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Passionate, supportive faculty and staff  

Faculty and staff 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, fieldwork, 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

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 and Applied Arts at SFA, he was co-director of the European Union Center for the University System of Georgia, which was housed at the Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as professor of political science at the University of North Georgia. His administrative positions at UNG included head of the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, director of the Honors Program, coordinator of international programs and faculty associate in the Office of Academic Affairs. From 1997 to 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, he 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.

Joyce Johnston

Dr. Joyce 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.

Mark Sanders

Mark Sanders recently won the Western Heritage Award for Landscapes, with Horses, Outstanding Book of Poetry for 2019 from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.  That collection also won the Honor Poetry Nebraska Book Award for 2019.  He is a poet, creative essayist, fiction writer, and literary critic, with more than 500 publications appearing in journals in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and Canada.  His short story, “Why Guineas Fly,” was selected as one of 100 outstanding short stories for 2007 by Stephen King in Best American Short Stories; his essay, “Homecoming Parade,” was selected as one of the outstanding works of the year in the 2016 edition of Best American Essays.  His writing has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes more than a dozen times and been listed among the notable works in Pushcart.  He has had poetry featured in American Life in Poetry, a syndicated series published by former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, and on the Poetry Foundation website.

Among his books of poetry are The Suicide (1988), Before We Lost Our Ways (1996), Here in the Big Empty (2006), and Conditions of Grace: New and Selected Poems (2011).  Edited works include:  On Common Ground: The Poetry of William Kloefkorn, Ted Kooser, Greg Kuzma, and Don Welch (with J. V. Brummels, 1983); Jumping Pond: Poems and Stories from the Ozarks (with Michael Burns, 1983); Three Generations of Nebraska Poets (with Stephen Meats, 2011); Riddled with Light: Metaphor in the Poetry of W. B. Yeats (2014); The Weight of the Weather: Regarding the Poetry of Ted Kooser (2017); and, A Sandhills Reader:  30 Years of Great Writing from the Great Plains (2015).

The Weight of the Weather won the 2018 Nebraska Book Award in the biography category, and A Sandhills Reader won the 2016 Nebraska Book Award for an anthology.

His newest collection of poetry is In a Good Time, published by Wayne State College Press in September 2019.

Sanders is the long-time editor of Sandhills Press, a small, independent press which he started in his  hometown in Ord, Nebraska in 1979.  For his work in promoting the poetry of emerging and established Nebraska writers, he won the Mildred Bennett Award from the Nebraska Center for the Book in 2007 for fostering Nebraska’s literary heritage.
He is Associate Dean of the College of Liberal and Applied Arts and Professor of English at Stephen F. Austin State University.