Faculty

Karen Thompson, Ph.D.
BSHI Division Head
Professor of Paychology and Psychology Program Coordinator
(803) 786-3634

Dr. Thompson joined the Columbia College faculty in 2000. She completed an undergraduate degree in psychology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina. She teaches such courses as Basic Statistics, Research Methods, Biological Psychology, Learning, Cognition and Memory, and History and Systems of Psychology. Her research focuses on the biological bases of epilepsy and the application of neural transplantation or gene therapy to alleviate epileptic attacks. She also presents a hands-on, interactive “Brain Day” at local elementary schools. Dr. Thompson was the recipient of the Columbia College 2002-2003 Faculty Excellence Award.

 

Robin Rosenthal, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology
Associate Provost for Academic Affairs
(803) 786-3142

 

Joyce W. Fields, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator for Child and Family Studies
Professor of Child and Family Studies
(803) 786-3688

Dr. Fields received her B.S. from Longwood College in Virginia, her M.S. from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and her Ph. D. from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Dr. Fields joined the faculty of Columbia College in the fall of 1999 and teaches courses in family development, sociology, child and family intervention, aging, and social policy. As program director for the Child and Family Studies program, she instituted a major track for students to graduate with required coursework and experiences to fulfill the child life specialist requirements. Experiential learning is embedded in all child and family studies courses allowing students at least six field experiences prior to graduation. Her collaborative work with students has resulted in international, national and regional presentations. In 2007 Dr. Fields received the SC Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU) Professor of the Year award. She won the Student Advisor of the Year Award in 2010 and has twice been recognized as Honors Professor of the Year. She brings to the college her clinical experiences as a Marriage and Family Therapist as well as training skills developed in academic work, and workshops and seminars for family members as well as for the development of other professionals. She has published in the areas of family in children’s literature, leadership development, service-learning and vocational exploration, and sociological pedagogy. She is currently collecting data in a collaborative effort to connect Servant Leadership to teaching in the helping professions.

 

Bethany Fisackerly, M.S. C.C.L.S
Lecturer of Child and Family Studies
(803) 786-3024

Professor Fisackerly received her M.S. from East Carolina University and earned the credentials of Certified Child Life Specialist from the Child Life Council in 2011. Prior to joining the faculty at Columbia College, she interned with Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando, FL, and subsequently worked as a C.C.L.S. at Baptist Children's Hospital in Miami, FL

 

Heather Hahn, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator for Religion and Philosophy major and Philosophy and Ethics minors
Associate Professor of Philosophy
(803) 786-3489

Dr. Hahn is a Fulbright Scholar (Germany) with a Master’s and PhD from the State University of New York at Binghamton’s Program in Philosophy, Literary Theory, and Culture. She taught at the Universitaet Mainz and the Rheinisch-Westphaelische Technische Hochschule Aachen before moving back to the United States. Her areas of specialization include continental philosophy (specifically phenomenology), literary theory, gender and women’s studies (specifically Girls Studies), and ethics. Current projects include research on Heidegger and Comparative Religion and also ethics and gender theory as they intersect to inform American family law. As co-founder and co-editor of Girls Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Undergraduate Research (an online journal) and a certified yoga instructor, Dr. Hahn enjoys turning theory into practice, creating a yoga wellness mentoring program for middle school girls. 

 

Shirley Huisman, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator for Social Work
Assistant Professor of Social Work
(803) 786-3629

Dr. Huisman received her B.A. degree from Dordt College, her MSW from Syracuse University, and her PhD from the University of South Carolina. She has been teaching in social work education for over 20 years, in both undergraduate and graduate programs. She has been both program director and director of field education in her previous positions. She loves to teach across the social work curriculum, including Policy, Practice, Human Behavior and the Social Environment, Research and Field Education. She has shepherded programs through initial accreditation and reaffirmation processes.

Her professional practice experience is in mental health, with services provided to individuals, couples and families, with special focus on trauma informed practice. She is a Licensed Independent Social Worker in South Carolina and Iowa. She is also a community educator for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, providing education and support to families experiencing mental illness, and providers of mental health services. She considers her work as Mom to her children her most important and finest work.

 

Sharon Jones, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Political Science
Program Coordinator for Model UN
(803) 786-3628

Dr. Jones joined the faculty in August of 2006. She received a Ph.D. and MA in Comparative Politics from Syracuse University; plus a MA in International Relations from University of South Florida. She also received a BA in International Relations and BS in Business Administration from the University of South Florida. Raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, Central Africa, Sharon has traveled the world, having had one son born in Italy and another born in Portugal. Her main interests are in comparative politics, immigration and international security. Some of her favorite classes to teach are East/Southeast Politics, Immigration Today, Politics and Multiculturalism, Comparative Politics, Middle East/ Latin American Studies, Terrorism and National Security. Some of Dr. Jones’ recent published articles include “Canada and the Globalized Immigrant” in American Behavioral Scientist, “Looking Back at Hiroshima: Dialogues” in Poliscithinking and “Assimilation, “Integration and Multiculturalism : The Making of an Australian Identity and Nationalism,” in the Maxwell Colloquium.

 

Tandy McConnell, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator for Public Affairs
Professor of History
(803) 786-3627

Dr. McConnell joined the Columbia College faculty in 1998 as a historian of modern Europe. Before coming to Columbia College he had had a varied career that included time as a fire fighter, an officer in the Army National Guard, a newspaper reporter, and a minister. Since coming to Columbia College he has published two books, American Decades: the 1990s, and History in Dispute: the Holocaust, both for Gale, as well as numerous book reviews. Among the upper-level courses he teaches are “Hitler and the Holocaust,” “Myth Magic and Science,” and a sequence of European history courses that stretches from the ancient to the post-modern eras. His current research focuses on religious minorities in Eastern Europe where he has done significant research on Romanian Baptists and among Romanian and Hungarian Roma (Gypsies). An avid runner and cyclist, McConnell still hopes to bicycle the Trans-America Bicycle Route from California to Virginia—maybe next summer.

 

Hyman Rubin III, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator for History
Associate Professor of History
(803) 786-3626

Dr. Rubin teaches U.S. and world history. A Columbia native, he attended Yale University, graduating in 1993. He then attended graduate school at Emory University in Atlanta, receiving his doctorate in history in 2001.

Since 1999 Professor Rubin has been on the faculty of Columbia College, where he has received several awards, including the award for outstanding teaching in the Honors Program (2003), the Students’ Choice Award for Teaching Excellence (2004), and the SCICU Teaching Award (2009). His favorite courses to teach include the History of South Carolina, The Civil War and Reconstruction, History of China, History of Japan, and World Civilizations.

In 2004 he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in support of his research on Reconstruction politics, and in 2006 his book South Carolina Scalawags was published by the University of South Carolina Press. His current project is an investigation of social and business relationships within South Carolina’s Republican Party in its early years.

Professor Rubin lives in Columbia with his wife Jennifer and two children: Lainie, born in 2005, and Jack, born in 2008.
 

Edward Sharkey, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator for Political Science
Associate Professor of Political Science
(803) 786-3807

Dr. Sharkey has been part of the Columbia College faculty since 2000. He received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Montana and his Ph.D. from Northern Arizona University. Dr. Sharkey teaches a range of courses including The Modern Presidency, Politics and Film, Political Participation, Constitutional Law, Environmental Policy, and Political Philosophy. He has received numerous teaching awards, including the Student’s Choice for Teaching Excellence Award (2002 and 2007), the Honors Student Association Teacher of the Year Award (2002), the Student Organization Advisor of the Year Award (2005), and recognition of Outstanding Teaching in Political Science from the American Political Science Association (2002 and 2008). His recent publications include “Terrorism, Security, and Civil Liberties: The States Respond,” “Education and Political Tolerance: A State Level Perspective” and Understanding American Government. Dr. Sharkey and his wife Rene enjoy spending their leisure hours with their two children - Libby and Dylan.
 

Debra M. Stayner, M.A.
Senior Lecturer of Behavioral Studies
(803) 786-3445

Ms. Stayner graduated magna cum laude from the University of South Carolina with an undergraduate degree in Anthropology. She later earned Master’s degrees in Geography (1984) and in Anthropology (2003) at USC. She taught geography and/or anthropology courses as an adjunct at various campuses for over fifteen years, including USC, USC- Aiken, Midlands Technical College and Columbia College. Since 2005, she has been employed full-time at Columbia College. Ms. Stayner is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In 2004 she won the Social and Behavioral Sciences Adjunct Faculty Member of the Year award at Midlands Technical College.  Ms. Stayner also owned Pangaea Earth Store from 1991 until 1998, and was awarded DHEC’s Friend of the Environment Award in 1996. Her interests are in globalization and its effects on indigenous populations, fair trade, and cultural aspects of conflict.

 

Catherine Unterseher, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator for Religion minor
E. Wright Spears Professor of Religion
(803) 786-3755

Dr. Unterseher received a B.A. in history (double major in English, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Texas at Austin. She received a M.Div (Master of Divinity)., also magna cum laude, from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Dr. Unterseher also received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies, with a concentration on the History of the Christian Tradition, from Southern Methodist University. Her areas of interest include early Church history and theology (Patristics), the theology of Augustine of Hippo, women in the Christian tradition, and Jewish-Christian relations. Dr. Unterseher's has published book Augustine’s theology of the Jews entitled, The Mark of Cain and the Jews: Augustine’s Theology of Jews and Judaism (Gorgias Press, 2009). Currently, she is completing a work on the theology of Harry Potter, tentatively entitled A Theology of Hogwarts: The Journey of the Soul in Harry Potter. 

 

Brooke Wymer, LISW-CP
Director of Social Work Field Experiences
Lecturer of Social Work
(803) 786-3635

Professor Wymer is a graduate of Columbia College. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work in 2009. Ms. Wymer was awarded by the National Association of Social Workers – South Carolina Chapter as the Bachelor of Social Work Student of the Year. She was also recognized as the Columbia College Social Work Student of the Year. Ms. Wymer completed the Advanced Standing Program at the University of South Carolina in the College of Social Work and received her Master of Social Work in 2010. She was inducted into the Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society. Ms. Wymer became a Licensed Master Social Worker in May 2010. After her studies, Ms. Wymer provided direct practice in the child welfare field. She specialized in providing treatment services to children who experienced abuse and other forms of trauma. She is a trained forensic interviewer and provided investigative interviews to assist law enforcement and the Department of Social Services in the interviewing of children during the investigative process. Ms. Wymer is a rostered Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. She has received intensive training in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy and the Strengthening Families Program. Ms. Wymer became a Licensed Independent Social Worker – Clinical Practitioner in March 2014. Ms. Wymer is very excited to be a part of the Columbia College community once again. Outside of her work and studies, Ms. Wymer is an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.

 

Jennfer Dollar, LISW-CP
Director of Social Work Field Experiences (2016-2017)
Lecturer of Social Work
(803) 786-3635

Professor Dollar is a graduate of Carson Newman University.  She received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1986 and obtained her MSW from the University of South Carolina in 1992.  Ms. Dollar became a Licensed Master Social Worker in 1992.  She was chosen as the 2014-2015 Support Employee of the Year for School District 5 of Lexington and Richland Counties.  Her professional practice experience began as a medical social worker in home health followed by 16  years as a school social worker.  Ms. Dollar became a Licensed Independent Social Worker – Clinical Practitioner in April 2014.  Her professional practice focus is with children, adolescents, young women, and families, with an emphasis in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  In practice, she supervised social work interns for 14 years and is thrilled to serve as Director of Social Work Experiences.  Her desire is to equip students for practice in the social work field upon their graduation.