Internal - Faculty & Staff

CFE Staff

Jennifer H. Herman

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Jennifer H. Herman has over 15 years’ experience leading faculty development in higher education and has been serving as the first permanent director of the Center for Faculty Excellence since 2013. In addition to facilitating or overseeing 150-200 CFE programs and consultations each year, Dr. Herman has supported Simmons strategic initiatives, including the development of PLAN, teaching for inclusive excellence, and the pivot to online learning. She has been a principal investigator or curriculum designer on multi-institutional projects related to curriculum development, assessment, and teaching strategy, including partnerships with NILOA, the U.S. Department of State, the NYS Small Business Development Center, and Harvard Medical School. Her research focuses on Creating Engaging Discussions, instructional technology, and online education. In her faculty role as Associate Professor of Practice in Health Professions Education, Dr. Herman teaches courses on teaching, assessment, learning theory, and curriculum development for doctoral and CAGS students. Before joining Simmons, Dr. Herman was the founding Director of the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship, Teaching, and Learning at Niagara University. Jennifer holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University at Buffalo and a MA in International Training and Education from American University.

Ruthann C. Thomas

Associate Director
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Dr. Ruthann Thomas is the Associate Director of the Center for Faculty Excellence at Simmons University. Ruthann brings years of teaching and research in cognitive psychology to inform course design and strategies that support both student learning and their metacognitive awareness of how they learn. In her work as Associate Director, Ruthann designs and facilitates a variety of programs for faculty to support inclusive faculty excellence. She also consults and observes faculty teaching. Her commitments to inclusive and equitable teaching, evidence-based pedagogy, and both motivating and teaching students how to learn are the driving forces behind her work. Prior to joining the Simmons community, Ruthann taught in the Psychology department at Hendrix College for 7 years and earned tenure. Ruthann graduated from Furman University with a BA in Psychology and earned both Master’s and PhD in Cognition, Perception, and Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Toronto.

Kristi Mukk

Projects and Events Coordinator
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Kristi Mukk holds a BA in Rhetoric & Communication Studies from the University of Richmond, where she researched and created digital projects and publications about critical theory, archives, digital humanities, and public history. Kristi is currently pursuing a MS in Library & Information Science at Simmons University with a concentration in Archives Management. Before joining Simmons, Kristi interned at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, where she worked on event planning and marketing for events sponsored by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative and assisted with collections management and cataloging in the Military History division. Her other past roles have included working as Content Curator and Assistant Editor for Bunk, doing archival research for the University of Richmond Race & Racism Project, and serving as Communications Director for Ngoma African Dance Company.

Matthew G. Schwartz

CFE Faculty Fellow
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Matthew G. Schwartz is the CFE Faculty Affiliate and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology. He has been a full-time member of the Simmons faculty since January 2018. He currently teaches Anatomy & Physiology and Human Development & Genetics at Simmons and has previously taught at Clark University, Emmanuel College, and Harvard University. He also serves as a PLAN advisor to first year students. Dr. Schwartz received his Ph.D. in Genetics and Genomics from Harvard University in 2016, where he directed independent and collaborative research in limb development and vertebral patterning. He received his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Northwestern University in 2009. Dr. Schwartz is passionate about science education and science communication and decided to pursue a career in undergraduate education because he loves inspiring others to be passionate about science and learning. He loves to see the spark of inspiration in students when they understand a scientific concept and see the relevance to their own lives. While teaching, Dr. Schwartz emphasizes critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and communication over memorization to facilitate significant learning and to instill students with the essential capacities they need to be lifelong learners.