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We’d like to extend a warm welcome to the following full-time faculty who joined us this past year, coming to DigiPen from the world of games, literature, and beyond. You can read about each of them below.

We also offer our thanks and congratulations to all of the faculty members who have received promotions or accepted the position of department chair in their respective departments.

New Full-Time Faculty

DigiPen Faculty Courtney Druzak

Courtney A. Druzak, Ph.D.

Courtney A. Druzak, who joined the DigiPen Department of Humanities and Social Science last fall, has been teaching college-level writing and composition since 2014. Her scholarly work spans a range of critical inquiry into contemporary fantasy and science fiction, as well as early modern English literature. Last summer, Druzak defended her doctoral dissertation on “Excremental Ecofeminism: Unearthing Waste’s Feminine and Narrative Agency in Early Modern Literature” at Duquense University.

DigiPen Faculty Courtney Druzak
DigiPen Faculty Andrew Kaplan

Andrew Kaplan

Andrew Kaplan is a DigiPen alum who joined the Department of Game Software Design and Production last fall. Since graduating from the Redmond campus in 1999 with his Associate of Arts in Real-Time Interactive Simulation, Kaplan has spent the last 22 years working primarily as a producer and entrepreneur for studios making mobile games, MMOs, consumer electronics, and more. Prior to teaching at DigiPen full-time, Kaplan also taught as an adjunct instructor and served as a mentor to student project teams.

DigiPen Faculty Andrew Kaplan
DigiPen Faculty Catherine Kyle

Catherine Kyle, Ph.D.

Catherine Kyle is a writer and scholar. She joined the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences last fall and has been teaching classes on literature and creative writing. Winner of the 2020 COG Poetry Award, Kyle has authored seven literary collections, including Shelter in Place, published by Spuyten Duyvil in 2019, and Gamer: A Role-Playing Poem, published by dancing girl press in 2015.

DigiPen Faculty Catherine Kyle

Kefaya Qaddoum, Ph.D.

Kefaya Qaddoum began teaching at DigiPen this spring as the newest member of the Department of Computer Science. She earned her Ph.D. in artificial intelligence from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, and has worked internationally, publishing a large body of research — often involving data mining, machine learning, and more. As a computer scientist, Qaddoum has specialized in applying AI and predictive techniques towards a multitude of problems related to agriculture, cybersecurity, social networks, and other fields.

Faculty Promotions and Department Chair Changes

  • Dr. Ton Boerkoel, Professor (Department of Mathematics) accepted the position of Department Chair, taking over from outgoing chair Dr. Barnabas Bede.
  • Ryan Finnerty, Assistant Professor (Department of Fine Arts) was promoted to Assistant Dean of Curriculum.
  • Iva Groudkova (Academic Librarian) was promoted to Director of the Learning Resource Center.
  • Dr. Vanessa Hemovich, Associate Professor (Department of Humanities and Social Sciences) was promoted to Associate Dean of Faculty Development.
  • Sonia Michaels, Senior Lecturer (Department of Humanities and Social Sciences) accepted the position of Department Chair, taking over from outgoing chair Dr. Fara Nizamani.
  • YZ Tan, Senior Lecturer (Department of Animation and Production) accepted the position of Department Chair, taking over from outgoing chair Jazno Francoeur.
  • Brian Schmidt (Department of Music) was promoted to Principal Lecturer.
  • Dr. Lorena Villarreal (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering) was promoted to Associate Professor and accepted the position of Department Chair, taking over from outgoing chair Dr. Jeremy N. Thomas.