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Librarian and Instructor
Vise Library
Doris & Harry Vise University Library
B.A., University of North Carolina
M.S., East Carolina University

A. Rebecca Murphy joined the Vise Library team in Fall 2023 as an Instruction Librarian. She completed her Masters of Library Science program in December 2022 through East Carolina University. She previously worked as an Assistant Librarian for the Henderson County Public Library system in North Carolina for two years.

Rebecca grew up in Asheville, North Carolina and earned her Bachelors of the Arts in History at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She briefly studied acupuncture at a local college before pursuing a degree in Library Science. She enjoyed being on a college campus and decided to pursue an academic concentration at East Carolina University, specifically hoping to work with student researchers. In her free time, she enjoys reading historical nonfiction, writing, gardening, caring for her various pets, and spending time with her friends and family.


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Academic Coach and Instructor
Learning and Career Commons, Room 203
Academic Success Center, Office of Enrollment, Admissions, and Student Financial Services
A.A., Volunteer State Community College
B.A., Austin Peay State University
M.A., Tennessee Technological University

Hannah Cole is an academic coach at Cumberland for the Millard and JJ Oakley School of Humanities, Education & the Arts. In this role, Hannah is dedicated to helping students succeed at Cumberland and thrive during their time at the university.

Before Cumberland, Hannah worked as a Graduate Assistant for Tennessee Technological University where she taught English Composition and tutored students in writing. At Tech, she earned her Master of Arts in English. Prior to that, Hannah received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Austin Peay State University.

Outside of her role at Cumberland, Hannah enjoys reading at home with her three cats, concerts, and movie theater popcorn.


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Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Memorial Hall, Room 301-B
The Labry School of Science, Technology, and Business
B.S., Arizona State University
Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Dr. Snelling joined the faculty at Cumberland University in the fall of 2023, as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry. His wife Debbie also joined the chemistry faculty as an Adjunct Instructor of Chemistry.

Dr. Snelling graduated in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Arizona State University. He conducted two years undergraduate research that resulted in the first computer program that allowed chemists to view and manipulate true 3D renderings of organic compounds. He was a founding member of Beta Omega Chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma, a professional chemistry fraternity and was also a member of Sigma XI, The Scientific Research Honor Society.

After graduating, he went on to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and in 1981 earned a Ph.D. in both Organic and Analytical chemistry. His research centered on innovative mass spectrometry ionization and detection techniques for high molecular weight antibiotics. A major project was to build a novel hardware and software interface for pulse photon detection of extremely weak ion signals. It was later commercialized as the P.A.D. (Post Acceleration Detector) by Kratos. But without a doubt, his greatest achievement was meeting and marrying his wife Debbie who was also a chemistry graduate student, studying x-ray crystallography of air sensitive inorganic molecules.

After graduation in 1981, Dr. Snelling joined Exxon’s Research and Development Laboratory in Baton Rouge to modernize their conventional mass spectrometry facility and build a new research facility. In 1989, Dr. Snelling left Exxon for Unocal’s Science and Research Facility (Union 76), in sunny southern California (but he sure missed the Cajun cuisine in Baton Rouge). There he designed and built a state-of-the-art analytical facility to analyze geochemical biomarkers from core samples to support worldwide exploratory oil drilling operations.

In 1993, Unocal sold their Research and Science facility and Dr. Snelling joined Amway in Ada Michigan to run their quality control and research analytical facilities. This management position was unique because most of the chemists reporting to him only had BS or MS degrees. Significant time was spent mentoring these chemist and Dr. Snelling realized that he particularly enjoyed this facet.

Based on his experiences at Amway, 1996. Dr. Snelling switched careers and joined Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, TN as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. For the next 21 years, he helped to design the new Chemistry building, websites, instrumentation acquisition and maintenance, and wrote all of the labs for the General and Organic chemistry sequences. He was greatly aided in these efforts by having his wife Debbie by his side as the department’s laboratory technician and adjunct instructor.



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Librarian / Instructor
Vise Library
Doris & Harry Vise University Library
A.S., University of Tennessee
B.S., Middle Tennessee State University
M.S.I.S., University of Tennessee

Jessica Fenn joined the Vise Library staff in 2021 as a technical service librarian. Jessica received her master’s degree in Information Science through UT-Knoxville Spring 2020. Jessica had one practicum experience at Middle Tennessee State University in 2019.  She has also worked at Volunteer State Community College as a Library Assistant for 10 years.

Jessica grew up in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University in 2017 and an Associates of Science degree in Psychology from Volunteer State Community College in 2013.


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Assistant Professor of Political Science
Memorial Hall, Room 210D
The Millard and JJ Oakley School of Humanities, Education and the Arts
B.A., Vanderbilt University
J.D., Vanderbilt University

For over 40 years, Jim Shulman has been an invested member of the Middle Tennessee community.

A graduate of Vanderbilt Law School, Shulman had a long career in Tennessee’s state government, including being the lead legal counsel for the state Department of Finance and Administration, chief of staff for then-Speaker of the House Jimmy Naifeh, deputy commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Health, and executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability.

In 1999, he was elected to the Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County Council (25th District), where he served two four-year terms and chaired the Budget, Transportation and Public Works Committees, prioritizing city funding accountability and emergency preparedness.

In 2015, he was elected to the Metro Council as an At-large member and served in that position until he was elected as Nashville’s 9th Vice Mayor after a 2018 special election. He was then re-elected in 2019 for the new term which concludes in 2023.

He begins a new path in the Fall of 2023 by joining the faculty at Cumberland University where he will be teaching political science.

Shulman and his wife Lori have two daughters, Madeline and Audrey. He is a Cincinnati Reds baseball fan and has run ten half-marathons.


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Assistant Professor of Theatre
Heydel Fine Arts Center
The Millard and JJ Oakley School of Humanities, Education and the Arts
B.A., University of Tennessee, Knoxville
M.F.A., Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

Jenny Ballard is thrilled to be joining the faculty at Cumberland University as an Assistant Professor of Theatre.  She is from Knoxville, TN, and has lived in Baton Rouge, LA for the past 13 years, where she served as Managing Artistic Director of Theatre Baton Rouge, and as an Adjunct Professor in the Theatre Department at Louisiana State University.

She received her B.A. in English and Theatre from the University of Tennessee, and her M.F.A. in Theatre Performance from LSU.  She has been acting and directing professionally for over 25 years.  She is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA, and been seen in American Horror Story: Coven, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Cover Me, NCIS: New Orleans, The First, Keanu, and most recently in Apple TV+’s Black Bird.

Favorite theatrical acting credits include Proof, The Taming of the Shrew, Pride and Prejudice, Twelfth Night, All the King’s Men, King Lear, A Few Good Men, The Crucible, and Clue; favorite directing credits include Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Disney’s Newsies, Rock of Ages, Peter and the Starcatcher, The Drowsy Chaperone, Monty Python’s Spamalot, Baskerville: A Sherlock Homes Mystery, The Wizard of Oz, Godspell, and Little Women.


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Assistant Professor of Biology
Memorial Hall, Room 309-F
The Labry School of Science, Technology, and Business
B.S., Austin Peay State University
M.S., Austin Peay State University

Michael Fulbright is a physiological ecologist and functional morphologist. He has worked on a variety of research projects, from cave surveys of bats to the kinematics of snake striking. A common thread of his research is the love and deep interest in zoology. He is looking to recruit and incorporate undergraduates in his research at Cumberland University. As a first-generation college student, Michael is especially interested in recruiting students from underserved communities. A central aspect of his teaching philosophy is that diversity promotes creative thought.

Michael completed his Bachelor of Science in Biology Degree with a concentration of Distributive Teaching at Austin Peay State University (APSU). He then went on to complete a Master of Science in Biology Degree at APSU. His MS thesis was “Habitat selection of cottonmouth snakes”. Michael then went to pursue his PhD at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His dissertation “Bite forces, jaw muscle anatomy, and metabolic costs of digestion in map turtles” is a broad approach at understanding the form-function integration of the feeding apparatuses of freshwater turtles.

Before coming to Cumberland, Michael was an Instructor and A&P Lab Coordinator at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Michael also taught as an adjunct instructor at Austin Peay State University and South Louisiana Community College.

Professional affiliations include the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Herpetologist’s League, American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.


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Assistant Professor of Psychology
Labry Hall, Room 230
The Millard and JJ Oakley School of Humanities, Education and the Arts
B.A., Vanderbilt University
M.S., University of South Carolina, Aiken
Ph.D., University of Texas, San Antonio

Dr. Chelsea Sterne is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Cumberland University. Prior to coming to Cumberland, she served as an instructor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, a clinical research assistant for the STRONG STAR Research Consortium, as well as a licensed clinical therapist working in childhood personality and cognitive assessment.

Dr. Sterne holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, a Master of Science in Applied Clinical Psychology, as well as a Ph.D. in military health psychology. Prior to receiving her graduate degrees, Dr. Sterne served as a U.S. Army officer from 2014-2017.

Dr. Sterne has clinical experience in the treatment of military-related trauma, adolescent and childhood mood disorders, developmental disorders, chronic health conditions, and borderline personality disorder, as well as psychological assessment for both children and adults.

Her research is primarily focused on military psychological trauma, combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder, and comorbid posttraumatic stress and chronic pain. Specific topics of previous research include gender differences in psychological resilience, patterns of psychiatric aeromedical evacuations from military combat deployments, aggression and domestic violence in military relationships, and the efficacy and implementation of various treatment methods for posttraumatic stress disorder and chronic pain. She has also conducted research on genetic biomarkers related to fibromyalgia and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Dr. Sterne’s teaching responsibilities primarily include research methods, behavioral statistics, general psychology, and clinical psychology.


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Assistant Professor of Athletic Training and Coordinator of Clinical Education
Dallas Floyd Gymnasium
The Jeanette C. Rudy School of Nursing and Health Professions
B.S.A.T., Marywood University
D.A.T., Indiana State University

Dr. Heidi Peters graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from Marywood University in Scranton, PA in 2014, followed by her Doctorate in Athletic Training from Indiana State University in Terre Haute, IN in 2019. Dr. Peters has spent time working clinically in various settings including outpatient physical therapy, secondary schools, NCAA athletics, orthopedic physicians’ offices, and most recently as a per diem athletic trainer through Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Dr. Peters began her career as an educator in 2016 as an adjunct in the athletic training and exercise science programs at Marywood University. She continued her clinical work and spent time as a preceptor while completing her doctorate. She transitioned to academia full time in 2021. She continues her traditional research agenda in athletic training education, most recently sitting on the Recruitment and Retention Research Committee for the Association for Athletic Training Education. Dr. Peters practice-based research has focused on athletic trainers’ use of social and media spaces for advocacy, as well as data driven decision making for clinical online education.

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