New Faculty, Coaches Join North Park University

CHICAGO (September 14, 2011) — North Park University welcomed nine new faculty and three athletics coaches to the University’s professional staff as the 2011-2012 academic year began.

“I am always pleased by the quality of people we are able to attract to North Park University,” said Dr. Joseph Jones, University provost. “This group brings energy and vision that complements all we are trying to do in the future of our students. We selected them because they have established themselves as models of significance and service. We expect them to bring a freshness in vision of what can be in the lives of our students.”

New Faculty

The new faculty are:

Dr. Sandra Gaynor, associate professor, nursing (professional)

Gaynor earned a doctorate from the Rush University College of Nursing, Chicago, and bachelor of science and master of science degrees in nursing from Loyola University, Chicago. She was previously employed by the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago. Gaynor said she was attracted to North Park “by the opportunity to be involved with a group of diverse students who are making their way in this maze of American healthcare.”

Dr. Craig Johnson, dean and professor of music, School of Music

Johnson holds a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music; and master of music and bachelor of music degrees from Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. He was previously chairperson and professor of music at Otterbein University, Westerville, Ohio. Johnson said he came to North Park because he was “very interested in the privilege, challenge, and promise of becoming the dean of the School of Music, a program with such a strong tradition of excellence.” His parents met at North Park while studying in the music program, he added.

Dr. Aaron Kaestner, assistant professor, mathematics

Kaestner earned a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC); a master of arts degree in mathematics from St. Louis (Mo.) University; and a bachelor of arts in mathematics from Indiana University, Bloomington. He was previously a teaching assistant at UIC.

Dr. Isabel Larraza, associate professor, chemistry

Larraza earned a doctorate in organic chemistry from the National University of Mexico, Mexico City. She also earned a master of science in organic chemistry and a bachelor of science in chemistry from the National University. She was previously assistant professor of chemistry, St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind.

Dr. Drew Rholl, assistant professor, biology

Rholl earned a doctorate in microbiology at Colorado State University, Fort Collins. He earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from North Park University. Previously, he was graduate research assistant and guest lecturer at Colorado State University. Because he attended North Park, Rholl said he knew of the “caliber of character” the students and faculty possess. “I wanted to be able to teach a subject that I love to and among these wonderful people,” he said.

Dr. Christine Smith, associate professor, nursing

Smith earned a doctorate in nursing practice from Rush University, Chicago. She earned a master of arts degree in biblical studies from Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, and a bachelor of science in nursing degree from UIC. Smith previously was a family nurse practitioner, Circle Family Health Care Network, and preceptor of nursing graduate students from a variety of nursing programs including North Park University.

Dr. Anne V. Vazquez, assistant professor, chemistry

Vazquez earned a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She earned master of science in post-secondary science education from the University of Michigan and a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pa. Vazquez was previously a temporary assistant professor, Prairie State College, Chicago Heights, Ill.

Dr. Bryan Watkins, dean and associate professor, School of Adult Learning

Watkins earned a doctorate in adult and continuing education from National-Louis University, Chicago. He holds a master of business administration from the Keller Graduate School of Management, Chicago, and a bachelor of science in business administration from Morningside College, Sioux City, Iowa. Previously, Watkins was chief academic and administrative officer, School of Leadership and Continuing Studies, Dominican University, River Forest, Ill. Watkins said he was moved by the University’s strong spiritually centered focus. “I could see that here was a Christian educational institution that did more than simply espouse aspirational core values. North Park was truly committed to the difficult task of transforming words into action,” he said.

Dr. Michele Klich Wayte, professor, marketing

Wayte earned a doctorate in communications from Purdue University, Lafayette, Ind. She also holds a master of arts degree in clinical psychology from DePaul University, Chicago, and a bachelor of arts degree in clinical psychology and mass communication from Purdue. Wayte was previously associate professor of marketing, Concordia University, Portland, Ore. The University’s mission to prepare students for lives of significance and service “deeply resonates with my dream of teaching business students to step out boldly into the world, and tackle some of the most challenging social and economic problems facing us today,” Wayte said.

New Coaches

Three new athletics coaches joined the North Park University staff this year. They are:

Steve Imig, cross country coach

Imig earned a master of science degree in physical education from Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, and a bachelor of science in physical education from North Central College, Naperville, Ill. Previously, Imig studied at Austin (Texas) Presbyterian Seminary and coached in high school and college over the past 10 years. North Park University "is committed to developing a strong cross country and track and field program, and I truly believe that the pieces are in place for the teams to experience great growth and success in looking to the future,” Imig said.

Geoff Masanet, track and field coach

Masanet earned a master of science degree from the United States Sports Academy, Daphne, Ala., and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University. Masanet was previously an academic advisor and NCAA certification officer at Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, and has more than 15 years’ collegiate track and field coaching experience. The University has great facilities and an outstanding reputation in academics and service, he said. “With hard work, pride, teamwork, and a willingness to dream, I believe the track and field team can compete at the highest levels of the CCIW [College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin] and NCAA,” he added.

Kevin Tomasiewicz, pitching coach, baseball

Tomasiewicz earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He previously was pitching coach at Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall. Tomasiewicz said North Park is a great university for students to attend. “I came to North Park because I think that the University, athletic department, and community are committed to helping students excel at their studies and extracurricular activities,” he added.


For further information or resources, contact John Brooks, Director of Media Relations and News, via email or at (773) 244-5522. Learn more about North Park University.

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