Meet the Faculty

Eric Willard

Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences

Eric was born and raised on a prune ranch in Northern California. He is a pretty regular guy who enjoys interactions with nature. Genuine curiosity about those interactions lead him to science a tool for understanding nature. He graduated with a masters in Geological Sciences from CSU Chico, with a option in hydrology (yes that means water). Many people look up to Eric since he is 6'7" tall. Relationships and the the growth that they bring in all forms are a passion of Eric's. Not a stranger to mistakes Eric chose these quotes for your reading enjoyment:

“An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” - Niels Bohr

"A good carpenter isn't one who doesn't make mistakes, it is one who knows how to fix them." - Charles Willard

April Kelly

Department of Communication Studies

My teaching is fueled by my dedication to student well-being and passion for the subjects that I teach. The U-Course is a perfect fit for my teaching style, because it allows us to focus on putting theory into practice and dig deep into meaningful, real world questions. When not working, you're most likely to catch me enjoying something outdoors or spending time with my family. I'm looking forward to the U-Course experience and I'm sure we're going to learn a lot this semester!

Ellie Ertle

Department of Political Science

Hi, and welcome to our U-Course!  My name is Ellie Clifford Ertle, I'm a Chico native and mother of 3.  While technically a political science instructor, you'll soon learn that I really love to think about education...what works, what doesn't and why.  I grew up on 63 acres in the canyons outside of Chico, and went to an alternative elementary school, which set me on my path to understand how we build communities, using government (or not) and what role education can, and does, play.  I spend most of my day at CSU, Chico, driving kids to gymnastics, kung fu and 4H, or working at and for their school. Still, I always have my courses and students on my mind, and you'll no doubt grow sick of the anecdotes I share about how something in my day made me think of you and our work together!  I hope you'll share as well.  I am looking forward to learning with you this semester, and am anxious to get our time together started!

Brenton Farrell

Department of English

My name is Brenton Farrell. I am originally from Southern California but moved here to pursue an M.A in English and have not left since. I like to collect many old things including books, records, and clothing. I enjoy spending time with my wife and rescued Blue Tick Hound, bike rides through Bidwell Park, and caring for my thirteen rose bushes. It is with utter joy that I welcome you to the U-Course: “Learning by Design”. Our team is passionate about creating an alternative academic workspace that is unlike any scholastic experience you have ever encountered.  You will be challenged to work independently and collaboratively to address problems within your new community and find viable solutions. This is an opportunity to help rethink and redesign the conventional classroom and build a meaningful community along the way.  I look forward to our time together this fall.

Kristen Mahlis

Department of Multicultural and Gender Studies

Welcome to the U-Course Experience! My name is Kristen Mahlis, and I an instructor in the Multicultural and Gender Studies Program; I also team teach a class in the Biology Department and another in the Honors Program. I grew up in Utah, got my B.A. from Rutgers University in New Jersey and my Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, and I've taught at colleges and universities in Kentucky, Ohio, and Texas. I've always been interested in questions of race and gender in my teaching and research, and I'm currently writing a book on literature and the Haitian Revolution. I live in Chico with my husband and two daughters, and, whenever I get the chance, I get outside to run, hike, and backpack. I look forward to working with you all this year!