Independent Learning: Instructors

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Professor working remotely via laptop

Independent Learning instructors are highly qualified course designers and facilitators who hold advanced degrees.


Joan A Bell-Kaul portrait


PhD, English literature, composition, & linguistics with an Intellectual History minor, U.W. Milwaukee

I grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm near Fremont surrounded by Alder Creek, Lake Poygan, and the Wolf River. The U.W. Milwaukee is located in a very urban setting, which was a real contrast to the more rural environment that I prefer. But that was also “a learning experience”! Always “in love with” reading and writing,” I knew from the age of six that teaching English subjects was “my calling.” I enjoy communicating with students from Wisconsin and all over the world–and learning with them, which is why I like working with Independent Learning students.

JAC DOXSEE BULK (Social Sciences)

B.S. Cornell University, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison

I grew up in West Babylon, Long Island, New York and my name, which has Dutch and English origins, reflects the diversity of the region. My favorite hobbies are bird watching, road running [I have run 60,000 road miles so far], and beer tasting.

I love doing research on racial and ethnic groups spanning the history of the United States; I love diversity. As an Independent Learning Instructor, I enjoy writing my comments on the essays submitted to me by my students as they learn about the amazingly diverse and inspiring history of racial and ethnic groups within the fabric of American society today.  My students always comment how much they enjoyed taking my 225 Racial and Ethnic Minorities course.

Marisa Carpenter portrait

Marisa J. Carpenter (Spanish)

PhD, Hispanic Philology/Linguistics, University of Wisconsin-Madison
MA, Applied Spanish Linguistics, Michigan State University

I was fortunate to grow up in the wonderfully diverse city of Ypsilanti, MI, with parents who taught us all about the US and other countries through travel. I continue to enjoy traveling and spending time outdoors–especially near water–with my husband and two young children.

I majored in Spanish in undergrad at Michigan State University, and continued on there to get my master’s in Applied Spanish Linguistics, then I transferred to UW-Madison to get my PhD in Hispanic Linguistics, focusing on the development of Latin American varieties of Spanish and minoring in Second Language Acquisition.

I love to learn about how people produce language, especially when they speak more than one! I also love so many things about the cultures of Spanish-speaking peoples, especially the music and dances!

I enjoy working with Independent Learning students because it provides me an opportunity to share about the benefits and joys of learning Spanish with people who might not have otherwise thought it possible to take language courses in their various life circumstances.



PhD, Modern Latin American Literature, Minor in Portuguese Literature, UW–Madison

I was born and raised in Havana, Cuba.I have a Philology Degree from the Universidad de La Habana- I “discovered” Latin America there. I like languages and their related cultures. Particularly the “Latino universe”.I enjoy listening to music- all kinds of good music- reading and watching movies. More recently, I’ve developed a passion for the English Language and Culture – especially those of the USA. I enjoy working one-on -one with students and especially with motivated students who decide to learn by themselves- with a little help.

Photo of Jeanne Connors


PhD, Cultural Anthropology; Minor: Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education; Specialization: Medical/Psychological Anthropology, UW–Madison

I grew up in a small farming community in southwest Wisconsin, married, and had three children–two daughters and a son. After becoming a single mother, I worked full-time while attending the University. I chose anthropology and the field of Native Americans because I was always interested in their cultures. Eventually I won grants to conduct fieldwork with the Navajo Indians of Arizona on their perceptions of autism and mental retardation. Since obtaining my PhD, I’ve worked on several Indian reservations as a consultant on alcohol and drug prevention and dysfunctional families. I enjoy teaching with the Independent Learning Program after retiring from active fieldwork as it keeps me in touch with students both statewide and nationally, as well as international students.

IRENA B FRACZEK (Geography, Physical Sciences)

Bio forthcoming.

Photo of Rich Freese


DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts), Composition, UW–Madison

I was born in Tucson, Arizona and I’ve lived most of my life in the Midwest United States. As an undergraduate, I double-majored in music and art (with a Bachelor of Science) at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, WI, and I studied at Truman State University in Kirksville, MO for my MA in Music. When I’m not teaching or working with music, I like reading, video games, and spending time with family.

I enjoy discovering new music, hearing new musicians and finding new ways to think about or approach music. I especially love creating music – it’s like painting with math or constructing a LEGO set of melodies and chords. When teaching Independent Learning students, I get to share ways to encounter new music and different ways to absorb it. I’m excited that, as an IL music instructor, I have opportunities to explore so many kinds of music with students of varied backgrounds and musical interests.

JESSE GANT (History)

Bio forthcoming.

Photo of Sage Goellner


PhD, French, UW–Madison

I grew up in northern Wisconsin where the only languages offered were German and Spanish, but French was my first love, so I took Independent Learning French courses during high school. I majored in French and English literature as an undergraduate, then studied in various French programs in Paris, Avignon, and Montreal. French is a language spoken on all five continents, and I have enjoyed traveling in France and other French-speaking countries and regions (Canada, France, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Morocco, Switzerland). I’m really gratified to work with Independent Learning students because I was one of you! In addition to high school French, as I was finishing my undergraduate studies, I took three Independent Learning classes to complete my degrees in French and English. I enjoyed their rigor and richness, as well as the personal contact with the professors.



PhD, Latin & Greek, UW–Madison

I am a native of Long Beach, California. After earning my graduate degree with a major in philosophy at the College of Our Lady, Washington, DC, I went on to complete my MA in Classics (Latin and Greek) at Tulane University and my PhD in Classics (Latin and Greek) at UW–Madison. In addition to my work with the Division of Continuing Studies, I have worked as a research specialist focusing on the Latin writings of South Slavic humanists and as a research scientist for the Dictionary of American Regional English, a special project attached to the UW English Department. I very much enjoy working with IL students, helping them to achieve their academic goals.



PhD, German, UW–Madison

I grew up in northern Minnesota, where I developed an appreciation for water, Boundary Waters camping, and different cultures. I majored in German and American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota in Duluth before beginning graduate work at UW–Madison. Learning a language is the first step toward understanding a different culture and a new way to see the world, and I enjoy sharing the experience of learning about a new culture through the German language with students. Working with IL students offers me the opportunity to get to know each student as a whole individual, and to work with them toward their individual learning goals.

Photo of Sandra Loman


M.A., History, University of Colorado- Boulder

Although I grew up in California and Colorado, I have lived in Wisconsin since 1971; I guess that means I am a combination of a Golden Bear, a Buffalo and a Badger. I am a retired history Professor (Madison College) and I spend my time as a docent (guide) at the Chazen Museum of Art, taking art history classes, traveling in Europe, and engaging with my primary hobby: photography. I majored in history at Whittier College (California) with a minor in French. As a graduate student I continued with a major in European history and a minor in political science. I love the study of history because it helps me satisfy my curiosity about so many different aspects of human endeavor and the human condition. Many of my Independent Learning students major in fields outside the humanities, and studying history introduces them to a new way of seeing and thinking about information, events and people.

ANDREW N MANGHAM (Natural Sciences)

Bio forthcoming.

Photo of Jacqueline Mauer


MA, Professional French, UW–Madison

In 2004, I earned a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire in language teaching, and have since taught both English as a Second Language and French in a variety of contexts. I also hold a Master’s degree in Professional French (concentration: International Development) from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. While I have strong ties to my native Wisconsin, I have lived and worked in France, Sweden, Haiti, Quebec, and Guatemala studying and creating educational programming in marginalized communities. Language learning has opened doors for me personally and professionally, and I am incredibly passionate about helping others access those doors. No matter what your motivation for selecting this course, I am excited to work with you and support you!


Bio forthcoming.

Photo: Alan Ng, Director of Outreach Technology and Faculty Associate, Administration/Humanities


PhD, German (GDR poetry, cultural history), UW–Madison

I am a 4-season bike commuter, higher education IT director, and a professional Irish traditional musician. I earned my undergraduate degree in Physics, German, and music composition at UC-Berkeley, before continuing my graduate studies in German at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where I had the opportunity to learn and teach Dutch. German is a very satisfying language for clearly communicating abstract and complex concepts. The fact that I have learned so much and so deeply about its associated cultures and histories means it will always feel like a home. I enjoy empowering researchers with the ability to independently mine the wealth hidden in German-language texts in all fields.


Photo of Mark Quigley


PhD Physics, Catholic University, Washington, DC

I grew up in Michigan, worked construction and as a laborer on an oil exploration crew and decided that was too much work so I went to graduate school. I was mistaken that it would be easier. I worked on my dissertation at NASA Goddard Space Flight, where I got to know a few astronauts. I worked for the astronomy department at UW for a while, and spent three years doing MRI research for the Department of Medical Physics. I started working with the IL program during that time, which I continued while doing fusion research for the Naval Research Lab in Washington. Currently, I do a lot of work in treatment of hydrocephalus and various brain cancers and some rare birth defects with Children’s National Medical Center in Washington. Without question, the part of teaching I’ve found most rewarding is working with incarcerated students. It was my job to help them with their classes the best I could but I’ve heard from parents and students that the nonjudgmental relation I had with them while incarcerated was a major factor in their being able to become a part of society again upon their release.

Photo of Jackie Splitter


PhD, Counseling Psychology, Washington State University, Pullman

Prior to earning my PhD in 1976, I earned bachelor of science in biology and a master of education degrees from Kansas State university. I grew up in Kansas City Kansas. Since I lived in a city I loved getting out into the mountains and countryside when I lived in Washington state. I have also lived in Washington DC and San Antonio Texas. In San Antonio I worked with minority students in a special high school and decided I wanted to do something to help students learn life skills It was from this experience that I decided to go to graduate school in psychology. Upon getting my PhD I moved to Madison and took a job in the clinical psychology program at the university of Wisconsin clinical psychology department where I was in charge of the training clinic for graduate students. Currently I have a psychology practice in Madison. What I most enjoy about my work and the field of psychology is helping people to learn about themselves and how to use those skills for a happier more productive life.

Portrait of David Werther


PhD, philosophy, UW–Madison

I am an aspiring fly fisherman and am overjoyed anytime I catch a Black-Earth-Creek brown trout. My interests are in the intersection of philosophy and theology and I have graduate degrees in both disciplines. I am co-editor, with Mark Linville of Philosophy and the Christian Worldview: Analysis, Assessment and Development (Bloomsbury, 2012) and with Susan Werther of C.S. Lewis’s List The Ten Books that Influenced Him Most (Bloomsbury, 2015). Philosophy has taught me the importance of identifying and evaluating presuppositions. Many students take a single course in Philosophy to fulfill a general-education requirement. I enjoy introducing students to Philosophy and helping them develop and hone their skills in critical thinking.

Photo of Janet Wood


MA-Italian Language & Literature, University of Wisconsin-Madison

I’m from Wisconsin and have a deep appreciation for the natural world around me and love to explore it on foot, bike, skis or in a canoe, often with a camera in hand. I majored in Italian and Spanish at UW–Madison, after spending a year abroad in Bologna, Italy. My Master’s Degree is also from UW–Madison where I was awarded a teaching assistantship. Since then, I have returned to Italy on many occasions for travel and further study in Perugia, Rome and Reggio-Emilia. I enjoy the arts, literature, opera, fine dining and good wine, especially when served at hillside cafés overlooking the Mediterranean – Italy has it all! Learning another language is a window into another culture which can broaden your world and lead to greater understanding of others. I hope to bring this experience to my students.