Honors College Staff

Honors College Faculty and Faculty Fellows | Honors College Advisory Board


Simon Stacey, Ph.D. [CV]

Associate Director

Jodi Kelber-Kaye, Ph.D. [CV]

Before becoming the Associate Director of the Honors College in 2011, Jodi Kelber-Kaye was a faculty member in Gender and Women’s Studies for eight years. She continues to do research and teach in the areas of critical gender and race studies, LGBT studies, visual studies, and gender and science studies. Besides her research in these fields, Dr. Kelber-Kaye serves as a gender consultant for “B’More Fit for Healthy Babies,” a HHS-funded project that is targeted to help reduce the high infant mortality rate in Baltimore City. Dr. Kelber-Kaye is also currently collaborating on the production of a documentary film about the feminist and black power movements active in Baltimore in the early 1970s. Dr. Kelber-Kaye received her Ph.D. in cultural studies from the University of Arizona in 2003 (where she also earned her M.A. in art history) and has been at UMBC ever since. Originally from Boston, she is happy to make downtown Baltimore her home and volunteers regularly with social change nonprofits in the city.

Assistant Director of Recruitment and Assessment

Michael Stone, M.A.

Michael Stone joined the Honors College as an Academic Advisor in 2016. Michael advises all Honors College freshmen and transfer students and also oversees the Honors College admissions and recruitment efforts, coordinates the Honors Living Learning Community, and develops and implements Honors College assessment strategies. He is passionate about helping students develop an academic identity that strives for excellence both in college and beyond. From applying to college, to being admitted, all the way through the first year, Michael supports students as they develop the self-efficacy, discipline, and imagination that defines an Honors College student. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in history from UMBC. His research focused on Public History, which he defines as a collaborative process that reclaims community power through the expression of historical narratives. Michael’s experience presenting at conferences, applying for prestigious opportunities, and assisting in classroom instruction further informs his work as an Academic Advisor.

Administrative Assistant II

Lisa Whittle

Honors College Faculty and Faculty Fellows

Honors College Faculty

Christopher Allen Varlack, Ph.D., Honors College Lecturer


Dr. Christopher Allen Varlack served as a lecturer in the Department of English at UMBC for four academic years before joining the faculty/staff of the Honors College as well as the Individualized Study Program in 2018. He teaches courses in professional and advanced research writing in addition to literature courses with an emphasis on race, gender, and cultural politics. Outside of the classroom, Dr. Varlack is a dedicated scholar, focusing on tracing the ideological arc of nineteenth- and twentieth-century African-American literature particularly of the Harlem Renaissance era. He has served as the editor of Grey House’s Critical Insights: Harlem Renaissance (2015) and Critical Insights: Civil Rights Literature, Past and Present (2017). His current research includes a monograph that explores the concept of the “black group soul” and the theories of Black cultural, political, and socioeconomic aggregation in the fiction works of Claude McKay. A photographer and creative writer, he also spends his time reflecting on the potential of art to not only reflect the human experience but also to ask important questions about identity, race, social justice, and social change. He holds a B.A. in Communications (2008) from Loyola University Maryland, an MFA in Creative Writing (2010) from the University of Southern Maine, and a Ph.D. in English (2016) from Morgan State University.

Ellen Handler Spitz, Ph.D., Honors College Professor of Visual Arts

Ellen Handler Spitz, at UMBC since 2001, teaches interdisciplinary seminars in the Honors College in aesthetics, literature, psychology, and the visual arts. Dr. Spitz received her Ph.D. from Columbia University and has held fellowships at the Getty Center, Radcliffe Institute, Stanford, Rutgers and the Clark Art Institute, among others. She has taught and/or lectured in England, France, Italy, Israel, the Netherlands, Austria, Spain, Russia, Canada, India, and the Peoples Republic of China. Dr. Spitz has published numerous articles and books, most notably Art and Psyche (Yale University Press, 1985), Image and Insight (Columbia University Press, 1991), Museums of the Mind (Yale University Press, 1994), Inside Picture Books (Yale University Press, 1999), The Brightening Glance (Pantheon Books, 2006; Anchor-Vintage Books, 2007), and Illuminating Childhood: Portraits in Fiction, Film, and Drama (University of Michigan Press, 2010). She also reviews children’s literature in academic journals and for The New Republic online.

Faculty Fellows, 2014-2016

Portrait of ShawnShawn Bediako, Ph.D.,

Portrait of KateKate Brown, Ph.D.,

Portrait of JeffreyJeffrey Davis, J.D., Ph.D.,
Political Science

Portrait of NicoleNicole Else-Quest, Ph.D.,

Portrait of EmekEmek Ergun, Ph.D.,
Gender and Woman’s Studies

Portrait of SusanSusan Hoban, Ph.D.,
Goddard Earth Science & Technology Center

Portrait of SarahSarah Leupen, Ph.D.,
Biological Sciences

Portrait of EveEve Muson, M.F.A,

Portrait of Norman
Norman Prentiss,

Fiction Writer

Dr Megan Wiley RiveraMegan Wiley Rivera, Ph.D.,
Geography and Environmental Systems

Portrait of ColletteColette Searls, M.F.A.,

Portrait of StephenStephen Mang, Ph.D.,
Chemistry and Biochemistry

Past Faculty Fellows

Honors College Advisory Board