Fisk University Welcomes New Faculty Members and Academic Administrators

Fisk University welcomes eleven new faculty and academic administrators in the fall of 2019.  These new employees bring with them fresh viewpoints and expertise in a variety of fields ranging from Bioinformatics to the Physical Sciences.  More importantly, each of these scholars attained their educational training at institutions ranked among the nation’s best.  Listed below are brief biographies for each of the new faculty and administrators.


burton, catherine headshot 2019Dr. Catherine Burton serves as Associate Professor of Criminology and Homeland Security. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Louisiana State University and an MCJ in Criminal Justice from the University of South Carolina.  She was previously employed by Anderson University and the Citadel, where she served as the undergraduate coordinator for the School of Public Service and Professional Internship Coordinator in the Department of Criminal Justice and Political Science.  Her research interests include: “Mass Shooters” and “Multiple Victim Incidents.” 

 Noteworthy:  Dr. Burton has been recognized by the Bureau of Justice and the Mellon Foundation for her work.

johansen,john headshot 2019 Dr. John Johansen serves as Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology.  He holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Biology from Tennessee Technical University.  He previously served as an instructor in the Department of Biology at Austin Peay University.  Dr. Johansen’s research interests include: “Environmental Conservation,” and “Ecology.”

Noteworthy: In the Spring of 2019 Dr. Johansen was recognized as the outstanding part-time instructor by Austin Peay University.

Imani,Jocelyn headshot 2019                                   Dr. Jocelyn Imani currently serves as Assistant Dean for graduate student Academic Operations and Adjunct Professor of History.  She holds a Ph.D. in History from Howard University.  Dr. Imani previously served as Research and Curatorial Assistant with the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Her research interests include: “Black Power and the Legacy of the National Council of Negro Women.”

Noteworthy:  Dr. Imani is a second-generation graduate of Fisk University.

Jenkins Willysha headshot 2019 Ms. Willysha S. Jenkins currently serves as Instructor of Bioinformatics.  She currently holds an M.S. in Biological and Biomedical Sciences from North Carolina Central University.  She previously served as a graduate teaching assistant at North Carolina Central University.  Her research interests include: “Big Data” and “Biomarkers of Disease.”  

Noteworthy: Ms. Jenkins previously served as a science teacher at the Saint Teresa Kisubi Girls Primary Academy and, Kisubi Brother’s University both in Kisubi, Uganda.

Rogers,Latanya headshot 2019                                    Dr. La Tanya Rogers serves as Associate Professor of English and Literature.  She holds a Ph.D. in African-American Literature from Howard University.  Dr. Rogers previously served as Associate Professor in the Department of English, and Assistant Dean for Academic Student Affairs in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of District of Columbia.  Her research interests include: “Identity and Cultural Awareness” and “Resistance and Black Female Subjectivity.”   

Noteworthy:  Dr. Rogers previously served as an interpreter and translator for the United States Embassy, Foreign Commercial Service in Madrid, Spain.   

Devine Williams Clarlynda hedshot 2019Dr. Clarlynda Williams-Devine serves as Associate Professor of Bioinformatics.  Williams-Devine holds a Ph.D. in Bioinformatics from North Carolina State University.  Prior to starting employment with Fisk University, she served as Assistant Professor of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics at North Carolina Central University.  She previously held positions at Duke University Medical School and at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Her research interest includes: “Data Mining, Data Technologies” and “Endotype Identification in Diseases.”

Noteworthy: Dr. Williams-Devine won the 2016 Undergraduate Mentorship Award at North Carolina Central University.

worthy,keno headshot 2019Dr. Keno Worthy serves as Assistant Professor of Education.  He holds the Ed.D., and two M.Ed. degrees from Tennessee State University, in Curriculum and Instruction and Special Education.  Other positions held include serving as an Exceptional Education Teacher for the Davidson County Schools.  Previously, Dr. Worthy held positions at Tennessee State, Fisk, and Florida A&M Universities.  His research interests include: “Learning Communities for Students With Disabilities,” and “Global Services for Students with Disabilities.” 

Noteworthy: Dr. Worth is Certified K-12 Special Education for Tennessee, and Certified Gifted Standard K-12 by Vanderbilt University.


Rasico, Patrick headshot 2019Dr. Patrick Rasico has been appointed to serve as the Mellon Foundation’s Post Doctoral member of the faculty.  A recent graduate of Vanderbilt University, Dr. Rasico holds a Ph.D. in History from the institution.  Over the course of his career, he has been recognized numerous times, most recently by the Will Campbell Binkley Graduate Education Fund (2018).

Noteworthy:  Dr. Rasico is the son of Fisk University faculty member Dr. Nancy Rasico.


Rainey, Shirley headshot 2019Ms. Shir-earn Rainey serves as Coordinator of Veterans Affairs.  She holds an MS in Counseling from Alabama A&M University.  She has previously served as a Community Supportive Specialist for Veterans and the Centerstone Foundation.  Rainey also has served as Transitional Services Case Manager for Goodwill Industries.  She is a previous recipient of the prestigious RCA scholarship award (2014/2017).

Noteworthy:  She has been listed in the Global Directory, “Who’s Who Top Professionals,” 2012.

Upchurch, Daniel headshot 2019                                   Dr. Daniel Upchurch has been hired as the Director of the LEAD Program.  He also serves as Adjunct Professor of Psychology.   A native of Huntsville Alabama, Upchurch completed his graduate education at Tennessee State University and holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from the Institution.   He formerly served as the Coordinator for the Psychology Program and as Assistant Professor of Psychology at Alabama A&M University.   A licensed Psychologist, Upchurch has served as the Alabama Delegate to the National Association of School Psychologists.  His research interests include: “Bullying, and Police Relations Among Minorities,” and “Police Brutality.”

 Noteworthy:  Awarded Alabama A&M University’s Presidential Citation Faculty Award for Excellence in Service (2015).

Spencer, Rochelle headshot 2019Dr. Rochelle Spencer has been hired by the University to serve as a Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Literature.  Spencer completed the Ph.D. at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  She also holds an MA in Creative Writing from New York University.  Currently, Dr. Spencer serves as an Instructor of English and Literature at Sarah Lawrence College.  She has also held appointments at San Jose State University and the University of Kansas.  Over her career, Dr. Spencer has won several prestigious awards including the Center for Cultural Innovation Award (2015 and 2016), and the most inspired faculty from Spelman College.

Noteworthy: Dr. Spencer produced the exhibition, “Let’s Play,” at the Pro Art Gallery.