At the start of the 2016-17 academic year, Willamette University welcomes several new tenure-track faculty members across several subject areas:
Shatha Almutawa, Religious Studies
Shatha Almutawa chose Willamette because she can see “this is a community that truly cares about its members — students, faculty, staff and the larger community outside of campus.” Almutawa is a scholar of Islam, Arab history and culture, and medieval Muslim and Jewish philosophy.
A native of the United Arab Emirates, Almutawa completed her B.A. at Mount Holyoke College and her master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. She has held various faculty positions including at Qatar University, George Washington University, Bradley University, Lake Forest College and Cornell College. She was also director of the Writing Center at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
During 2014-15, Almutawa served as senior editor at “Perspectives on History,” where she wrote widely on topics as diverse as an Arabic soap opera set in Cairo’s Jewish Quarter, historic preservation in Brooklyn and history education in China. Her academic research focuses on the esoteric and eclectic teachings of the Ikhwan al-Safa, a 10th century Muslim secret society.
Daniel Borrero, Physics
Borrero comes to Willamette from Reed College, where he was a visiting assistant professor for the past two years. At Reed he was both an advisor for the Latino Student Union and a mentor for the STEMFemmes, a student group for women in STEM.
Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Borrero received his bachelor of science in physics from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s and doctorate in physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research focuses on understanding how fluid flows make the transition from smooth, laminar flow to turbulence.
Borrero is also interested in developing techniques for data reduction in high-dimensional systems. He has already begun to set up his research lab in the basement of Collins and will be supervising two senior thesis projects this year. In his spare time, Borrero enjoys the outdoors and can often be found hiking, camping or rock climbing. Borrero said he’s really excited to meet all of Willamette’s wonderful students and faculty.
Vincent Pham, Civic Communication and Media
Pham earned his Ph.D. in communication from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. For the past five years, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at California State University San Marcos, where he revised the media curriculum and taught courses on social movements, visual rhetoric, popular culture and the media.
Coauthor of “Asian Americans and the Media,” Pham is working on the follow-up, “Asian American New Media,” which focuses on Asian American podcasters, YouTube stars, (micro)blogging culture and new media networks and their efforts, successes and failures in reshaping public culture and the media landscape.
Pham has been interviewed by NPR’s “Code Switch” and U.S. News and World Report and has served on the awards jury of the San Diego Asian Film Festival. He is currently coediting the forthcoming “Companion to Asian American Media” collection set for release in spring 2017. He was excited by Willamette’s “enthusiastic students in small classrooms, dedicated faculty in an innovative program and a commitment to larger civic good.”
Omari Weekes, English
Weekes was drawn to Willamette because of its quality student body. He says, “It was clear that Willamette has some very seriously engaged students who love where they are and want to do everything they can to make it the best university it can be.”
Weekes joins the English department after earning his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. His scholarship and teaching combine specialties in 20th century African-American literature, religious studies, queer studies, black feminist theory and affect theory. His dissertation, “On a Path of Decent Pleasures: Sex, Spirit, and Affect in Late 20th-Century African American Literature,” explores the expansive matrix of non-heteronormative social and intimate relations that characterize contemporary black spirituality. He will teach classes in African-American literature and American Ethnic Studies, as well as core courses in English.
Andrew Gilden, Law
Gilden says he’s drawn to Willamette’s “intimate community of world-class scholars” and loves “its unique setting, with easy access to urban life and gorgeous countrysides.” He will teach property, internet and copyright law, as well as trusts and estates.
His research focuses on intellectual property and internet law, as well as legal issues concerning free speech, civil rights, gender identity and sexual orientation.
Before joining Willamette, Gilden was a Thomas C. Grey Fellow and Lecturer of Law at Stanford University, where he taught social media law, intellectual property counseling, federal litigation and legal research and writing. He worked as an associate in the New York office of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP; his practice focused primarily on intellectual property and media litigation. He clerked for Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Aaron Simowitz, Law
Simowitz says he is “very much looking forward to working with the extraordinary Willamette faculty” and students have really impressed him after just a few weeks. He will teach international business transactions, debtor and creditor law, negotiation and a seminar on resolving business disputes. His research focuses on cross-border business transactions, litigation and arbitration.
Simowitz was previously a research fellow at New York University’s (NYU) Center for Transnational Litigation, Arbitration, and Commercial Law and a fellow at the Classical Liberal Institute at NYU. He taught international litigation and arbitration with Professor Linda Silberman, and before that was an acting assistant professor in the Lawyering Program at NYU. He also taught international business transactions at Columbia Law School.
Romana Autrey, Accounting (MBA)
Autrey will teach accounting for decision making, accounting and incentives in organizations and accounting for managers. Prior to joining Willamette, Autrey taught decision making for accountancy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as financial reporting and controls at Harvard Business School. She has also performed a wide variety of forensic accounting investigations as a senior manager in KPMG's Intellectual Property Services and Channel Management Services groups.
In 2006, she was awarded first place for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation by the management accounting section of the American Accounting Association, one of several honors she’s received.
Andrew Kach, Operations and Supply Chain Management (MBA)
Kach says he’s most looking forward to “engaging with students and having meaningful discussions surrounding global supply chain and sustainability-related topics.” Prior to Willamette, Kach was a senior researcher/lecturer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology’s (ETH Zürich) Chair of Logistics Management for four years. During his time there, he taught quality management within the Master of Advanced Studies program and purchasing and supply management within the Master of Science program. Andrew earned his Ph.D. from New Mexico State University, where he also taught operations management, purchasing and supply management, project management and business decision analytics.
His research interests in operations and supply chain management include institutional-stakeholder influences surrounding sustainability-oriented supply chain risks; the intersection between proactive environmental strategy and sustainable operations within developing countries; and the impact of environmental hostility on manufacturing capabilities and innovativeness.
Qiming Wang, Finance (MBA)
Wang says he looks forward to “being immersed in the new culture and engaging and collaborating with students.” He will teach investments and financial derivatives, corporate finance, corporate control and governance, international finance and financial markets and institutions. His research interests are corporate finance and investments: Initial public offerings, mergers and acquisitions, executive compensation, innovations and patents, insider trading and Securities Class Action Litigation.