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American Studies for Educators



Associate Professor of Education, Adult Degree Program; BA, James Madison University; MEd, PhD, University of Virginia


James Harrington

Dr. James Harrington came to Mary Baldwin College in 1983 and served as director of the Adult Degree Program from then until 1992. Since joining the education faculty, Dr. Harrington has taught in the Residential College for Women, the Adult Degree Program, the Post Baccalaureate Teacher Licensure Program, and the Master of Arts in Teaching Program. His academic specialties include governance and public policy in education and he teaches Foundations in Education, Literature for Children and Adolescents, Meaning and Purpose in Teaching and Learning, and Public Policy in Education. During his sabbatical in the spring semester of 2008, Harrington will serve as Scholar in Residence in the Virginia General Assembly, working with the Education Committee of the House of Delegates to observe the legislative process first hand.

Dr. Harrington served for nine years on the Staunton City School Board, including three different terms as its chairman. Dr. Harrington believes, “it is vitally important that teacher preparation programs be closely aligned with the needs and aims of the school divisions in which our graduates will teach. It is a single privilege to be associated with the preparation of so many fine individuals who will become tomorrow’s teachers in our community and throughout the Commonwealth.”


James McCrory

I graduated from the University of Virginia in 1972 with a BA in psychology, then remained in Charlottesville for the next eight years to earn an MEd to teach in the public schools for four years, and to earn an EdD in 1980. Following five years working as an assistant professor of education at Birmingham-Southern College, I moved back to Virginia to begin teaching at Mary Baldwin College. Along the way, my wife and I have been raising four children.

My greatest joy at MBC is teaching. Though I am full time in the Residential College for Women, I have been fortunate enough to also teach students in the Adult Degree Program and Master of Arts in Teaching Program. Professional activities through the years have included serving as president of two state level associations, one of which was the Virginia Association of College and Universities with Teacher Education. I was one of four authors of the position statement of the American Association of College and Universities with Teacher Education.

I have written papers and made presentations at national conferences, but my highest professional joy has been in the college classroom with MBC students as well as getting into elementary school classrooms to observe MBC students successfully teaching.


Catharine O’Connell holds three degrees in American Studies, her BA from Amherst College and her MA and PhD in American Culture from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. At Mary Baldwin College she serves as Professor of English, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dean of the College. Her area of academic specialization is nineteenth- century American literature, with a focus on women’s fiction and the literature of American slavery. She has published on Harriet Beecher Stowe, Herman Melville, and Mark Twain, among others. She has also written on the pedagogy of civic engagement and community-based learning. She teaches the Introduction to American Studies course.


Molly Petty, assistant professor of English, directs the MBC Writing Center and teaches composition, short stories, literature for children and youth, and contemporary women writers. She has an abiding interest in coming-of-age fiction, translated works for children, and folk tales. In addition to teaching class, advising freshmen, working with students who tutor in the Writing Center, and helping out with Miscellany, she enjoys reading her students’ fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults.



  • 1Potter403BA College of William and Mary (history and fine arts)
  • MA University of Virginia (architectural history, preservation)
  • PhD Auburn University (history)

Edmund (Rick) Potter is an assistant professor of history for Mary Baldwin College. He teaches both for the Residential College and the Adult Degree Program. Dr. Potter’s areas of scholarly interest include the history of technology, architectural history, modern Europe, and America post 1865. His dissertation examined the role of World War I in shaping the social use of architecture in inter-war Birmingham, England. He is a member of the American Historical Association, the Society of the History of Technology, the Society of Architectural Historians, and Phi Alpha Theta. Dr. Potter began his career in preservation in 1983 with the restoration of the Lobby of the Joseph Nichols Tavern, built in 1815. Since then, he has worked for the Lynchburg Museum System, Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, the National Park Service, and served for seven years as the Curator of Collections at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library. He has organized and participated in numerous restoration projects and co-written two National Register nominations.


Amy Tilllerson

  • BA Virginia Tech (English)
  • MA Virginia Tech (student personnel services/counseling)
  • PhD Morgan State University (history)

Amy Tillerson is a native of Prince Edward County. For her dissertation, Tillerson-Brown researched the activism of Black women in Prince Edward County, Virginia between 1930 and 1965. Prince Edward County is most well known for the school crisis that closed public schools for five years. Before accepting her position at Mary Baldwin College, she was director of African American Heritage Program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities at UVA. She has taught in the history departments at University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Morgan State, and Piedmont Virginia Community College. She has also been a public school teacher and counselor in Roanoke City Public Schools and Baltimore City Public Schools. She is the advisor to Phi Alpha Theta, the history honor society.


Laura van Assdendelft

Professor of political science Laura van Assendelft has been teaching at Mary Baldwin College since 1994. Currently serving as chair of the political science department, van Assendelft teaches American Government, State and Local Politics, U.S. Congress, U.S. Presidency, Women and Politics, Political Parties and Interest Groups, Political Behavior, and Senior Seminar in American Politics. Her research interests include state and local politics and women and politics. She has published numerous journal articles and several books, including Governors, Agenda Setting, and Divided Government,The Encyclopedia of Women in American Politics (co-edited with Jeffrey Shultz), and two editions of Women, Politics, and American Society (co-authored with Nancy McGlen, Karen O’Connor, and Wendy Gunther-Canada). She received her BA in political science (cum laude with honors in political science) from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee (1989) and her PhD in political science from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia (1994). She was recognized by Who’s Who Among American Teachers in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Outside of teaching and research, her interests include spending time with family, running, hiking, horseback riding, reading, and photography.