaton College in 1992. His books include  The Deacon: Ministry through Words of Faith and Acts of Love (1998) and Evangelicals at a Crossroads: Revivalism and Social Reform in Boston, 1860-1910 (2011). The latter book received the “best dissertation” award from the Wesleyan Theological Society and the Jesse Lee Prize, awarded once every four years, from the General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church. He has also coedited  Transforming Teaching for Mission: Educational Theory and Practice (2014).
In 2018, he was awarded a grant from the Louisville Institute in order to write a new biography of Nobel Peace Prize laureate John R. Mott (1865-1955). Hartley is an ordained deacon in the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church and is appointed to Mountain Home United Methodist Church, a rural congregation outside of Newberg.

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. Ross McCullough Dr. Ross McCullough
Honors Faculty Fellow, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
PhD., Religious Studies (Theology and Philosophy of Religion), Yale University
MTS, History of Christianity, University of Notre Dame
BA, History, and Philosophy, Swarthmore College

Ross McCullough completed his PhD at Yale University in theology and philosophy of religion. His doctoral dissertation was on freedom and evil in the theology of Thomas Aquinas and in contemporary analytic philosophy, in particular on how it is possible to sin if God is the cause of all that we are and do. Dr. McCullough received his master's degree in historical theology, focusing on Patristics, from the University of Notre Dame, and a bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College. His research interests include eschatology, creation, the Eucharist and late scholasticism. He is the father of four young children.

Dr. Roger Nam

Dr. Roger Nam
Honors Faculty Fellow; Dean, Portland Seminary
PhD, UCLA ThM, Fuller Theological Seminary MDiv, General Assembly Presbyterian Seminary, Seoul, Korea BA, UCLA
Department webpage

Dr. Roger Nam is interim dean at Portland Seminary. He arrived at the seminary after stints in both youth ministry and corporate finance. As a scholar, he focuses on the historical and social contexts that surround the Bible’s textualization. His work is primarily on understanding the nature of economy in the ancient Near East, as reflected in biblical and extra-biblical texts. Secondarily, his publishes on Late Bronze Age civilizations, social scientific approaches to the Bible and inner-biblical exegesis. In 2012, Nam completed his first book,  Portrayals of Exchange in the Book of Kings (Leiden: Brill, 2012), which examines the social structures that undergird the economy of ancient Israel. He is presently completing  The Theology of the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) as well as a technical commentary on Ezra-Nehemiah for the Old Testament Library (Westminster John Knox). He is also a grant principal for Theologia, The George Fox University Summer Theology Institute.

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 . 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 employing complex role-playing games simulating major events in American and South African history. Otto has been a fellow at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina, the Collegeville Institute in Collegeville, Minnesota, and the Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. He co-teaches 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 joined 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.  Her writings on religion and popular culture have appeared in  The Washington Post and  Christianity Today In her spare time, Dr. Payne blogs about coffee, television, and religious studies at  leahpayne.blogspot.com .

Phil Smith Phil Smith, PhD
PhD, University of Oregon
MA, Fuller Theological Seminary
BA, George Fox University

Phil Smith is a professor of philosophy in the department of Christian Studies and joined the William Penn Honors Program in 2018. He graduated from George Fox in 1977, after which he earned a master's degree from Fuller Seminary. In the 1980s, while pastoring a Friends Church in Portland, he taught part-time at George Fox. He completed a philosophy PhD at the University of Oregon in 1991 and has been full time at George Fox since 1992.

Phil teaches a wide range of philosophy and religion courses. Published works include Learning to Love: Philosophy and Moral Progress (University of Oregon, 1991); Values and Ethics in the Workplace (instructors' and students' books for George Fox University, 1992); The Virtue of Civility in the Practice of Politics (University Press of America, 2002); Being at Home in the World: A New Christian Apologetic  (with Mark McLeod-Harrison; Wipf and Stock, 2011); Why Faith is a Virtue (Wipf and Stock, 2014). Dr. Smith has written numerous articles addressing philosophy and questions of war and peace, as well as published works of fiction.

Honors Committee Members 
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)