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CAL Faculty Earn Distinguished Recognitions from ISU

 Photo collage: left, Mark McBeth, right, Cathleen Tarp

Mark McBeth, 2020 ISU Distinguished Researcher, and Cathleen Tarp, 2020 ISU Distinguished Service


Each year, Idaho State University recognizes faculty members for their significant contributions to research, teaching and service. The 2020 awards featured five members of the College of Arts and Letters, including two Distinguished awards and three Outstanding recognitions.

Mark McBeth, professor of Political Science and acting associate dean for Social and Behavioral Sciences, was named Distinguished Researcher. Cathleen Tarp, associate professor in Global Studies and Languages and director of the Master of Arts program in Spanish, was honored for Distinguished Service.

ISU also recognized Theatre & Dance professor Vanessa Ballam and English professor Matthew VanWinkle as Master Teachers. Art professor Jonathan Fardy received an Outstanding Researcher award.


Mark McBeth, 2020 ISU Distinguished Researcher

McBeth joined the Department of Political Science in 1995 after completing his Doctor of Arts at ISU in 1992. His research focuses primarily on public policy theory, environmental policy and public policy in rural areas.   

McBeth is the co-originator of the Narrative Policy Framework (NPF), which is widely used in political science and public policy. The framework is informed by many theories from a myriad of disciplines, and NPF work is regularly cited in a variety of disciplines including political science, public administration, public policy, sociology and geography.

“Dr. McBeth is a rockstar for political science, and his passion is contagious in the classroom and as an administrator,” said graduating MPA student Angie Dangerfield in a video celebrating his award (below). “He pushes his students in such a positive way, that they just want to keep doing more and learning more.”



Cathleen Tarp, 2020 ISU Distinguished Service

Tarp is an associate professor in the Department of Global Studies and Languages, where she teaches medieval and golden age peninsular literature and interpretation and translation for health and judicial professions. She also teaches in the physician assistant program. 

Tarp’s current research focus is on identifying a problem, such as low health literacy, that creates disparity, and working with an interdisciplinary team and community stakeholders to design a tailored yet replicable response to the issue. She and co-PIs recently received a $140,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration for a project aimed at increasing the recruitment and retention of physician assistant students who intend to work and live in rural areas after PA school.

Tarp initiated the baccalaureate program in Spanish for health professions in 2014, the graduate certificate in Spanish for health professions in 2015, the Spanish for health professions promotora training program in 2018 and is currently director of the Master of Arts program in Spanish.

“Dr. Tarp’s service truly spans the gamut, from program creation, to student and faculty advising and mentoring, to impactful community service,” said Spanish professor Carmen Febles in a video celebrating Tarp’s award (below). “Through those efforts, she has created countless opportunities for students and faculty alike and touched more lives than we will ever know.”



Vanessa Ballam, 2020 ISU Master Teacher

Ballam, who earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from Indiana University, is an associate professor and head of acting in the Department of Theatre and Dance. Ballam created and currently oversees the performance curriculum in theatre at ISU, teaches all levels of acting within the department and directs mainstage productions each academic year.

Ballam also works consistently as an actor and director at regional theatres around the country. She is education director for Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, director of membership for StateraArts, founding director for the Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards, Eastern Respondent Coordinator Region VII – Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.

“I’m very humbled by this recognition,” Ballam said. “These unusual past weeks have really affirmed why I chose this profession. It’s the students. They are what inspire me to do my job, and make me want to be better every day. Being in the room making art together is a really powerful thing.”


Matthew VanWinkle, 2020 ISU Master Teacher

VanWinkle has taught in the Department of English and Philosophy since 2012 after previous appointments at Boston University and Ohio University. He teaches a range of classes, from introductory composition courses to graduate seminars in his research area: nineteenth century British literature.

In the classroom, VanWinkle strives to remind students of literacies that they already have — self-generated narratives of personal experience, responses to movies and television — and encourages them to extend these ways of thinking to forms of creative expression less familiar to them.

“I'm grateful for the generous estimation of my colleagues and my students,” VanWinkle said. “I also feel fortunate to have found a home — most immediately my department, but ultimately ISU as a whole — that makes a point of valuing teaching as highly as it does.”


Jonathan Fardy, 2020 ISU Outstanding Researcher

Fardy received his doctorate from the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism at the University of Western Ontario. He joined the Department of Art in 2017. 

His research investigates how specific modes of writing and other aesthetic strategies underwrite the constitution and argumentative structure of theories of art and politics from the 1960s to the present. His recent work has been particularly focused on the work of François Laruelle.

Fardy is the author of three books: “Laruelle and Art: The Aesthetics of Non-Philosophy,” “Laruelle and Non-Photography” and “Althusser and Art.” His current book project, “The Real is Radical: Marx after Laruelle,” is under contract and due to be published in 2021.

Fardy has also published articles in a number of journals, including Philosophy of Photography, The International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Postcolonial Text, and most recently in Postmodern Culture. Fardy has presented his research at a number of venues, including the University Art Association of Canada and the University of Oxford.

“Jonathan truly deserves this recognition from the university,” said Dean Kandi Turley-Ames. “We are lucky to have his research abilities in the college!”