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Meet Our Language, History & Culture Faculty


Sarah Miller Boelts, professor of Spanish
This is my first year at GV. I'm from Iowa but lived in Minnesota for eight years. I teach Spanish I and II, and hope to teach classes on culture and literature in the future. My special interest is in Cuban culture and literature. I believe learning a second language is essential. In my classes, students and I break down harmful stereotypes. I encourage them to study abroad and practice the language as much as they can outside the classroom. My husband, Tim, and I have three cats and enjoy traveling, watching baseball and reading.

Dr. Paul Brooke, professor of English
I have been a professor since I graduated from the University of Nebraska and I teach many different courses: Advanced Creative Writing, Literary Theory, Contemporary American Literature, and Major Authors. I am an avid photographer, poet, birder, fly fisherman, and weightlifter. Recently I retired from arm wrestling, where I won the Iowa State Fair competition three times. Now I am deadlifting at the fair and last year I hit 550 pounds. I love teaching; it is what drew me into the profession from Biology. My poetry is published all over the world: Australia, England, Germany, New Zealand, among others. In 2008, my book of poems was published, Light and Matter: Photographs and Poems of Iowa.
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Dr. Josh Call, associate professor of English
Welcome! You’ll likely find me in courses such as Composition, Literacy, and Service Learning. I’m a firm believer that writing as a process is as much about learning to discover our questions and ideas as it is about demonstrating them through texts. To that end, I encourage writing that represents students’ interests and ideas rather than prescribing topics for them. I also find that encouraging writing in multiple forms and genres and for multiple audiences challenges not only our assumptions about what writing can be, but who we are as writers. Outside of the classroom I’m an eccentric pop-culture fiend, dividing my time between books, movies, music, and video games (all of which are also scholarly interests for me). Outside of work, I spend my time with my wife and daughter searching for exciting and fun places to eat, shop, and experience new things in the Des Moines area.

Dr. Brittany Cottrill, assistant professor of English, Director of the GV Writing Center, Co-director of New Student Seminar
Hello! I have been at Grand View since 2010 and I teach a variety of writing classes, including First-Year Composition, New Media, and Advanced Composition. I also teach a New Student Seminar course and I'm the director of the Writing Center. My goal as a teacher is to help students realize the role that writing plays in their lives as students, employees, and citizens. When I'm not in the classroom I love to travel, watch zombie movies, and explore new parks with my dog.

Dr. Kevin Gannon, professor of history and co-director, new student seminar
I teach courses in early U.S. and Latin American history, as well as historiography. I’m passionate about the study of history and share that passion in my classes. I try particularly to bring diverse voices and uncommon perspectives into the conversation as my students and I “do” history together. My particular areas of interest include popular movements, radical politics, and theories of nationalism and state formation, and my current book project is a study of riot and rebellion in early America. In my spare time, I delight in hanging out with my wife, children, and our menagerie of dogs and cats. I avidly follow the Cleveland Indians and New England Patriots. I also enjoy heavy metal and punk rock, and of course love to read history, philosophy, and anything else that looks interesting. In many ways, I am more of a student now than I was in college! One of the best things about being here at Grand View is the opportunity to work with so many interesting and dedicated students and faculty—it’s truly a gift.
Faculty Website

Dr. Amy Getty, professor of English and Director for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
Hello! I've been a professor at Grand View since 2002. I teach a variety of classes, including American Literature, First Year Composition, Children's Literature, Shakespeare, Film as Literature, and Women's Literature. Variety is the spice of life, and I think a diverse range of interests keeps everyone healthy. I also believe in the power of education to transform lives. My husband and I live in Des Moines with our two cats, Dean Moriarty and Morticia DeVille. I spend my free time in the summer reading good books and watching movies. I look forward to seeing you in class!
Faculty Website


Dr. Avilah Getzler, professor of English
I am a California transplant trying to get used to the cold Iowa winters. Here at Grand View I teach Survey of British Literature, Introduction to Literature, Global Literature, Composition, and seminars on the novel. I love long juicy novels- especially those from Victorian England. When my head isn't buried in a book, I like to travel, backpack, and scuba dive.

Rev. Dr. Ken Jones, professor of philosophy and religion
When I head home at the end of the day, I can say it was a good day if I’ve encountered curious students and experienced animated discussion in my classes. It’s even better if I’ve been able to contribute to either one. I relish the freedom and support Grand View gives me to be creative in helping students dig in, grab hold, and learn. So don’t be surprised if zombie movies, roller coasters or cheesy TV crop up in my classes.

Dr. Therese Judge, associate professor of English and chair of the English department
Greetings! My academic area of expertise is writing done by people at work. I teach courses like Writing for Business, Introductory and Advanced Technical Writing, Introduction to Linguistics and Writing in the Social Services. I thoroughly enjoy nearly all aspects of the functioning and processes of language. The kinds of things I enjoy outside of work are campfires, houseplants, and learning and playing with new software.

Dr. John Lyden, visiting professor of religion and philosophy
This is my third year at Grand View, and my first as Liberal Arts Core Director. That means I oversee the operation of the Liberal Arts Core, which includes all the courses students take to broaden them beyond their majors, and which give them a perspective on diverse ways of understanding themselves and the world. I believe that a Liberal Arts education will not only prepare you to be employed, but will give you the skills to function in society as a well-rounded critical thinker who can examine anything with curiosity, an open mind, and an open heart.  My academic background is in Philosophy and Religion, and I have a tremendous interest in movies; I authored the book Film as Religion: Myths, Morals, and Rituals (NYU Press, 2003) and edited the Routledge Companion to Religion and Film (Routledge, 2009). I also edit the online Journal of Religion and Film which includes an annual trip to the Sundance Film Festival. I enjoy challenging students to think "outside the box," so my classes  include a lot of reflection. I hope students leave my classes able to imagine a world in which they would like to live, as well as able to contribute to changes to make it that way. 

Rev. Dr. Mark Mattes, professor of philosophy and religion
Greetings! I have taught at Grand View since 1995. I typically teach Living Religions, Introduction to Philosophy, Philosophy of Human Nature, and History of Theology. I have lectured in Calcutta, India, Germany, Porto Alegrem, Brazil, and throughout the United States. I have authored, translated, or edited six books and have written numerous journal articles and reviews. I seek to help students grow in critical thinking skills which they can apply to their majors and their lives. My goal is that Grand View alums will approach life and their involvement in the world in a reflective, socially engaged manner that honors civility and integrity. I grew up fishing for salmon in the Pacific Northwest, and I hunt deer and pheasants here in Iowa.
Faculty Website

Dr. Matthew Plowman, associate professor of history
University is about discovering your world, your place in the world, and yourself. My own quest has taken me into teaching specialties that include World War I, Modern Britain, British Empire, Modern Africa, Roman Republic and Empire, Viking Europe, and European intellectual and cultural history. I find issues, events, and people surrounding identity, nationalism, imperialism, and ethnic conflict to be the most interesting. As a student of history, I am obsessed in sort of an X-Files manner with discovering truths about British intelligence and the Indo-German-Irish conspiracies of World War I. I enjoy watching my students find their own obsessions of discovery and integration. I read Kierkegaard and Steinbeck for pleasure and cherish time with my wife and daughter. I am a huge fan of the SF Giants and Hawaiian shirts.

Steve Snyder, professor of humanities
I’ve been at GV since 1991. I received the Outstanding Teacher Award and helped revise assessment at the institution. I enjoy engaged students full of questions, so I try to be an engaged professor full of questions. I’m married, with one son. I truly love teaching and I follow the Cubs, but all my other habits are good! See you in class!
Faculty Website

Dr. Evan Thomas, professor of history
I offer instruction in a variety of history courses, including Western Civilization I and II, Modern Russia, Recent and Contemporary U.S. History, Modern East Asia, and Women in Professions. I seek to increase my students’ appreciation for the values and skills of a liberal arts education—intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, effective writing, and above all, love of learning. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach at Grand View University.


Dr. Katharina Tumpek-Kjellmark, professor of history
Welcome! I know a lot of you may wonder how the study of history can get you a good job. My job every semester is to ignite some excitement in my students for studying the past; it’s a lot more than just memorizing dates and names! I try to show how people like you and I make history and how studying what our ancestors did can help us develop the skills and integrity we will need in life’s many challenges and adventures. I teach World history, Western Civilization and women’s history. I take students to Europe on a study abroad tour and I work with service learning trips in our nation. I love to travel, hike with my husband and dog, watch old movies and, of course, read.


Coralie Turner, associate professor of Spanish
Language proficiency requires a balance of academic work and real life application. Academic work alone is insufficient to gain a true grasp of a language. I encourage students to involve themselves in opportunities that enhance communication, cultural immersion and community service. Everyone can learn a second language, though the process may vary from person to person. My favorite hobby is spending time with people and my favorite people are my husband, Tom, and our sons, Ryan and Reid, and my daughter-in-law, Stephanie, and daughter, Brittany. I host Bible study group in my home, mentor young moms and work on various Spanish-related projects in the community.