Faculty and Staff

Philosophy and Religious Studies Faculty and Staff

The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies prides itself on having quality staff to facilitate our programs and faculty who excel at both teaching and research. With decades of combined teaching, research, and administrative experience, we offer a community of professionals with diverse backgrounds and experiences in the disciplines of philosophy and religious studies. 


Philosophy and Religious Studies Staff

Dr. Steven Fesmire, Chair and Professor of Philosophy


Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies and Professor of Philosophy


Dr. Fesmire's office is located in the department suite, Hemphill Hall 4201. He is available to assist with all matters relating to the department, especially to advise students who hold interest in the department's major and minor programs of study

More information about Dr. Fesmire

Ms. Trena Fields, Administrative Assistant

Ms. Trena Fields

Administrative Assistant for Philosophy and Religious Studies
RU Station Box 6943

Ms. Fields's office is located in Hemphill Hall room 4112, inside the Department of English office suite. She is available to assist with general administrative matters relating to the department.

For appointments with faculty members, please visit the department's main reception area in Hemphill Hall suite 4202.


Philosophy and Religious Studies Faculty

Full-time Faculty

Dr. Guy Axtell, Professor of Philosophy


Hemphill Hall 4205

Ph.D. University of Hawaii'i

Teaching areas: epistemology and metaphysics, philosophy of science, “STS” or science, technology and society studies, and philosophy of religion. 
Research interests: epistemology, analytic and comparative philosophy of religion

More information about Dr. Axtell

Dr. Steven Fesmire, Professor of Philosophy and Chair


Hemphill Hall 4201

Ph.D., Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

Teaching areas: ethics, environmental philosophy, philosophy of education
Research Interests: ethics, education, politics, John Dewey

More information about Dr. Fesmire

Dr. Geoffrey Pollick, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies


Hemphill Hall 4207

Ph.D., Drew University

Teaching areas: world religions, U.S. religions, healthcare and religion, Christianity, Islam, religion and culture
Research interests: religion and politics; women's religious leadership; race, religion, and place; religion and experiences of illness in Appalachia

More information about Dr. Pollick

Darrell Shomaker, Assistant Professor of Philosophy


RU Carilion - Roanoke 
9th Floor, Rm 911

M.A., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Teaching areas: ethics, healthcare ethics
Research interests: adult development and aging, ageism, eldercare

More information about Prof. Shomaker

Dr. Paul Brian Thomas, Professor of Religious Studies


Hemphill Hall 4209

Ph.D. University of Missouri - Kansas City

Teaching areas: worlds religions, unconventional religions, the Bible and social problems, ancient religions and healthcare
Research interests: reception of the Bible, social issues and the Bible, dark ecology in Appalachia

More information about Dr. Thomas

Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Heather Keith, Professor of Philosophy and Executive Director of Faculty Development


McConnell Hall-Library 272

Ph.D., Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

Teaching areas: ethics, wicked problems, unconventional forms of instruction
Research interests: ethics and disability; environmental, social, and personal resilience

More information about Dr. Keith

Dr. Carter Turner, Professor of Religious Studies and Director for University Advancement


Russell Hall 247

Ph.D., University of Denver/Iliff School of Theology

Teaching areas: U.S. religions, religion and sports
Research interests: sports and religion, religion in the South, religion and the Civil War

Adjunct Faculty

Dr. Kevin Cales, Philosophy Adjunct Faculty

Hemphill Hall 4211

Ph.D., Philosophy, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
M.A., Philosophy, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Teaching areas: ancient philosophy, ethics, practical philosophy
Research interests: The Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, Medicine and ancient philosophy

More information about Dr. Cales

Dr. Gilburt Goffstein, Philosophy Adjunct Faculty


Hemphill Hall 4202

Ph.D. University of Missouri

Teaching areas: modern philosophy, political philosophy
Research interests: human liberation, Habermas, Zen Budhism

More information about Dr. Goffstein

Ryan Lytton, Religious Studies Adjunct Faculty


Hemphill Hall 4203

M.A., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Teaching areas: world religions, New Testamemt
Research interests: Christianity in late antiquity

More information about Prof. Lytton

Dr. Eric Rothgery, Religious Studies Adjunct Faculty


Hemphill Hall 4202

Ph.D., University of Iowa

Teaching areas: religion and death, religion in South Asia, world religions
Research interests: Hindu participation in Islamic healing rituals in Hyderabad, India

More information about Dr. Rothgery

Dr. Katy Shepard, Philosophy Adjunct Faculty


Hemphill Hall 4024

Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Teaching areas: ethics, introduction to philosophy, professional ethics
Research interests: aesthetics, art and identity, identity and politics

More information about Dr. Shepard

Mike Zarella, Philosophy Adjunct Faculty


Hemphill Hall 4212

M.A., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Teaching areas: introduction to philosophy, ethics
Research interests: applied philosophy

More information about Prof. Zarella


Emeritus Faculty

Dr. Russell Gregory, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies


Ph.D., Vanderbilt University (Hebrew Bible / Old Testament)




Dr. Kim Kipling, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy


Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University




Faculty In Memoriam

Dr. Joe Jones, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, in memoriam


Ph.D. Florida State University

Dr. Joe Jones was Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. Joe was an Air Force brat. His father took the family to the Philippines for two tours, 5 1/2 years, and one tour in Germany, three years, and did an unaccompanied year tour in Korea when Joe was 6. When Joe was 17, he went to college at Clemson University, majored in beer, and flunked out. In late 1968, at 19 1/2 and with a 1-A draft classification prior to the lottery, he enlisted for 4 years in the Air Force. Between 1970 and 1972, he spent twenty-one months in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. When he was discharged early, just turned 23, he had spent about ten years abroad, which has affected his view of the world. This view is not so centered on the United States as the views of some folk. Better motivated, Joe tried college again, discovered it comfortable, and became a lifelong student. After 11 years, Florida State University said there were no more degrees he could get and threw him out with a Ph.D. in ancient Greek philosophy and mathematics, the history of science, logic, ethics, and a thing called metaphysics. He remained an active learner throughout his life, and appreciated the chance to speak with students concerning philosophical issues, which he sometimes considered ongoing therapy for himself. He always wished for students to also benefit from the conversations.

Dr. Kay K. Jordan, Professor Emerita of Religious Studies, in memoriam


Ph.D. University of Iowa

Kay Jordan, Ph.D., joined the Radford University Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies as Assistant Professor of Religious Studies in 1987, advancing in rank until receiving the honor of Professor Emerita, upon her retirement from the department in 2021. Dr. Jordan was an expert in the religious traditions of India where she spent a year as a Fulbright Research Scholar. Her work in India resulted in the monograph titled From Sacred Servant to Profane Prostitute: A History of the Changing Legal Status of the Devadasis in India (2003).

Dr. Jordan was a prolific teacher with courses in Survey of World Religions, Religion and Women, Religion in India, and Religion in China and Japan. In more than three decades of service to Radford University, Dr. Jordan touched the lives of thousands of students. 

In addition, Dr. Jordan was passionately committed to the service of Radford University. She was particularly interested in faculty rights. In that capacity, she served as the president and treasurer of the Radford University chapter of the American Association of University Professors. She also served as the AAUP Virginia Conference president and secretary. Dr. Jordan additionally served as the Radford University representative to the Faculty Senate of Virginia. She spent many years serving the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences as at-large senator and completed one term as  president of the Faculty Senate of Radford University.

Kay is remembered fondly by her many colleagues and former students. Her contributions to the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, Radford University, and faculty members in the Commonwealth of Virginia continue to make a lasting impact.