VUSM Faculty

VUSM Community Leaders

Jason Howard
Professor of History and Philosophy
Community Leader for The Ethical Life seminars. 

"It is our unique privilege to be the kind of beings who can participate in the formation of our beliefs, values and choices, but this requires we take some ownership in understanding how our views are formed and, most importantly, how these views can be constructively changed for the better."

Dr. Howard received his Ph.D. from the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium, in 2004.  His recent research interests include the philosophy of technology and media ethics, astrobiology and moral enhancement. He has published articles on Kant, Hegel, Schelling, in the fields of philosophy of emotion, philosophy of education, philosophy of film, ethics, and is the editor of the journal Analytic Teaching and Philosophical Praxis.  He regularly leads seminars for Serving the Common Good and The Ethical Life.

Marlene Fisher
Associate Professor of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice
Community Leader for Living in a Diverse World seminars.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”   - Margaret Mead

Marlene holds a Ph.D. from Iowa State University in Family, Life Course & Aging and Deviance & Mental Health.  She is originally from Des Moines, Iowa, and graduated from Drake University with a BS in Sociology.  Dr. Fisher is a longtime champion for social justice and inclusion; beginning in earnest during her graduate studies and continuing to this day. She has served in leadership roles for numerous professional and community organizations, including the Wisconsin Sociological Association.  She is also a past board president for the local YWCA.

Marlene's service at Viterbo University has included many roles; among which has been Chair of the Women's Studies Committee, Chair of the Diversity Seminar Committee, faculty advisor for the Criminal Justice and Sociology Club and the VU College Democrats.

Mary Ellen Haupert, Ph.D.
Professor of Music
Community Leader for Serving the Common Good seminars.

Dr. Haupert holds a bachelors degree in music education with emphases in piano/flute performance from the College of St. Scholastica, as well as M.M. and Ph.D. degrees in Piano Performance Practice from Washington University in St. Louis, MO.  She has studied piano with LeAnn House, Seth Carlin, and Sona Haydon.   She has received both of Viterbo University’s most prestigious teaching awards--the Alec Chui Memorial Award (2012) and Teacher of the Year (2014)--recognizing her dedication to excellence in student research and music composition.  She was named a Research Fellow for Viterbo University's Institute for Ethics in Leadership (2015-2016).

Sr. Laura Nettles, FSPA
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Community Leader for Franciscan Values and Traditions seminars.

Sister Laura earned a B.A. in Music Education from the University of Wyoming, an M.A. in Moral Theology from the Catholic Theological Union, an M.A. in Franciscan Studies from St. Bonaventure University, and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Theology at the Chicago Theological Seminary. Her research focuses on topics within the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition, specifically the intersection between F.I.T., Catholic Social Teaching as tools for social change. Most recently, Nettles has been exploring the inter-textual connections between Medieval Franciscans and Muslims. She regularly teaches courses in introductory theology, Franciscan theology, Catholic Social Teaching and women’s studies. She is a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.


VUSM Teaching Faculty

Matthew Bersagel Braley
Title III Academic Integration Coordinator, Associate Professor, Viterbo University

Matthew Bersagel Braley is a husband, dad, and has earned a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on social ethics and human rights from Emory University.  He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on global health, social justice, peacemaking, ethics, religion, and servant leadership. He is passionate about getting students out of the classroom and into the community to serve and learn– here in La Crosse and in Africa and the Caribbean through study abroad courses. 

He is a past fellow at the Center for Health, Culture and Society at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health and the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership at Viterbo. He is a member of the International Religious Health Assets Program, which is an international network of scholars and practitioners employing assets-based development approaches to understand the intersection of religion and health care systems globally. Here in La Crosse he serves as part of the Population Health Committee and assists in planning the community’s annual Health Summit. 

As the son of an elementary music teacher and a former youth director, he often brings music into the classroom, and much to the chagrin of his students, is known to lead the class in a sing-a-long. For the past two years he has competed (and lost) in an epic 5k running showdown with fellow track enthusiast and psychology professor, Dr. Saunders-Scott, at Viterbo’s annual Friar Frolic.

Diana M. Cataldi
Adjunct Instructor

“I believe humans are eminently fallible.  Certainly I am.  As such, I try to approach everyone with an open mind and an open heart.  We are surrounded by so much beauty in this world if only we take the time to acknowledge it.”

Diana Cataldi began her formal study of Music at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in Vocal Performance.  She then earned a Doctorate in Musical Arts in Vocal Performance and Singing Health from The Ohio State University.  More recently she has continued her voyage of learning with Post Baccalaureate certification in Communication Science and Disorders from University of Wisconsin-Eau Clair.  Ms. Cataldi regularly leads the Living in a Diverse World seminar; VUSM 251, Global Music in a Diverse World, both on-line and in the classroom. 

Krista Clements Orlan
Adjunct Instructor

Krista Clements Orlan holds a BA in music theatre with a psychology minor and an MA in servant leadership from Viterbo University.  Besides teaching at Viterbo, she also works at Mayo Clinic Health System - Franciscan Healthcare as an Integrative & Healing Arts Practitioner in their Department of Spiritual Care, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine.  Her primary area of research has been in asset-based community development, specifically in what assets religious congregations bring to their neighborhood communities.  Krista and her husband Steve enjoy listening to and supporting their son Sam's passion for the cello.

Melissa Collum
Adjunct Instructor
Rose Award Adjunct of the Year, 2016

“My ambition is to combine my avocation and my vocation for a life of service, purpose and growth of self and others.”

Melissa Collum holds a Masters of Education from Clemson University and is working toward a PhD in Leadership, Learning and Service at Cardinal Stritch University, projected completion in Spring 2018. 

In addition to being a highly valued adjunct professor at Viterbo University in multiple disciplines, Melissa serves as the Director of Humanitarian Development for Open World Cause. Open World Cause provides humanitarian aid and assists in educational development for schools in India, Nepal, and Kenya. Additionally, Melissa works with the UNHCR Educational Development team in the Middle East, Central and East Africa on education pedagogy.

A Fulbright-Hayes Fellow to Rwanda and an Oxford Teacher Fellow, England, Melissa’s international research focus is on the role of women in developing countries. This led her to present at the International Day of the Women Conference, Denmark 2012. Research fellowships include: National Archives, Organization of American Historians, and National Holocaust Memorial Museum Belfer Fellow. An active member of the National Council for the Social Studies, Melissa chairs numerous committees as well as being a past member of the board of directors. She presents thought out the United States focusing on pre-service and first 5-year educators and international issues relating to women and children in developing nations.

As a member of the Viterbo Community Melissa serves as an adjunct representative in the Faculty Council, co-chairs the History Club and has taken numerous students to both the national and state social studies conferences.

Lawrence Engel
Adjunct Instructor
Rose Award Adjunct of the Year, 2015.

Larry Engel holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Marquette University with an expertise in Christian Social Ethics and Community Organization. He is a pastor within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and serves the Five Points Lutheran Church in Blue River, Wisconsin.  Prior to becoming a pastor, Larry served as an Associate Professor at Edgewood College, directing the civic engagement program.  He also worked for the United States Catholic Conference as a Field Representative for the Campaign for Human Development and as a farm labor organizer.  He has 5 sons, 3 grandsons, and enjoys hiking the driftless region!

With a love of organizing and developing leaders, he is a founding member of the Southwest Partners , co-president of the Career Education Cooperative, president of the Richland County Ministerial Association, chair of A Child’s Place Family Homeless Shelter, and member of the Westar Institute. Research interests include first century Christianity, ecumenism, and Christian social thought.

John W. Eyster
Adjunct Instructor

John W. Eyster earned a B.A. from the School of International Service and a Master’s of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary at the American University, Washington, D.C.  He also earned a Master’s degree in Teaching at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater and in Administration from the School of Education, University of Wisconsin – Madison.

An experienced Pastor and educator he has also been a consultant with the College Board for Advanced Placement U.S. Government & Politics, including being a Reader and Table Leader for the national exam.  He taught the A.P. U.S. Government & Politics Seminar for Teachers at the AP Summer Institute, School of Education, University of Wisconsin – Madison with Professor David Canon for 15 years before retiring in 2014.

Mr. Eyster’s primary research interests are effective democracy/civics education for youth and young adults, Christian faith and the “common good,” and Norwegian culture and politics.  (He has resided in Norway on several work assignments and speaks Norwegian fluently.)

Francis X. Kroncke
Adjunct Instructor

Francis X. Kroncke (Frank) is an adjunct in the Philosophy/Religious Studies department at Viterbo University, La Crosse, WI. He instructs online and in the classroom on a broad range of ethical and theological issues and themes. His theological writings reflect his experiences as a social justice activist, federal inmate, and prison reform project director. He is a retired senior manager with a broad range of business development and sales and marketing skills and expertise who has served, over twenty-five years, as an executive, strategic planner, product manager and national sales and marketing director for diverse companies in a range of markets, including start-ups. He continues to provide business development and fundraising services for corporate start-ups and nonprofit organizations.   He holds a Master in Theology (University of San Francisco) and is an “ABD” in Historical Studies in a joint doctoral program at the University of California, Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union.

Richard L. Kyte
Director/Endowed Professor, D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership

Dr. Kyte holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Johns Hopkins University.  In addition to teaching a variety of ethics courses connected to business, leadership, and the environment, Dr. Kyte also writes a regular column for the La Crosse Tribune titled “The Ethical Life.”  He is the author of several books: An Ethical Life: A Practical Guide to Ethical Reasoning (Anselm Academic, 2012);  Ideas Unite, Issues Divide: Essays on the Ethical Life (Piscator Press, 2013); and his latest book, Ethical Business: Cultivating the Good in Organizational Culture (Anselm Academic Press, 2016).

Dr. Kyte regularly leads The Ethical Life seminars, often team teaching with Tom Thibodeau. 

Jean Moore, FSPA
Adjunct Instructor

“While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”
          - St. Francis of Assisi

Sr. Jean holds a Master of Arts degree in Franciscan Spirituality from St. Bonaventure University in New York and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in Curriculum and Instruction – Second Languages and Education.  She has a long and distinguished history with Viterbo University including service as the Dean of Letters and Sciences and Vice President of Student Affairs. 

Her primary research interests include Leadership skills of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi as applied to the 21st century, the Integration of Core Franciscan Values and Ethics in Life Stage Development and Relationships, and Diversity and Community within the Franciscan Spiritual Context.  She also enjoys several hobbies: wood-working, jewelry-making, silver-smithing, playing golf, traveling to other countries, reading, and hanging out with family and friends. I love chocolate, but hate coconut! I aspire to write at least one book.

Lucy Slinger, FSPA
Adjunct Instructor

Sr. Lucy is an Alumna of Viterbo University with a BS in biology and an M.A. in Servant Leadership.  She also holds an M.S. in plant pathology and a Ph.D. in Curriculum Development (Science Education) & Teacher Professional Development with an emphasis in environmental education from Michigan State University.

In addition to 20 years as a professor of Teacher Education before joining the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration Congregation in 2002 she has traveled to all the continents and has been blessed with opportunities to work with indigenous people in Australia and Africa. She maintains an active interest in sustainability and theological studies that includes recent ecojustice, earth literacy, and world religions courses.

Her eclectic background allows Sr. Lucy to blend a rich understanding of science and theology from lived experiences and scholarly works. She has a worldwide history of leading people of all ages to deeper understandings of self, others, God and Earth through presentations, curriculum development projects, and more recently, retreat work. 

Thomas Thibodeau
Distinguished Professor of Servant Leadership

“Servant Leadership is Good Work, Hard Work, Sacred Work, Our Work.”

Tom is a husband, father, grandfather and teacher, active community member from Wisconsin Rapids who has done nothing since coming to Viterbo in 1984 but inspire students, and change the world.  Through the years his infectious enthusiasm, compassion and commitment to leadership and service has also inspired countless colleagues and community members. He is founder of the Master of Arts in Servant Leadership, the first Master’s degree of its kind in the nation, and also a founding member of hospitality and fellowship resource Place of Grace, in La Crosse. Tom is a popular professor, talented public speaker, and an extremely active community member who lives Viterbo values.

Tom regularly leads The Ethical Life seminars, often team teaching with Rick Kyte and also offers a Serving the Common Good seminar focused on homelessness. 

David J. Waters
Associate Professor/Lead Faculty for the Sport Management_&_Leadership Program

David Waters holds a Ph.D. in Sport Management; International and Comparative Education from the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities.

In addition to his Work at Viterbo University he is a Consultant and Olympic Researcher for Hall of Fame for 1904 Olympic Games Heroes at the Milwaukee Athletic Club, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a current member of the International Council for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport, and Dance and the North American Society for Sport Management.

His primary research interests include Olympic Games History, Legacies of Olympians, and Socio-Cultural Aspects of Sport.


Part-time VUSM faculty who are not otherwise employed by the university and are not found in the campus directory include the following: