Eleven new faculty members attest to Benedictine’s continued growth 

September 25, 2013

Lisle, Illinois ~ Eleven new professors and instructors who have joined the Benedictine University faculty were introduced at the University’s annual opening day meeting by Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Taylor, Ph.D.

“We are excited to have these outstanding new faculty members join our academic community,” Taylor said. “We look forward to their outstanding contributions as we continue to grow Benedictine University.”

Susan Cheng is an assistant professor in the Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) program. She earned a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from a joint program of the University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University. Cheng comes to Benedictine from the Emergency Preparedness Resources for Native Americans organization in California, where she worked as principal investigator, project manager and environmental health and safety specialist. She currently resides in Naperville.

Cynthia Kuck is a professor in the School of Education. She earned a Ph.D. in Public Policy Analysis and School Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has served as dean of the College of Education at Argosy University and Concordia University. At Benedictine, she serves as director of the graduate programs in Education in the School of Education and the Moser College of Adult and Professional Studies. Kuck, formerly of Pekin, Ill., lives in Chicago.

An instructor in the Department of Psychology/Sociology, Pat Somers earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from Walden University. She is a licensed clinical professional counselor with 20 years of counseling experience. She previously taught at College of DuPage and Waubonsee Community College, and has been an adjunct faculty member at Benedictine since 2006. Somers lives in Winfield.

Apostolos Xanthopoulos is an assistant professor of Finance in Benedictine’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program. He is currently developing a new master’s program in Finance. Xanthopoulos earned a Ph.D. in Management Science with a concentration in Finance from Illinois Institute of Technology. He has worked with companies such as Bank of America and Deutsche Asset Management, and consulted for Allstate Insurance, Calamos Investments, the Federal Home Loan Bank and Deerfield Capital Management. Born in Greece, Xanthopoulos currently lives in Aurora.

Michael Manning is a professor of Leadership, Strategy and Change at Benedictine’s Center for Values-Driven Leadership. Manning earned a Ph.D. from Purdue University and has held faculty appointments at New Mexico State University, Case Western Reserve University, Fielding Graduate University and State University of New York at Binghamton. He currently serves as an associate editor of the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science and is active in the Academy of Management. Born in Montana, Manning is a resident of Las Cruces, N.M.

Ricky Holman, J.D., is an assistant professor in the M.B.A. program. Holman grew up on a farm in Morris and worked for the FBI and the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office before attending law school at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich. He worked in private practice in the St. Louis, Mo., area before returning to Illinois, where he was an assistant public defender for DuPage County and the head public defender in DeKalb County. He currently resides in Aurora.

Ron Baiman earned a Ph.D. and a Master of Arts with Honors in Economics from the New School for Social Research in New York City. He performed graduate work in Mathematics at the University of California-Berkeley and graduated magna cum laude with a B.Sc. in Mathematics and Physics from Hebrew University, Israel. Baiman has taught at the University of Chicago, DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and Roosevelt University. He has published papers on regional, public and international political economics in a number of peer-reviewed journals. Baiman lives in Oak Park.  

An assistant professor of Biological Sciences, Peter D. Dijkstra earned a Ph.D. in Behavioral Biology at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. He served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Fish Biology Group at the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom, then was a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow in Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin, where he also served as a Lecturer in Integrative Biology. His research interests include using integrated approaches from molecular biology, developmental biology, and neuroendocrinology to address questions of how genes give rise to variation in the appearance and behavior of organisms. Dijkstra lives in Wheaton.

An instructor in Physics, Darya Aleinikava comes to Benedictine after holding a postdoctoral appointment at the Chemical Science and Engineering Division of Argonne National Laboratory. Aleinikava earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the City University of New York. Her research interests include finite-size systems, strongly anharmonic systems, condensed matter physics and low-dimensional quantum systems. Aleinikava lives in Westmont.

Piotr (Peter) K. Grzyska is an instructor in the Department of Chemistry. He earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Utah State University in Logan, Utah, before serving as a research assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. His expertise is in the development of large‐scale industrial organic synthesis apparatus and methodology for oil refinery and petroleum products, and the related advanced organic synthesis techniques. Grzyska lives in Woodridge.

Laura Kopff is an instructor in the Department of Chemistry. She earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and served as a visiting assistant professor of Chemistry at Roosevelt University in Chicago before joining the Benedictine faculty. Her research interests include developing new detection and remediation methods for persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Kopff resides in Naperville.

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Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 55 undergraduate majors and 16 graduate and four doctoral programs. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country's fastest-growing campuses between 2000-2010 in The Chronicle of Higher Education's list of private nonprofit research institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the third consecutive year in 2013. Benedictine University's Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain's Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area in 2013.


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