HSP Students have their own dedicated faculty for their course requirements.

HSP classes are small, tight-knit environments which foster closer connections among students and faculty members. Students who know each other, and their instructors, on an informal basis will ask questions and contribute to class discussions more frequently.

A high comfort level in class helps facilitate success outside of class. The Hilltop Scholars Program provides several opportunities each semester for faculty-student interaction outside of class, such as movie nights, receptions with faculty and staff, and service and leadership events.

Meet the HSP Faculty

Hilltop Scholar Program Faculty: Albert Mitugo, pictured in the mountains at Taos, New Mexico; SMU Outdoor Adventures, Leadership Coach for Lead@SMU

Dr. Albert Mitugo

Leadership Coach for Lead@SMU

Albert Mitugo loves to see the transformational power of Experiential Education work on students’ leadership growth. He runs the Outdoor Adventure Program at SMU and is involved with the Hilltop Scholars as a Leadership Coach for Lead@SMU.

Stephanie Amsel

Director and Senior Lecturer, Writing and Reasoning

Stephanie Amsel has been teaching at SMU since 2009, and she enjoys teaching and working with the students and mentors in the program because there is always something new to learn. Before moving to Dallas, she taught in public and private schools in New York, Italy, and Texas. She received her MA and PhD from the University of Texas at San Antonio and specializes in Italian and English medieval literature. Stephanie is the Chaucer bibliographer for the New Chaucer Society. 

Portrait of Brian Fennig, Senior Lecturer of Applied Physiology and Wellness

Brian Fennig

Senior Lecturer of Applied Physiology and Sport Management

Brian Fennig came to Southern Methodist University in the spring of 2001. As a senior lecturer, he currently teaches in the Hilltop Scholars program. He earned his Bachelor of Kinesiology and Health Science in 1989 and his Master of Education in 1990 from Stephen F. Austin State University. He finished his second Master's Degree in Liberal Arts at Southern Methodist University in 1997. With emphasis in myth, pop music, and modern music technology, he completed his Ph.D. in Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas in December of 2013.

Portrait of Donna Gober, Director of Wellness.

Dr. Donna Gober

Senior Lecturer of Applied Physiology and Sport Management

Dr. Donna Gober joined the faculty of the Department of Applied Physiology and Sport Management in the fall of 2008 after earning an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership with a cognate in Higher Education from Lamar University. She has been teaching full time in higher education for 26 years. Dr. Gober earned a Master of Science in Wellness with minors in Exercise Physiology and Counseling from the University of Mississippi while employed as a graduate instructor teaching courses in the Department of Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management. Prior to graduate school, Dr. Gober was an elementary school teacher for 7 years, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with specialization in Life/Earth Science from Lamar University.  Her career as an educator spans 33 years. Currently, she is a Senior Lecturer at SMU, and teaches PRW 3303: Personal Responsibility and Wellness, and a variety of PRW-II activity classes including power yoga and bench aerobics.  Dr. Gober has served on Faculty Senate, The President’s Commission for the Status of Women at SMU, and chaired the Student Policies Committee. In recent years she received the Excellence in Mentoring award from the Office of Engaged Learning. Dr. Gober is committed to providing a meaningful, student-centered approach to learning for students.

Susan Norman Headshot - Susan is a white woman with dark hair with blonde highlights. She is wearing a white blouse under a black cardigan, and is posed with her chin resting in her hand on top of a dark wood table, smiling brightly.

Susan Ayotte Norman

Lecturer, Writing and Reasoning

Susan Ayotte Norman has been teaching first-year writing at SMU since 2015, in the Hilltop program in since 2016. She has a Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Dallas where her primary areas of focus were Narrative Theory and American Literature. In addition to teaching, Susan is a fiction and essay writer. She loves to read and write speculative fiction. She also loves teaching in the Hilltop Scholars Program because Hilltop students have the best discussions.

Pauline Newton

Senior Lecturer, Writing and Reasoning

At SMU, Pauline Newton has served on SMUReads, the President's Commission for the Needs of People with Disabilities, and the President's Commission on the Status of Women.  Her secret loves are the Hilltop Scholars program and informal meetings with students. They have lunch and talk about their lives and dreams— and the meaning of happiness. In her free time, she works with a local non-profit, The Dallas Hearing Foundation, to get hearing aids and cochlear implants and related services to individuals in need of those services. She does crazy runs with her friends, including Obstacle Warrior and Viking Runs. She also loves traveling with her twins and husband to Mexico City and other places around the country and world. 

Kristen is a white woman with dark brown curly hair. She is posed with a curled hand resting against her right temple, and is wearing a black blouse.

Kristen Polster

Lecturer, Writing and Reasoning

Kristen has been teaching at SMU since 2001, and a part of the SMU community since transferring here as an undergraduate in 1992. She has taught first year writing courses, acted as founding director of the Hilltop Scholars Program, and assisted with the World of Shakespeare course. She is dedicated to helping students write better and more confidently, and has worked in the Writing Center at the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center since 2007. Her dissertation examines the use of ink as a tool of humoral balance and imbalance in the English sonnet tradition and in the dramas of the English Renaissance. She has presented papers on aspects of this topic at meetings of the Shakespeare Association of America and the South Central MLA. She also enjoys writing short fiction, and has been recognized by the Dallas Museum of Art’s Arts and Letters Live for one of her short stories, “The Implosion.”