The relation between student and teacher is at the very heart of the life of Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts. Students join the community of scholars who have given their lives to the joyful pursuit of wisdom through study and the deep encounter with both the permanent and contingent things that constitute our experience of reality. Together they read texts, contemplate beauty, and simply enjoy the blessings discovered through the serious but joyful adventure of liberal education.
Ryan Messmore, President
D.Phil., Oxford University (Political Theology)
M.Phil., Cambridge University (Theology)
M.T.S. Duke Divinity School (Christian Ethics)
A.B., Duke University (Public Policy and Religion)
Dr. Ryan Messmore serves as the fifth President of Magdalen College. He received his bachelor’s degree in public policy and religion from Duke University, master’s degrees in theology and Christian ethics from Duke Divinity School and Cambridge University, and his doctorate in political theology from Oxford University.
He is also the author of In Love: The Larger Story of Sex and Marriage, which was published in 2017. His commentary and analysis have appeared in venues such as The Washington Times, First Things, Touchstone Magazine, and The Australian. In 2012 he delivered the prestigious Acton Lecture in Sydney on Religious Freedom.
Messmore has served as President of Campion College (a Catholic liberal arts college in Sydney, Australia), Founding Executive Director of The Millis Institute at Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, and William E. Simon Fellow at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC. Most recently, he oversaw the academic program at St. David’s School in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Renaissance Literature)
M.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
B.A., Princeton University
Dr. Esolen received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. His master’s degree and Ph.D. in Renaissance literature are from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dr. Esolen has translated Dante’s Divine Comedy, Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things, and Torquato Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered. His books, on such topics as culture, beauty and literature, include Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church and Nostalgia: Going Home in a Homeless World. His articles regularly appear in such journals and online magazines as Magnificat, Crisis Magazine, Touchstone and First Things.
Brian FitzGerald, Academic Dean
D.Phil., Oxford University (History)
M.St., Oxford University (Medieval Studies)
M.A., Fordham University (History)
B.A., Princeton University (Religious Studies)
After receiving his D.Phil. in History from Oxford University in 2013, Dr. FitzGerald came to Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts to teach Humanities and Latin. From 2016-2017, he taught in Harvard’s History and Literature Program before returning to the college to teach and serve as Academic Dean in 2017.
A scholar of medieval history, Dr. FitzGerald’s research focuses on the intellectual and religious culture of Europe from the twelfth to the fourteenth century. His first book, Inspiration and Authority in the Middle Ages: Prophets and Their Critics from Scholasticism to Humanism examines how medieval intellectuals in France, England, and Italy sought to understand and resolve competing claims of divine inspiration. His other research interests include medieval historical consciousness, medieval literary theory, interactions between eastern and western Christianity, and Renaissance humanism.
After studying the great books as an undergraduate and earning a graduate degree at Boston College, John Klucinec returned to his alma mater and assisted in the development of the College’s courses in physics and astronomy. He has spent over twenty years teaching courses in the sciences, mathematics, non-western studies, and the Philosophy and Humanities sequence. He currently resides in Warner, New Hampshire with his wife Joan and their seven children.
Mr. Klucinec began his career by teaching in conjunction with founding academic dean George Stanciu. After Dr. Stanciu’s departure, he assumed full responsibility for the Geometry and Science sequence. In this sequence, Mr. Klucinec introduces students to the sciences in the spirit of the liberal arts, with an especially strong commitment to the Socratic method.
Dr. Mary Mumbach serves on the faculty of Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts as Professor of Literature, teaching courses such as Southern Literature, the Russian Novel, and Literary Criticism. She is also the Director of the Collegiate Summer Program.
Dr. Mumbach discovered her passion for literature and liberal education at the University of Dallas, where she took all her degrees, under the mentorship of Dr. Louise Cowan. In order to continue the tradition of liberal education for undergraduates, she co-founded the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, where she served as dean and Professor of Literature for thirty years. She was a designer of the former academic program there, initiated the Rome semester program, and designed the Collegiate Summer Program for High School Students. Dr. Mumbach subsequently co-founded The Erasmus Institute of Liberal Arts and served as dean and Professor of Literature there until it became part of Magdalen College.
During various summers, Dr. Mumbach has been a seminar leader at the Principals Institute and the Teachers Institute at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. She has served on the Board of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and as a first-tier judge in the Hiett Prize competition. Dr. Mumbach has published essays on medieval romance, Shakespeare, Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and education. She served as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Invitation to the Classics. In 2011, the CiRCE Institute awarded her the Russell Kirk Paideia Prize for a Lifetime of Cultivating Virtue.
Erik van Versendaal
Ph.D., Pontifical John Paul II Institute at the Catholic University of America (Theology)
M.A., Villanova University (Theology)
B.A., Boston College (Philosophy and English)
Dr. van Versendaal received his bachelor’s from Boston College in philosophy and English, his master’s degree from Villanova University in theology, and his Ph.D. in theology from the John Paul II Institute in Washington, D.C. Most recently, Dr. van Versendaal has published “Reason for Being: Festivity, Perfection, and the Very Good,” “A Gift for Doing Nothing: Ordering Play, Liberating Work,” and “The Symbolism of Love: Use as Praise in St. Augustine’s Doctrine of Creation.”
Ph.D., (magna cum laude) Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen (History and Literature of Ancient Christianity)
M.A., California State University, Long Beach (Religious Studies)
B.A., Baptist Bible College West (Biblical Studies)
Dr. Almanzar received his master’s degree from California State University at Long Beach and his Ph.D. in History and Literature of Ancient Christianity is from the Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen, Germany. Dr. Almanzar has published He Whom a Dream Hath Possessed: The Life and Works of the American John Knox, “When Evening is Dawn: A Meditation for Advent,” “Codex Z in Galatians,” and “The Challenge of Marcion.”
Ph.D., M.A., University of Kentucky (Philosophy)
M.A. Goddard College (Social Philosophy)
B.A., Houghton College (Religion)
Dr. Eric M. Buck hails from a farm in Maine and loves New England above all other places on God’s green earth.
As a philosopher, prior to becoming Catholic, he took a tour of radical political philosophy, became a devotee of Benedict Spinoza and phenomenology, for a dissertation wrote a theory of architectural wholeness, and finally embraced Catholicism as his faith and as the basis for his intellectual work.
As a teacher he has specialized in phenomenology, Asian philosophy and world religions, the history of western civilization, and in close readings of the world’s speculative and religious literatures. He is presently working on a philosophy of the will.
Prior to joining Magdalen, he taught in many schools of all types. Between 2010 and 2015 he founded and ran a minimalist college on a shoestring budget for five years in and around Boston.
In addition to teaching part-time at Magdalen, Dr. Buck is a utility administrator. He served as interim president of Magdalen College for the academic term 2020-2021.
Mr. Karl Cooper received a B.A. in History from Tufts University summa cum laude, after having been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year. Receiving a Danforth Fellowship upon graduation from Tufts, he earned an M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, a Th.M. in New Testament and Early Christianity from Harvard Divinity School, and an M.A. in Mathematics from Rhode Island College. He has published scholarly articles in the Westminster Theological Journal (“The Best Wine: John 2:1-11” in 1979 and “Paul and Rabbinic Soteriology” in 1982).
M.S.B.A., The Catholic University of America
B.A., Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts (Literature)
Mr. Smith is a graduate of Magdalen College and is well-equipped to continue the beautiful sacred music traditions at the college. His musical background includes providing music for liturgies at parishes in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maryland. In addition to directing polyphonic choirs and chant scholas, Mr. Smith is also an excellent organist.
Jonathan Watson comes to Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts with twenty years of teaching experience (both in the United States and abroad) in the areas of theology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and the Great Books. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Wheaton College in Illinois and a master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, and he teaches theology partly since, as the Queen of Sciences, it gives him an excuse to study everything else, too. His particular research interests include–but are not limited to–the doctrine of creation, virtue ethics, and political science.
Jonathan lives in Laconia, NH, where he cantors and sings in the choir of St André Bessette Parish.
A Catholic artist and mother of five, Keri received her BFA from Parsons School of Design in New York City and later pursued Christian Russian-Byzantine iconography, studying under the late renowned Russian iconographer Ksenia Pokrovsky. Her icons, created through Iconeye Studio, have been exhibited in galleries, churches, and museums throughout New England and in private collections internationally. Keri has also held a career for over twenty years in both non-profit and for-profit arts administration which includes serving as the Executive Director of the Sharon Arts Center of Peterborough and Sharon, NH, a senior manager of the New Hampshire Institute of Art, founder and CEO of Creative Hands Art Studio and Atelier Gallery in Madison, NJ, and co-founder of The Starving Artist in Keene, NH. Keri is currently director of OQ Farm: A Creative Sanctuary — a new initiative to bring a Christian arts colony into existence that centers around supporting the artist through both creative and spiritual renewal on a 500-acre farm in Bridgewater, Vermont, and is also working with master iconographer George Kordis on the new International Centre of Contemporary Iconography in Athens, Greece. She is enthusiastic about helping to equip and support the next generation of Catholic artists in order to build towards a renaissance of beauty through the arts and the on-going transformation of culture.
Mrs. Katherine Yost is an accomplished singer and artist, who brings her extensive expertise in those fields to the College’s Music and Art sequence. After studying Music and Literature at Duke University, Mrs. Yost went on to various activities in the arts, serving as Organist, Choir Director, and soloist at churches in Texas and Massachusetts. She has also taught courses in the visual arts and in Sacred Music in Texas and in New England.