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Eight faculty members promoted

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Eight members of the Mercyhurst University faculty have been recently promoted, including Daniel McFee, Ph.D., who was named a full professor of religious studies.

At its June meeting, the Mercyhurst Board of Trustees awarded tenure to three faculty members and promoted them to the rank of associate professor: Dyan L. Jones, Ph.D. (physics); Amy D. Parente, Ph.D. (chemistry); and Solveig R. Santillano, M.F.A. (dance).

In addition, Kari Dundore-Shrout, M.S., has been promoted to assistant professor of biology, while Sarah Bennett, M.S. (biology); Brian Sheridan, M.A. (communication); and Peter Stadtmueller, M.S. (graphic design) have been promoted to lecturer.


Daniel McFee chairs the religious studies department and is co-director of the Evelyn Lincoln Institute for Ethics and Society at Mercyhurst. He holds a Ph.D. in religion and ethics from Marquette University, an M.Div. in ethics from Duke University, a B.A. in modern history and ancient Greek from Bowling Green State University, and did postgraduate training at Durham University. He publishes and lectures in the areas of science and religion, environmental ethics, and emerging technologies and ethics. As the winner of the 2015 Teaching Excellence Award at Mercyhurst, he was the featured speaker at commencement this year.

Dyan Jones received her Ph.D. in physics from Kansas State University, her M.S. in physics from Miami University, and her bachelor’s from Edinboro University. Her research interests focus on how students construct an understanding of physics, with particular focus on optics and the use of mathematics in problem solving. She has published and presented her work widely. She has been deeply involved in the institutional assessment process at Mercyhurst and took the leadership role in developing the new physics major. In 2014, the American Association of Physics Teachers awarded her its Distinguished Service Citation.

Amy Parente earned both her Ph.D. in bioorganic chemistry and her master’s in chemistry from the University of Rochester, after graduating from SUNY Fredonia. Parente was an American Cancer Society-funded postdoctoral researcher at Penn State and has authored nearly a dozen publications and secured more than $675,000 in research funding over the past 15 years and considers herself an “environmental biochemist.” She has developed patent-pending technologies in her laboratory to detect the artificial sweetener sucralose in environmental water samples and is collaborating with experts in the field of fresh-water plastic pollution to understand the effects of microplastics on Great Lakes microorganisms. 

Solveig Santillano enjoyed a career of international touring as a soloist and choreographic collaborator with the innovative MOMIX Dance Company before joining the Mercyhurst faculty. She holds an M.F.A. in dance from Hollins University, an M.A. in dance and movement studies from Wesleyan University, and a B.F.A. in dance from the Juilliard School aw well as multiple yoga certifications. She continues to perform throughout the community and beyond with SoMar Dance Works, the contemporary dance company in residence at Mercyhurst that she co-founded with her husband, Mark. She has a passion for collaborations and interdisciplinary work and for using dance to build community, stimulate awareness and conversations surrounding social issues, and facilitate transformation. She has been instrumental in securing grants to bring dance performances and programs to Erie.

Kari Dundore-Shrout directs the biology department at Mercyhurst North East. She earned her degree in biology from Juniata College and worked for a year as a laboratory technician at Penn State Main Campus, where she studied whooping cough. She later received a master’s degree in science education from Edinboro University.



Sarah Bennett graduated from Michigan State University with both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in zoology with a specialization in ecology, evolutionary biology and behavior. At present, she’s conducting a faculty-student research project at Presque Isle to assess whether the pesticide permethrin is effective in controlling the population of deer ticks, which can transmit the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease.


Brian Sheridan, a 1987 Mercyhurst graduate, also holds a master’s degree from Edinboro University. In addition to his classroom duties, he is the adviser to Laker TV, the student-run cable channel. He had an extensive career in broadcast journalism, working as a producer, reporter and anchor before returning to Mercyhurst to teach. He has interviewed major figures including singer Tony Bennett, Hillary Clinton and the Dalai Lama. Sheridan is also the editor of Erie’s Warner Theater: A Picture Palace Transformed and co-author of America in the Thirties (Syracuse University Press). He is a frequent contributor to Lake Erie Lifestyle and Her Times, as well as had articles published in the Journal of Asian Martial Arts, Kung Fu/Tai Chi, and Classic Images.

Peter Stadtmueller directs the graphic design program at Mercyhurst. He earned a bachelor’s degree in technology education from California University of Pennsylvania and started his teaching career as a technology education teacher in Pennsylvania public schools. He later earned a master’s degree in information science/telecommunications from the University of Pittsburgh while working as a computing and web consultant in the Pittsburgh area. He continues to publish web sites for global touring rock musicians, off-road racers, nonprofit organizations and artists.