Welcome new faculty members

By: Alan D. LaFave, D.M.A.
Date: Aug. 21st, 2019
Greetings from Valley City State University!

As part of Welcome Week activities on campus, we recently welcomed 10 new members of the faculty to the VCSU community. I’m excited by the energy, enthusiasm and experience they bring to their teaching positions with us, and I’m pleased to introduce them via the biographical sketches below. Note that several are renewing their ties to campus.

A native of Bemidji, Minn., Gina Aalgaard Kelly returns to VCSU as professor of social science and grants director; she was assistant professor and social science chair at VCSU from 2005-08. Prior to her return, Gina had served as associate professor of medical and aging sociology at North Dakota State University since 2011. She holds a Ph.D. in family social science from the University of Minnesota along with master’s and bachelor’s degrees in sociology from NDSU. Gina has three children, Caemon, Avalon and Seamus, and her partner is Steve Neset. She fishes, runs marathons and plays the trumpet and piano.

Born and raised in northern Kentucky, Kiersten Baughman joins the Social Science Department as associate professor in psychology. Kiersten previously taught at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky. She holds doctoral and master’s degrees from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor’s degree from Morehead State in Kentucky. Kiersten and her husband, Mike, are joined in their household by three large dogs.

Abigail Bremer, new assistant professor in the School of Education and Graduate Studies, is completing her doctorate in educational leadership at Minnesota State University Moorhead, where she previously taught in the School for Teaching and Learning. Abigail and her husband, Marshall, have two sons, Maxwell and Mason, and she enjoys tennis, gardening, cooking and travel.

Gratia Brown has traveled north from Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., to join the Art Department as assistant professor. She grew up in the New Haven, Conn., area and holds an MFA in ceramics from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Her academic interests include mixed media ceramic sculpture, fragments, and socially engaged art practice. Her husband is Spencer Dobson.

Sabrina Brown comes to Valley City State from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where she earned a Ph.D. in earth and atmospheric science. Sabrina will be teaching in the VCSU Science Department as assistant professor of geology. In addition to her doctorate, she holds a master’s in earth and quaternary science, and a bachelor’s degree, both from Indiana State University. Sabrina’s partner is Nick Spendal.

Yang Du has joined the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department as assistant professor. Yang grew up in northeast China (where he says it can be as cold as North Dakota!) and earned a doctorate in electrical engineering from Beihang University in Beijing. He served as a visiting scholar in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NDSU in Fargo from 2009-11, and he is now a Ph.D. candidate (all but dissertation) in computer science there. Yang and his wife, Xin, look forward to fishing in the Valley City area.

Michael Kostick serves as assistant professor in the Kinesiology and Human Performance Department. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Lock Haven University and a master’s degree in health and physical education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pa., where he is also a doctoral student in curriculum and instruction. Michael is an avid fan of Pittsburgh sports teams and enjoys football, baseball, hockey, pickleball, ultimate and disc golf.

VCSU alumna Lisa (Bue) Krumwiede is now assistant professor in the Department of Technology. A participant in the VCSU/NDSU dual-degree program, she holds a bachelor’s in elementary education from VCSU and a bachelor’s in child development and family science from NDSU. Lisa also earned a master’s degree in technology education with a STEM certificate from VCSU. She played basketball for the Bison and professionally in Europe for two years after her undergraduate career. Lisa and her husband, K.C., have a daughter Clara and son Tommy, with a third child on the way.

Serving as Spanish instructor in the Department of Language and Literature is Brooke Sandoval, who grew up in Upsala, Minn. Brooke holds a master’s in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) from Minnesota State University Moorhead and a bachelor’s in Spanish education from Concordia College in Moorhead. Mother to daughter Sofia and son Simon, Brooke is also a zumba enthusiast.

Alumna Angie Saxlund returns to VCSU as assistant professor in the School of Education and Graduate Studies after teaching third grade in at Aurora Elementary in West Fargo for 14 years. Angie will direct the online elementary education program. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from VCSU, she holds a master’s degree from Minot State University. Angie and her husband, Steve, are the parents of three daughters: Brooklyn, Peyton and Brynlie. She enjoys golfing and spending time with family and friends.

That’s an impressive group, and I’m so glad to have them with us this fall. Please join me in welcoming these outstanding faculty members to VCSU and Valley City! I’ll share information about our new staff members in the near future as we enter this new and exciting academic year.

Go Vikings!