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.
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.
Dr. George A. Harne joined the faculty in 2008 and was elected President in 2011, after two years of service as Academic Dean. During his tenure, he has taught courses in Music, Latin, and the Philosophy and Humanities sequence.
Dr. Harne’s area of expertise is the history of music, the subject of his graduate studies at the University of Washington and Princeton University. His scholarly interests include the intersection of musical and philosophical thought in the Middle Ages, twentieth-century music, and music in antiquity. He has published scholarly articles on medieval music and popular essays on Catholic education, most recently “Finding God on the Quad: Benedict XVI’s Vision for Catholic Higher Education” in the National Catholic Register. Thanks to a transformative experience studying the great books at St. John’s College, Dr. Harne is also passionate about the tradition of liberal arts education and the importance of music to such an education.
Dr. Harne and his wife Debbie entered the Catholic Church on the Feast of Christ the King in 2006 and have been blessed with five children—four daughters and one son. Their home serves as a regular gathering place for students, especially for meetings of the Confraternity of Saint Joseph and the Sodality of Mary.
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.
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.
Dr. Peter Sampo received his bachelor’s degree in political science at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. His master’s and Ph.D. were obtained at the University of Notre Dame. He has taught at St. Anselm College, where he founded the Department of Political Science; St. Francis College, where he was academic dean; Cardinal Newman College; Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, which he co-founded; and at Magdalen College. He co-founded Magdalen College, where he also served as charter president and faculty member, as an attempt to renew Catholic higher education. There he designed a summer program for high school students that has served as a model for similar programs at other colleges.
Dr. Sampo has published on St. Thomas More and Niccolò Machiavelli. His scholarly interests are religion and politics, international relations, political theory, and liberal education’s continuity and relevance. He is the recipient of many awards, including the Governor’s Council of New Hampshire Award, the New England Board of Higher Education Award, the Russel Kirk Paideia Prize presented by CiRCE, and the Notre Dame Exemplary Alumnus Award. He has given numerous speeches across the country on the topic of Catholic higher education.
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.
Dr. Robert M. Augros received a B.A. from St. Mary’s College in California. He earned a Ph.L. and Ph.D. from Laval University in Quebec, Canada. His doctoral dissertation was titled “Hume and the Existence of Substance.” He has taught courses in Ethics, Humanities, Euclidian Geometry, Scientific World Views and Philosophy of Education. Most recently he taught at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. He has published widely including two books The New Story of Science and The New Biology: Discovering the Wisdom of Nature.
Scott Blackwood, Choir Director
B.A., (cum laude) California State University, San Bernardino (Music Education)
Mr. Scott Blackwood is the Choir Director at Magdalen College of the Liberal arts. He directs the All-School Collegiate Choir, Polyphony Choir and Chant Schola. Under his direction, the choirs sing sacred music that span the ages – including Gregorian chant, Renaissance motets, hymnody and motets written by living composers. Scott received his bachelor’s of Music Education from California State University, San Bernardino.
Dr. Eric M. Buck hails from a farm in Maine and continues to love and practice (in the city of Somerville, MA, with his wife) the self-reliant skills of a farmer.
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 composing a philosophy of history, a theory of religion and the Church, and a commentary on Spinoza’s Ethics.
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).
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.