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Passionate, supportive faculty and staff  

Faculty and staff members in the College of Liberal and Applied Arts are a diverse group with a wide range of interests, from language and communications to history, psychology, government and sustainability. But they all have one thing in common: They truly love teaching. As a student in the College of Liberal and Applied Arts, you’ll take classes taught by dedicated professors who want to help you succeed. You’ll have access to a variety of learning experiences, including study abroad programs, field work, internships and cultural events. You’ll graduate with the skills, knowledge base and experience you need to take on your next challenge.

Meet SFA’s liberal arts leaders


Dr. Brian M. Murphy
Dean of the College of Liberal and Applied Arts

Dr. Brian Murphy holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Dayton and a Master of Arts and doctorate in political science from Miami University.

Prior to his position as Dean of the College of Liberal & Applied Arts at Stephen F. Austin State University, Dr. Murphy was Co-Director of the European Union Center for the University System of Georgia, which was housed at Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as professor of Political Science at the University of North Georgia (UNG). His administrative positions at UNG included head of the Department of Political Science & Criminal Justice, Director of the Honors Program, Coordinator of International Programs and Associate in the Office of Academic Affairs. From 1997-2007, Dr. Murphy directed the University System of Georgia’s program on European Union Studies. In 1998, he was appointed General Secretary of the Transatlantic Information Exchange Service, a program launched by the European Commission and United States Information Agency. In 2006, Dr. Murphy was appointed to a strategic planning committee for the University System of Georgia to prepare higher education in the state to leverage competition in the global economy.

Dr. Joyce A.C. Johnston 
Associate Dean

Dr. Joyce A.C. Johnston has taught all levels of French language, Francophone literature, culture and civilization as well as introductory Spanish. Her primary research interests are 19th century French women dramatists, French theater, gender and humor. She is the author of the book Women Dramatists, Humor and the French Stage: 1802-1855. Johnston holds a Master of Arts in French literature and a Ph.D. in French literature from Indiana University.

Dr. Mark Sanders
Associate Dean 

Dr. Mark Sanders holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Kearney State College (now the University of Nebraska at Kearney) and a doctorate in modern poetry from the University of Nebraska Lincoln. He also holds a second doctorate in higher education leadership from the University of Idaho. His teaching and research interests include composition, creative writing (poetry, fiction, nonfiction and prosody), introduction to literature, western American literature, modern poetry, British literature, contemporary poetry and Great Plains literature.

Sanders' short stories and creative essays have appeared in such journals as Glimmer Train, South Dakota Review, Shenandoah, North Dakota Quarterly, Ninth Letter, River Teeth, The Midwest Quarterly and Prairie Schooner, among others.  His short story, Why Guineas Fly, was selected as one of the 100 notable short stories from 2006 by Stephen King in the 2007 edition of Best American Short Stories; his creative essay, Homecoming Parade, was similarly honored as one of the outstanding essays of the year in the 2016 edition of Best American Essays. Dr. Sanders is the author and editor of numerous books, including The Suicide, Before We Lost Our Ways, Here in the Big Empty, Landscapes with Horses, Conditions of Grace: New and Selected Poems, Why Guineas Fly: Stories, The Red Book: The Selected Poems of Kathleene West and The Weight of the Weather: Regarding the Poetry of Ted Kooser, among others. His anthology, A Sandhills Reader: 30 Years of Great Writing from the Great Plains, won the 2016 Nebraska Book Award. He received the Mildred Bennett Award for fostering Nebraska's literary heritage in 2007, and he was inducted into his high school alma mater's Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame in 2018.

He has published more than 500 poems in journals in the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Australia, and he is a frequent consultant to such academic publishers as McGraw-Hill, Cengage and the University of Nebraska Press.


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