APU Edge Staff


By Amy Everson
Director, Student and Alumni Affairs

Congratulations to our 2022 faculty members who have received awards from the University! These awards recognize the hard work of 11 outstanding faculty members who have demonstrated teaching excellence at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. They are leaders and scholars dedicated to guiding our University’s students into the future.

Excellence in Teaching Award

Cynthia Gentile, J.D., Undergraduate Excellence in Teaching, Wallace E. Boston School of Business

Professor Gentile received a bachelor’s degree in both English and American Studies from Douglass College at Rutgers University. She also holds a Juris Doctorate from the Rutgers School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and is a Society for Human Resources Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP). 

Cynthia Gentile

Professor Gentile is a past president of the Mid-Atlantic Academy of Legal Studies in Business (MAALSB) and the 2018 MAALSB Conference Chairperson. In addition, she is the Executive Editor of the Atlantic Law Journal. 

Professor Gentile has been a faculty member in the Wallace C. Boston School of Business at the University since 2015. She joined the full-time faculty in the University’s management program in 2018. 

Professor Gentile’s primary instructional focus areas are employment law and labor relations, business law and business organizations, legal and business ethics, and intellectual property law. Her primary research interests are the intersections of business, law and legal pedagogy. 

Before her work in higher education, Professor Gentile was a research and training consultant for LexisNexis, a provider of information and business solutions for legal professionals. She instructed attorneys and paralegals in legal research methods.

Professor Gentile also served as a New Jersey Superior Court judicial law clerk for the Honorable George L. Seltzer, the presiding judge for the Chancery, Atlantic and Cape May counties. Lastly, she enjoyed a multi-year stint as a freelance music critic, authoring more than 250 feature stories for regional and national publications and serving as a senior editor for Rockpile Magazine.

When she is not teaching, Professor Gentile volunteers for organizations with a dedicated history of fighting for legal equality and social justice. She also hosts a podcast with a dual focus on women business leaders and legal rights and responsibilities as related to diversity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace. 

Dr. Ronald Johnson, Graduate Excellence in Teaching, Wallace E. Boston School of Business

Dr. Ron Johnson is a professor in the School of Business. He began with the University as a part-time instructor in 2008 and became a full-time professor in 2012.

Dr. Ron Johnson

Dr. Johnson is based in Tampa, Florida. His teaching and presentations have taken him to locations around the world, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Switzerland, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Finland, and Germany.

He has presented research at numerous academic conferences in Australia, Italy, France and various other locations. His academic discipline is organizational leadership with research interests in corporate social responsibility (CSR), sustainability, and mobile learning.

Dr. Johnson held numerous leadership positions in the military and spent 22 of 24 years stationed in Europe. After retirement from the Air Force, he was the Academic Dean for Central Texas College for over five years and then served as Academic Dean at another university.

Dr. Johnson commonly brings his real-life experience into the online classroom to share with his students. His innovative classroom techniques include bimonthly Zoom meetups with students, often with University leaders as guests.

Dr. Johnson’s “Welcome to Class” package provides students with much-needed information before entering the online classroom. This welcome package is a multi-media work, including a welcome video, a written introduction and links to his scholarly works. 

While on active duty in the Air Force, he earned a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Maryland. Dr. Johnson also holds a master’s degree in human relations and a doctoral degree in organizational leadership, both from the University of Oklahoma. He is also a Certified Professional Coach.

Dr. Johnson is an active member of the Academy of Management, serving as a peer reviewer for scholarly journal articles. He is also the co-executive editor of the International Journal of Open Education Resources.

Dr. Craig Bogar, Undergraduate Excellence in Teaching, School of Health Sciences

Dr. Craig Bogar began his tenure with the University in 2011 as a part-time faculty member in sports management. In 2015, he was hired as the faculty director for the School of Health Sciences. In 2021, Dr. Bogar transitioned to full-time faculty in sports management.

Dr. Craig Bogar

Throughout his career, Dr. Bogar has served in various capacities as Dean of Student Services, athletic director, swim coach, track coach and director of recreational sports, all at the collegiate level. In 2002, he was recognized as the National Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. In 2019, Dr. Bogar was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame at Loyola University New Orleans.

Dr. Bogar resides in Gulf Shores, Alabama. He and his wife, Dr. Christine Bogar, enjoy spending time with their two grown daughters and four grandchildren. He is also an avid swimmer who works out in the community pool and enjoys the beautiful Gulf Shores beach.

Dr. Barbara Cliff, Graduate Excellence in Teaching, School of Health Sciences

Dr. Barbara Cliff began her professional healthcare career as a registered nurse. Over time, she took on leadership positions and eventually became her hospital’s president/CEO.

Dr. Barbara Cliff

During her healthcare career, she continued to pursue higher education and also taught as an adjunct faculty member. Her goal to transition into academia as a second career eventually became a reality.

Dr. Cliff quickly advanced to leadership roles in higher education. She served as an academic program lead for a competency-based education program and as an associate dean of health professions. Later, Dr. Cliff relinquished her leadership roles and focused on teaching. 

She brings a passion to her teaching and weaves her real-life healthcare experiences into student learning opportunities. Dr. Cliff also has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by adult students when they balance careers, family responsibilities and higher education. Her strong desire to help students achieve their goals is consistently reflected in the course evaluation comments from her students.

Barb has a master’s degree in health services administration from Central Michigan University and a master of public administration degree from Oakland University. She also holds a doctoral degree in interdisciplinary health sciences from Western Michigan University and is also a Lifetime Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (LFACHE).

Dr. Cliff joined the University in 2020 as a part-time faculty in graduate health administration and recently became a full-time faculty member in the School of Health Sciences. She values her role and the individuals she works with, admires her students, and is honored to receive this recognition.

Dr. Laura Culbertson, Undergraduate Excellence in Teaching, School of Security and Global Studies

Dr. Laura Culbertson has taught for 21 years. She joined the University in 2012 and is now a full-time professor in the School of Security and Global Studies, teaching courses in Middle East Studies and international relations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago and received her master’s and doctoral degrees in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Laura Culbertson

Dr. Culbertson was attracted to these fields of study because of her interest in traveling, languages, and different cultures, both past and present. She enjoys teaching at the University because many of her students share these passions and have first-hand experiences working or serving in different settings around the world.

Coming from a military family, Dr. Culbertson has always admired the work it takes for veterans and active-duty servicemembers to balance school, military service, work, and family. When she’s not teaching or working on research, she volunteers as an English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) instructor for a local adult education center in Ohio. 

Dr. Keith Ludwick, Graduate Excellence in Teaching, School of Security and Global Studies

Dr. Keith Ludwick started with the University in August 2017 and became a full-time associate professor in the Intelligence Studies program, teaching graduate and capstone courses on professional practices, technology, and intelligence. He also serves on numerous doctoral committees as both a chairman and dissertation second reader.

Dr. Keith Ludwick

Keith strives to merge his practitioner’s drive with scholarly theories to bring actionable recommendations to policymakers. In 2020, he was awarded the SSGS Faculty Membership Award. In addition to teaching at the University, Keith teaches high school history, government and economics classes at a small private school in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Keith retired from the FBI in January 2018 after serving as a Special Agent for over 22 years. He started with counterintelligence investigations in New York and St. Louis and was ultimately promoted to Supervisory Special Agent in the Operational Technology Division at Quantico, Virginia. 

He served the FBI in various capacities, including the Tactical Operations Section, and conducted special operations to support all FBI investigative programs. Keith participated in over 100 covert operations and developed numerous clandestine platforms supporting Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders. He also managed multiple technical research and development projects.  

In 2013, Keith transferred to Tampa, Florida, to assume leadership of the Tampa division’s Technical Squad. He supported all requests for digital forensic exams, implemented all specialized technical attacks and provided continuous information technology support for the FBI.

Keith also implemented and supervised a social media analytical cell, which provided tactical, open-source intelligence for criminal, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cyber investigations. He has also been an officer and C-141 pilot in the U.S. Air Force with over 2,000 flight hours, including several missions supporting Operation Desert Storm.

Dr. Shelli Carter, Undergraduate Excellence in Teaching, School of STEM

Shelli has a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in instructional design and technology from Purdue University and a doctoral degree in biology with a focus on molecular biology from the University of Alabama. After completing her Ph.D., Shelli worked as an employee of a private forensic company, a consultant for the MITRE Corporation, and a research scientist, recruiter, and branch chief of a research group for a federal agency.

Dr. Shelli Carter

Her passions include lifelong learning and making science accessible to everyone, which has led to 16 years of online and face-to-face teaching and a full-time return to higher education in 2016. Shelli joined the School of STEM in 2019 as a faculty director before transitioning to full-time professor in 2021 to focus more of her time and energy on directly impacting our University’s students.

Shelli’s hobbies include running, knitting and aerial circus arts. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors of a local non-profit in her hometown in southern Alabama that is focused on children’s early health and well-being.

Dr. John Rhome, Graduate Excellence in Teaching, School of STEM

Dr. Rhome, known as Dr. John to his students, has been a part-time faculty member with the University since 2011. He is an enthusiastic, hands-on, and results-oriented information technology leader and instructor. He is experienced with building, growing and motivating service-oriented teams worldwide. 

Dr. John Rhome

Dr. John takes great pride in mentoring others and helping them to reach their fullest potential. 

As an IT executive, he spent over 25 years leading transformation in information technology in both domestic and international venues, including the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Hungary, India, the Czech Republic, and Japan. He has led organizations engaged in manufacturing, service delivery and healthcare. 

As an instructor, Dr. John has worked hard to develop classes and mentor students and faculty. He enjoys assisting with any opportunity to improve academic excellence. Dr. John is passionate and compassionate when it comes to his students and will meet with them whenever necessary.

Dr. John finds great interest in pursuing his professional, academic and personal endeavors. One minute you might find him lecturing to a group of students or IT executives, then you may find him fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Dr. John and his wife Paulette are also very active with non-profits. They sponsor a mile on the Pinellas Trail, are active in the Daughters of Pinellas, and support veteran and underprivileged groups with their time and through Fish My Florida. 

Outstanding Faculty Awards

Ms. Natascha Gast, Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year and Undergraduate Excellence in Teaching, School of Arts, Humanities, and Education

Natascha Gast joined the University’s Department of English and Literature in 2007 as an adjunct faculty member and became a full-time instructor in 2009. Natascha is the sequence lead for all American literature courses and the course lead for classes such as “American Poetry from Bradstreet to Bukowski” and “Effective Business Communication.”

Before joining the University, she was a developmental editor of industrial trade publications and taught at the American University in Cairo, where she was also the Writing Center Coordinator. Natascha has developed materials and services as well as supervised tutors for two online writing labs. She has two bachelor’s degrees in English and philosophy from Louisiana State University and received a master’s degree in English with a concentration in American Studies from the University of Connecticut. 

Since 2014, Natascha has been an advisor for the R.E.A.D. Book Club, guiding the club from limited member participation to become a thriving organization. This student organization has achieved the highest chapter standing every year, including receiving the Outstanding Chapter of the Year Award in 2021. Natascha works closely with R.E.A.D. Book Club officers and her co-advisor. She has worked on many service projects and collaborations with other student organizations. Natascha has also helped with guest author visits, virtual field trips, presentations and monthly book discussions.

Natascha’s teaching philosophy is to promote lifelong learning and success in all areas. She seeks to instill critical thinking, communication skills and digital literacy in her students through the study of writing and literature. To this end, her professional research and presentations have focused on the use of technology in course design, assignments, and discussions. 

When not teaching, reading or researching, Natascha enjoys the outdoors around her home in Colorado. She also continues to travel the world.

Dr. Osama Morad, Outstanding New Faculty Member of the Year, School of STEM

Dr. Osama Morad joined the University as a part-time faculty of the University’s computer and information technology program in May 2021.

Dr. Osama Morad

Dr. Morad earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cairo University, Egypt. He has also earned master’s degrees in biomedical engineering and computer science from the University of Virginia and a third master’s degree in instructional systems from the University of Maryland. He also holds a doctoral degree in information technology from George Mason University.

Dr. Morad owns and runs his own technical learning and consulting company. He has over 27 years of experience in software development, computer programming, system analysis and design, databases, big data, and data analytics. 

Dr. Morad is active in his community. He is an program evaluator for the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accreditation organization. He also sits on the advisory board of a university graduate program in emerging technologies.

In his free time, Osama enjoys swimming, reading and long walks with his wife.

Dr. Elise Rainer, Outstanding Faculty Research and Scholarship, School of Security and Global Studies

Dr. Elise Rainer is a founding faculty member of the University’s doctoral programs and exemplifies outstanding research and scholarship in her field. While teaching full-time at the University, Dr. Rainer has published extensively and contributed widely to scholarship regarding global security and international relations.

Dr. Elise Rainer

From her career experience with the United Nations, the State Department and other international institutions, Dr. Rainer mentors many of our University’s students – at all degree levels – in building their careers in foreign affairs. Through her international field research, numerous peer-reviewed articles, recent book publication, talks, conference presentations, university podcasts, and foreign policy-related publications, she has demonstrated outstanding research and scholarship.

Dr. Rainer’s scholarship is especially exemplified through her new book, “From Pariah to Priority: How LGBTI Rights Became a Pillar of American and Swedish Foreign Policy,” which was published by the State University of New York’s University Press in November 2021. While contributing broadly to the field of foreign affairs, Dr. Rainer pursues a robust research agenda regarding modern foreign policy that is timely and relevant to foreign policy leaders. 

In the past year, she served as the lead drafter on a report called “A Guide to Inclusion in Development and Foreign Policy,” used by diplomats and international development officers in the European Union. The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently requested follow-up research from this report for their G7 presidency event.

Dr. Rainer currently utilizes her scholarly abilities to formulate relevant foreign policy recommendations and conducts research for multiple United Nations agencies. She produces a wide range of research and scholarly works applicable to a broad audience of students, foreign policy practitioners, academics, intelligence professionals, and the diplomatic community.

About the Author

Amy Everson, the Director of Student and Alumni Affairs, has had the privilege to serve in various roles at the University for over 12 years. In her current role, she leads a team facilitating the leadership and development of students and alumni through campus leadership, student organizations, mentoring, university awards, and recognition. 

Amy believes in the importance of peer-to-peer leadership development as an integral piece of the higher education puzzle. She has worked with more than 500 campus leaders to plan engagement opportunities for more than 70 student organizations.

Amy received her bachelor’s in agribusiness management and rural development from West Virginia University. She also holds a master of science in environmental policy and management and a master of education in student affairs in higher education, both from American Public University.