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Honors Program


The Merrimack College Honors Program offers a rigorous academic experience to some of the College’s best students. It affords faculty an opportunity to teach material they are passionate about to students who will respond with interest and involvement. Faculty are recruited to teach certain classes or can propose classes to the Honors Program Committee. Below are a few of the Honors Faculty who consistently teach Honors courses. 

Kathryn Nielsen, Ph.D. (Associate Director and Multilingual Specialist, Writing Center, Lecturer, Department of Communication Arts and Sciences) teaches Introduction to College Writing; Issues and Topics in Second Language Writing; Writing Across Cultures; Public and Professional Writing; and Writing for Social Justice in the undergraduate program all using technology and Writing Intensive formats. She also teaches Diversity and Social Justice in the graduate school of Education and serves as Fellowship Instructor in the Community Engagement Graduate Program. She earned her bachelors from Merrimack College, received her master’s in English Literature from University of New Hampshire and her doctorate in Adult and Transformative Education from Lesley University. 


William Wians, Ph.D. (Professor of philosophy) was director of Merrimack’s Honors Program for (2) three-year terms (starting 2009 and ending Spring 2015). Dr. Wians has taught philosophy at Merrimack since 1997. In 2002, Dr. Wians was named the Edward G. Roddy Jr. Outstanding Teacher of the Year in recognition of his teaching excellence and his dedication to learning.


Mark J. Allman, Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Religious & Theological Studies) teaches and writes on a host of social justice issues including: poverty, war and peace, and the intersection of religion, politics and economics. His classes tend to be dynamic, discussion oriented, and fast-paced.


Brandy Benedict, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor of the Mathematics Department) has recently created a sequence of Honors level calculus courses.  She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in applied mathematics with an emphasis on computational mathematics from North Carolina State University. 

Kathleen Cain, Ph.D. (Professor, of Writing in the Department of Communications Arts & Sciences, Director of the Writing Center) Professor Cain has paved her way as a legacy of Merrimack College.  As an alumna, she has been a faculty member at Merrimack since 1978, and spent the 2005-2006 school year as a visiting professor in Belfast, Ireland. Her current research interests are writing and writing centers, specifically international dialogue among writing tutors and writing centers. 


Craig W. Looney, Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Physics Department)  Professor Looney received his Ph.D. and M.A. in Physics from Washington University in St. Louis and a B.S. in Physics from Gonzaga University.  Dr. Looney teaches a variety of Physics courses including the Honors Recitation. 


Michael Stroud, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor of Psychology Department) Professor Stroud received his bachelors in biopsychology at the University of California Santa Barbara and earned his masters in psychological science from California State University.  His PhD is in cognitive psychology is from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  Michael teaches a wide range of courses, include the Honors Intro to Psychology. 


Mary McHugh. (Director of the Stevens Service Learning Center, Adjunct Professor of Political Science) Mary McHugh received her bachelors in political science and history from Colby College and earned her masters in political science from Boston College.  McHugh is currently working on completing her dissertation at Boston College. She has been directing the Stevens Service Learning Center since its beginning.


Dr. Joseph Kelley is Associate Professor in Religious and Theological Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations at Merrimack. Joe holds the Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Boston University, a D. Min. in clinical pastoral psychology from the Andover-Newton Theological School, an M.A. in Theology (Liturgical Studies) from the Catholic University of America, and a B.A. in philosophy from Villanova University. Since his arrival at Merrimack in 1974, he has also served as Provost, Vice President for Mission, Vice President for Student Life, and Director of Campus Ministry. He has taught theology and religious studies on the undergraduate and graduate levels at Merrimack and elsewhere.Joe is a clinical psychologist, musician, and distinguished author. He speaks often to parish and community groups in the United States, Europe and Australia. Dr. Kelley teaches a lively and enthusiastic Honors section of Christianity in Context. Visit Joe’s Amazon author page at