Staff Bios

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Lori Merrill-Fink became Director of the UHP in 2008, after two years as Associate Director, and 18 years as a member of the faculty of the Department of Theater. Her 20+ year professional career as director-choreographer, singer, and actress includes over 125 productions. She earned an MFA from the University of Arizona in 1987 and was recognized there as one of 12 Outstanding Teaching Assistants. She is the proud recipient of Outstanding Teacher of the College of Communication and Fine Arts, the Undergraduate Student Government Outstanding Teacher of the Year, and the Undergraduate Teaching Enhancement Award, and is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi, and an honorary member of the Golden Key International Honor Society.

Melinda Yeomans, Ph.D. is the Associate Director of the University Honors Program at Southern Illinois University, as well as the Distinguished University Honors Teaching Fellow for 2016-2017 and the recent recipient of the SIU Campus Mentor Award for 2018.  As an interdisciplinary humanities scholar, her work on global citizenry, teaching excellence, and intercultural communication are the foundation of her courses and scholarship. Currently she serves as Education Chair for the United Nations Association of Carbondale, and as the SIU Fulbright Program Advisor. She has been invited to speak locally and nationally on topics of teaching excellence, inclusion, culturally responsive teaching, and progressive education. With 15+ years of university teaching experience, she has developed and taught courses for the University Honors Program, Communication Studies, the College of Education, the Department of English, The Center for Teaching Excellence, and Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. As Associate Director of the University Honors Program, she has helped expand the programs offerings and serves in many roles including faculty development, assessment, outreach, and UHP leadership development. She currently organizes the UHP Distinguished Speaker Series and has served as Provost Assessment Fellow. She is the advisor of three Registered Student Organizations including the United Nations Association RSO. Most recently, she has developed and led a course for the UHP Global Seminar series entitled "Global Citizenry & the New Cuba" (as reported by KFVS-12) which will take place again this May 2018.

David Milley, Assistant Director joined the Honors team mid-fall semester 2014, coming from the Bluegrass of central Kentucky.  He is a native of Massachusetts, with a B.A. in English from Gordon College and a M.Ed. in Educational Administration and Counseling from Rhode Island College.  David has been highly affiliated with students in campus activities, co-curricular life, leadership development, orientation, residence life, student government and organizations at six colleges in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Iowa and Kentucky, along with academic support, personal enrichment and wellness teaching with middle school students in Kentucky.  He has had an active civic engagement “career” focusing on child and youth advocacy in community, educational, human services, recreational, spiritual and youth program settings in Mount Vernon IA, North Adams, MA and Berea, KY.

Brenda K. Sanders, Learning, Service, Leadership Specialist, is a proud two-time Saluki alumnus and committed to being a lifetime learner! She earned her BS in University Studies in 2007, as well as, two minors in Speech Communication and Workforce Education and Development (WED), graduating with Institutional Honors (Magna cum Laude), while earning her University Honors Diploma. In addition, she was a scholar in the prestigious McNair Scholars Program where she had the opportunity to conduct research. She earned her MS in WED, with her focus on College Student Leadership in 2009. She has gained tremendous knowledge of community, service and leadership through course-work, on-campus work opportunities, traveling abroad, volunteering, and attending/participating in workshops and conferences. Brenda wholeheartedly recognizes the significance of student retention and persistence in higher education. Thus, she is totally committed to student success and to making positive contributions to the University Honors Program students’ journey toward achieving their educational goals!

Cheryl Holder, Office Administrator is a life-long resident of southern Illinois and is married with four children.  She began her career at SIUC with the College of Science, Dean’s Office in Fall Semester of 1990.  Though she has served as Office Administrator for the University Honors Program for almost 15 years, she was a student of the Program and knows the advantages of taking Honors classes.  Cheryl completed the old University Honors Program Graduation Option and received her BS degree in Paralegal Studies for Legal Assistants in spring of 2005.