Lawrence University is welcoming nine new tenure-track faculty for the 2023-24 academic year. Another three have joined the faculty on long-term contracts.

Two of the new tenure-track faculty have been hired into endowed positions.

“I’m thrilled to welcome this group of new faculty, among the largest for Lawrence in many years,” said Peter Blitstein, provost and dean of faculty. “Dedicated teachers, scholars, and artists, their talents will enrich our university in the classrooms, laboratories, and studios.”

The new faculty arrive as Fall Term is set to begin with the first day of classes on Sept. 11. Incoming students arrived Sept. 5 for a week of orientation.

The new tenure-track faculty include:

Head shot of Acacia Ackles
Acacia Ackles

Acacia Ackles, assistant professor of computer science.

Ackles spent last year as a visiting assistant professor at Lawrence after receiving a dual Ph.D. in Integrative Biology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior at Michigan State University. She earned a Bachelor of Science in biology and applied mathematics at The George Washington University.

Head shot of Michael Gesinski
Michael Gesinski

Michael Gesinski, associate professor of chemistry.

Gesinski joins the Lawrence faculty after spending a decade on the faculty at Southwestern University, chairing the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry from 2019 to 2022. He holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of California, Irvine, and a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Rice University.

Andy Hudson looks down as he holds a clarinet
Andy Hudson 

Andy Hudson, associate professor of music (clarinet).

Hudson joins the clarinet studio following five years of teaching at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. He previously taught at Lake Forest College. Among numerous other engagements, he has performed the past three years with the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra in Santa Cruz, California, and for the past four years has served as the North Carolina state chair of the International Clarinet Association. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in clarinet performance with cognate certification in music theory and a Master of Music in clarinet performance and literature from Northwestern University. He earned a Bachelor of Music in clarinet performance from Columbus State University.

Head shot of Kate Rennebohm
Kate Rennebohm

Kate Rennebohm, Jill Beck Assistant Professor of Film Studies.

Rennebohm comes to Lawrence from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, where she has served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. She holds a Ph.D. in film and visual studies from Harvard University, a Master of Arts in film studies from Concordia, and a Bachelor of Arts in film studies from the University of Alberta.

The Jill Beck Professorship in Film was established in 2013 by J. Thomas and Julie Esch Hurvis, members of the Lawrence College classes of 1960 and 1961, respectively, and the Caerus Foundation Inc. This endowed professorship is an expression of the Hurvis family’s gratitude to Jill Beck, their love of film studies, and their conviction that student participation in film studies has an important role in a liberal arts education. Beck served as president of Lawrence University from July 2004 through June 2013. She was the college’s 15th president and first woman president.

Head shot of Aaron Sherkow
Aaron Sherkow '04

Aaron Sherkow ’04, assistant professor of theatre arts.

Sherkow has played a prominent role in Lawrence’s theatre arts program for a decade, first as a technical director and lecturer and more recently as an adjunct assistant professor. He has focused on production management, design guidance, and curricular development. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in theatrical design from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts in theatre from Lawrence.

Head shot of Meghan Sullivan
Meghan Sullivan

Meghan Sullivan, assistant professor of art.

Sullivan returns after serving as a Uihlein Fellow in Studio Art at Lawrence from 2015 to 2022. She spent the past year as a visiting assistant professor of art at Pacific University. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in studio art from the University of Nebraska, a post-baccalaureate in ceramics from the University of Florida, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in ceramics from Massachusetts College of Art.

Head shot of Chunyue Teng
Chunyue Teng

Chunyue Teng, Dennis and Charlot Singleton Assistant Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience.

Teng arrives at Lawrence after four years as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds a Ph.D in cognitive neuroscience from George Washington University and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Fudan University in China.

The Dennis and Charlot Singleton Assistant Professorship in Cognitive Neuroscience was established in 2017 by a gift from Dennis and Charlot Nelson ’67 Singleton. This gift allowed for the addition of a tenure-line faculty position in cognitive neuroscience and established a joint cognitive and neuroscience program at Lawrence. The program offers research tracks and majors in both areas, while at the same time deepening interdisciplinary connections to biology, psychology, philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, and computer science.

Head shot of Jean Carlo Urena Gonzalez
Jean Carlo Ureña González

Jean Carlo Ureña González, assistant professor of music (percussion).

Ureña González worked as a graduate student instructor at the University of Michigan and director of the Michigan Youth Percussion Ensemble as he progressed toward his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Michigan. He also holds a Master of Music and a Master of Chamber Music at Michigan and a Bachelor of Music from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford. He is the co-founder of the Hermanos Ureña Music Academy in the Dominican Republic.

Head shot of Petra Watzke
Petra Watzke

Petra Watzke, assistant professor of German studies.

Watzke joins Lawrence after serving three years as an assistant professor of German studies at Kalamazoo College, four years as a visiting assistant professor at Skidmore College, and two years as a visiting lecturer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She holds a Ph.D. in German studies from Washington University, a Master of Arts in German studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Regensburg in Germany.

More faculty news: Five named to endowed positions beginning this fall. 


New faculty awarded long-term contracts include:

Head shot of Karen Bussone
Karen Bussone

Karen Bussone, professor of practice in entrepreneurship.

Bussone comes to Lawrence with a deep history of business management and development as well as teaching. She most recently served as director of the Small Business Development Center at Illinois Wesleyan University. She holds an MBA and Bachelor of Science degree from Western Illinois University.

Joe Connor '16 holds his saxophone.
Joe Connor '16

Joe Connor ’16, instructor of music (saxophone).

Connor returns to his alma mater after serving most recently as a lecturer of music at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He also has worked as a lecturer at Lawrence in recent years. He is a candidate for a Doctor of Musical Arts in wind performance with a cognate in music theory from Northwestern University. He earned his Master of Music in wind performance from Northwestern after graduating from Lawrence with a Bachelor of Music in saxophone performance and instrumental music education.

Head shot of Brigit Fitzgerald
Brigit Fitzgerald

Brigit Fitzgerald, instructor of music (bassoon).

Fitzgerald has most recently been working as a bassoon teaching assistant at the University of Texas at Austin as she progresses toward her Doctor of Musical Arts. She also works as a private bassoon instructor. She holds a Master of Music in bassoon performance from Texas and a Bachelor of Music in bassoon performance and mathematics from Vanderbilt University.