May 5, 2022
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Four Beloved Faculty Members Announce their Retirements
Montgomery, Ala.—With the close of the 2021–2022 academic year, Huntingdon College will say farewell to four long-time, well-respected, and beloved members of the faculty:
- Dr. Jimmy Jeffcoat, Professor of Religion
- Dr. Jeremy R.T. Lewis, Professor of Political Science
- Mr. Christopher Payne, Professor of Art
- Ms. Nordis Smith, Professor; Reference, Instruction, and Interlibrary Loans Librarian
“The combined contributions of these four faculty members to the life of Huntingdon College and to the thousands of students they have taught and mentored are immeasurable,” said Huntingdon President J. Cameron West. “We are grateful for their long service both in their professional fields and for the College. Their influence will live on in the lives of their students.”
Dr. James R. (Jimmy) Jeffcoat earned his Bachelor of Arts in history and English from the University of Alabama; Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in religion from Asbury Theological Seminary; Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy from Drew University; and Minister of Christian Education certification from the Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church. Post-graduate study has taken him to Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Methodist Theological School of Ohio, and United Theological Seminary, in addition to Asbury. Dr. Jeffcoat joined the Huntingdon faculty and staff as chaplain and assistant professor of religion and philosophy from 1994 to 1998. He had previously served as associate pastor for First United Methodist Church in Opp, Alabama, and as pastor of Fairview and Crawford United Methodist Churches, in addition to serving as campus minister for the Wesley Foundation at Troy State University. He moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to serve as minister of historical theology and Wesley studies, director of the Lay Academy, and supervisor of college and youth ministries for First UMC in Tulsa. He subsequently taught for Oral Roberts University and for Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa before returning to Huntingdon in 2006 as Chapman-Benson Chair of Faith and Philosophy and director of the Bishop Paul A. Duffey Institute of Church Leadership, a position he held for four years. Since 2010 he has served as a professor of religion at Huntingdon.
A native of England, Dr. Jeremy R.T. Lewis earned his Master of Arts in philosophy, politics, and economics at Keble College, the University of Oxford; and Master of Arts and Ph.D. in American government and international relations at Johns Hopkins University. He joined the Huntingdon faculty in 1996 after teaching for the University of Northern Iowa. His teaching excellence earned recognition with the College’s Chappell Award in 2008 as well the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Exemplary Teacher Award in 2006. Dr. Lewis has been deeply involved with the Alabama World Affairs Council and the World Affairs Councils of America, among many organizations. He has published and presented extensively for national and world conferences on subjects such as freedom of information; espionage; cybersecurity; digitalization of governance; government transparency; and e-governance, among many other topics. He has served as a media commentator; has facilitated numerous field trips and travel-study experiences; has shepherded students to conferences and seminars; and has advised student clubs and organizations from College Democrats to the Sailing Club.
Christopher Payne has been a member of the Huntingdon faculty since 1986. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Auburn University, majoring in painting, and his Master of Fine Arts at Wichita State University, majoring in sculpture. Mr. Payne has exhibited his work widely and has won numerous awards for his drawings, paintings, and sculptures. He has served as a visiting artist for elementary schools in Chilton County and for Forest Avenue Elementary, the Montgomery Academy, Halcyon Elementary, Keystone Learning Center, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery Public Schools, Carver Creative and Performing Arts Center, Montgomery Public Library System, and the Montgomery Art Guild, among other organizations in Montgomery. He has also served as judge/juror for numerous exhibitions over a career that has spanned six decades. His work is held in public collections in Montgomery; Meridian, Mississippi; Wichita, Kansas; and Detroit, Michigan. Prior to joining the Huntingdon College faculty he served as a teaching assistant at Wichita State University and as an adjunct professor for Indiana University/Purdue University’s Herron School of Art. He has also served as an art correspondent for the Montgomery Advertiser.
Nordis Smith came to Huntingdon in 1988 as a paraprofessional and has served as a librarian in reference, instruction, and interlibrary loans since 1989. She earned her Bachelor of Science in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1971 and a master’s degree in library science from UWM in 1973. Prior to joining the Huntingdon faculty and staff, she served as a librarian and as director of the library for Eureka College in Illinois and in public libraries in Libertyville, Illinois, and Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Ms. Smith is a member of the Montgomery and Alabama Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, serving as treasurer for Montgomery BPW, and serves as state chair of the Alabama Library/School Reading Initiative for BPW. Since March 2017 she has served on the Board of Mental Health of America in Montgomery. For the past four years, she has served on the planning committee for the Montgomery Higher Education Consortium.
Huntingdon College is a coeducational residential liberal arts college of the United Methodist Church offering more than thirty undergraduate programs of study and 21 NCAA-Division III athletic teams. Huntingdon recently added a Master of Athletic Training program, the College’s first graduate program since its founding in 1854.