The Flourishing Academic

A blog for teacher-scholars published by the Duquesne University Center for Teaching Excellence


The Flourishing Academic is a Duquesne University multi-voice blog devoted to exploring the question, “How can we as teacher-scholars thrive in academia?”  We feature posts on teaching, learning, and academic career success by faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) staff. We hope you visit us often, comment actively, and teach enthusiastically!

We are committed to fostering a friendly, resource-oriented online community. We welcome and encourage commenting on our blog; to that end, we request that you refrain from naming students and faculty in your comments.

Laurel Willingham-McLain,  Co-Editor

Laurel has proudly served at CTE since 1999.   As director, she oversees instructional and professional development for faculty and graduate student TAs across Duquesne University. She consults with faculty on teaching and academic career success, and with department chairs and directors on various higher education topics.  Laurel earned a PhD in French linguistics from Indiana University (Bloomington) and has published on faculty and TA development.

Erin Rentschler, Co-Editor

As CTE’s Assistant Director for Educational Development, Erin provides resources and programming and consults with faculty and graduate students across Duquesne University on topics related to college teaching/learning and academic career success.

Erin earned a Ph.D. in English from Duquesne University in 2016.  In her dissertation, she explored race and ethnicity in American novels representing the Vietnam War. She hopes that her project will contribute to both the critical discussion of fiction representing a particular historical moment and to conversations about teaching controversial and sensitive topics such as war, race, and ethnicity. To that end, she has presented her work at conferences focusing on both scholarship and teaching.

Christina Frasher,  Contributor and Content Editor

Christina joined CTE in July 2017. As an instructional consultant,  she supports graduate teaching assistants to help them better prepare for college teaching across the disciplines. Her other responsibilities involve managing various components of the CTE website, developing teaching resources, and offering consultation for TAs who are preparing to enter the job market and would like to review statements of teaching philosophy, cover letters, and CVs.

Christina is working on her PhD at Duquesne in the Counselor Education and Supervision doctorate program. Her research interests include psychology of the feminine, liberation psychology, Jungian psychotherapy, somatic psychology and the expressive art therapies. She teaches as an adjunct instructor at Point Park University in psychology and uses her teaching experiences as an additional support for TAs.


Steven Hansen, Contributor and Content Editor

Steve became the associate director for faculty development at CTE in 2008. Among his responsibilities, he directs the TA program, oversees faculty and TA workshops, and develops teaching and learning resources. He also directs the graduate student award for excellence in teaching and is co-facilitating the campus conversation on Spiritan pedagogy with the Center for the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

Steve’s PhD is in Systematic Theology. As a faculty developer, his scholarship focuses on instructional strategies and graduate student development.


Rachel Luckenbill, Founding Editor

Rachel created and edited the Flourishing Academic blog in 2014-2015, while working at CTE.

Rachel earned a B.A. in English from Lebanon Valley College and an M.A. in English from Villanova University. She taught at Lebanon Valley College 2005-2009.  She earned a Ph.D. through Duquesne’s English Department 2016.  In her dissertation she examined representations of Christianity in contemporary Native American fiction and poetry, and the role of literature  in reconciliation  between disparate cultures.  She is delighted to serve as assistant professor at Southeastern University starting fall 2016.

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