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Honors Program Staff

The Honors Program staff is here to assist both students and the public. We look forward to hearing from you!

Phil FranaInterim Director

Philip Frana, Ph.D.
Contact Info

Dr. Frana is Interim Director of the JMU Honors Program and Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies. He oversees daily operations and leads in program planning and development. He initiates additional programs where appropriate, coordinates existing Honors programs and supervises the Honors students' participation in these programs. He is responsible for recruiting and counseling Honors students and developing and evaluating the Honors curriculum. Additional areas of responsibility include Honors admissions, assessment, faculty liaisons, Honors senior projects, social media and marketing. The Interim Director reports directly to the Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

Dr. Frana's primary domains for teaching and research are science and technology studies, oral history, intellectual history, and technology in education. His publications are mainly in the history of medicine and public health, the history of computing, the history of expertise and the professions, and Honors education. He is currently working on a book manuscript documenting the history of health informatics called "Calculating Care: Evidence, Computers, and Medicine in the 20th Century." He has taught seminars on the Search for Self, the Search for Community, the Artificial Other (robotics, artificial intelligence, and society), Art & Technology, Oral History, Documentary Filmmaking, and the Study of Memory, the History of the Life Sciences, History of Medicine, History of Science, History of Engineering, Technology and the Law, Virtual Worlds and Online Communities, and Senior Seminars on Economic Globalization, Transhumanism, and Futuristics. He has also taught courses on research and writing across the disciplines.

Dr. Frana is past Director of Undergraduate Research in the Honors College at the University of Central Arkansas, and an NSF Project Director at the University of Minnesota’s Charles Babbage Institute. He graduated with his bachelor's degrees in History and Economics from Wartburg College in 1991, and completed his master's and doctoral degrees in the History of Technology and Science at Iowa State University in 1999. 

Melinda AdamsAssistant Director & Prestigious Scholarships Coordinator

Melinda Adams, Ph.D.
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Dr. Adams is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and has worked as a freshman advisor and is also an advisor to students interested in studying in Africa, which is her area of research specialization. She also comes with experience as a grants reviewer for the Department of Education and as a recipient of numerous nationally prestigious scholarships including the Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS), a dissertation fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), a Global Studies Fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation, as well as many other awards. She will help identify and mentor top students on our campus so that they will become successful applicants for nationally competitive awards such as the Fulbright, Rhodes, Goldwater, Marshall and Truman.

Jared DienerAcademic Advisor

Jared Diener, M.St.
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Jared Diener provides academic advising services for current and prospective Honors students at JMU. He works closely with current students to develop an Honors curriculum that fits each student's academic and career goals and serves as the primary contact for all Honors-related questions and concerns and as an additional resource for other academic and university matters. Additional areas of responsibility include Honors admissions, social media and web programming, and coordinating the Summer Honors Institute. Prior to joining the Honors Program in January 2013, he served for five years as Program Coordinator for the Department of Religious Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. He holds a M.St. in Modern History from Oxford University and an undergraduate degree in History from The University of Texas at Austin.

Executive Secretary

Karen Allison
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Karen Allison provides support for the Honors Program by disseminating program information, maintaining and updating student records, typing and editing office correspondence, documents, requisitions and associated financial management forms, scheduling appointments and programs, supervising student assistants, and various other duties.

Selena CowgerAdministrative Assistant

Selena Cowger
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Selena Cowger provides support for the Honors Program by disseminating program information, maintaining and updating student records, typing and editing office correspondence, documents, scheduling appointments and programs, and various other duties.