Faculty & Staff

Dr. Ron Von Burg

Resident Professor; Fall 2019

Ron Von Burg joined Wake Forest University in the Summer of 2012. He is currently an Associate Professor of Communication, Director of Graduate Studies, and Core Faculty in both the Interdisciplinary Humanities Program and the Master’s Program in Sustainability. These varied academic appointments reflect a broad appreciation for diverse research interests, such as the rhetoric of science, public argument, public discourses on religion and science, sustainability studies, and science fiction film studies.

Dr. Von Burg enjoys how the teacher-scholar model develops critical thinkers who can navigate the intersections of various academic disciplines. He has a particular interest in the the first year college experience, serving as a Faculty Fellows in South Hall for the past four years. He is regularly found in the South Hall lobby every Friday for Faculty Fellows Fruit Fridays chatting with first year students about their experiences at Wake Forest. He is also a Director of the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute, a Department of State funded grant program that brings high school students from across Europe and the United States to Wake Forest to learn about citizenship and civic engagement. Serving as the Resident Faculty in Copenhagen for Global AWAKEnings is an exciting confluence of these interests and experiences.

Dr. Von Burg is lucky to share these experiences with his spouse, and fellow Department of Communication faculty member, Dr. Alessandra Von Burg. They look forward to welcoming the incoming class of 2023.

Dr. Akbar Salam

Resident Professor; Spring 2020

Akbar Salam was born and educated in London, earning a BSc degree in Chemical Physics with First Class Honours in 1990 and a PhD degree in Chemistry in 1993, both from University College London. He joined the Department of Chemistry at Wake Forest University in 2003, where he is currently Professor of Chemistry. Prof. Salam regularly teaches courses in General and Physical Chemistry, and every so often offers a First Year Seminar entitled: Wanted Dead or Alive: Schrödinger’s Cat. His research expertise lies in the area of theoretical and computational chemistry, with special emphasis on the development and application of molecular quantum electrodynamics to radiation-molecule and molecule-molecule interactions. Scholarly efforts to date have resulted in the publication of two books (Molecular Quantum Electrodynamics, Wiley, 2010; Non-Relativistic QED Theory of the van der Waals Dispersion Interaction, Springer, 2016) and over sixty-five peer-reviewed journal articles. His work has been recognized by the award of the Harry Poole Prize (1990), The Royal Society Postdoctoral Fellowship (1994), the Wiley-International Journal of Quantum Chemistry Young Investigator Award (2005), Wake Forest University Ollen R Nalley Faculty Fellowship (2009), Wake Forest University Award for Research Excellence (2010) and a Mercator Fellowship (2017). In January, 2019 he will take up a semester-long Marie S Curie External Senior Fellowship at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies in Freiburg, Germany.

Dr. Sam Gladding

Resident Professor; Fall 2018

Dr. Samuel T. Gladding is a professor in, and the former chair of, the Department of Counseling at Wake Forest University. Dr. Gladding has also served Wake Forest as a Vice Provost and Assistant to the President. He is a fellow in the American Counseling Association (ACA) as well and its former president.

Dr. Gladding has authored numerous professional publications, including the latest history of the University. In addition, he has written dozens of books and refereed journal articles, along with half a dozen instructional videos and a double-digit number of poems. He is the past editor of the Journal for Specialists in Group Work. Twice a Fulbright Specialist (Turkey & China), Dr. Gladding has taught counseling and worked with universities in a dozen countries including Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Ireland, Sweden, Estonia, Canada, Austria, Australia, South Africa, and Singapore. His writings have been translated into half a dozen languages, for example, Korean, Indonesian, Chinese, Polish, and Russian.

Dr. Gladding once took a dozen undergraduate students to live in the slums of Calcutta, India, for three weeks and work in the homes of Mother Teresa. He was a first responder to the 9/11 attack in New York City and to the shootings at Virginia Tech providing psychological first aid to families. The American Counseling Association has awarded him the Gilbert and Kathleen Wrenn Award for a Humanitarian and Caring Person and have named one of their national awards after him. The Association for Creativity in Counseling has also named one of their national awards in his honor.

Dr. Gladding is married to Claire Tillson Gladding and they are the parents of three adult sons. He received his degrees from Wake Forest, Yale, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, worked as a clinician in a mental health center, and has taught graduate and undergraduates at colleges and universities in Connecticut, North Carolina, and Alabama. His favored hobbies are swimming, walking in the woods, playing with the family dog (a Sheltie named Lexie), seeing a good movie, reading history, and enjoying humor.

Dr. Thomas Phillips

Resident Professor; Spring 2019

Dr. Phillips received his BA and MA in English from Wake Forest and his Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina, where he studied the Victorian novel. Dr. Phillips joined Wake Forest University in 1982 and since then has taught a variety of courses involving the novel in English, the continental novel, novel to film, and fiction and ethics. He has taught in the College, in the Reynolda House Portals of Discovery, and in the Master of Liberal Arts Lifelong Learning program.

Dr. Phillips is also an Associate Dean of the College who assists in the various duties of the College including service as co-chair of the Honor and Ethics Council. He is Director of Wake Forest Scholars, an information and support resource to help Wake Forest students and recent alumni/ae envision over time how pre- and post-graduate scholarships – such as the Truman, Goldwater, Fulbright, British Marshall, National Science Foundation, and Rhodes – might be appropriate and viable opportunities.

Dr. Phillips feels privileged to have taught five semesters abroad among the Wake Forest houses in London, Venice, and Vienna. In his spare time – in addition to plenty of reading, of course – he enjoys listening to classical music of all kinds, especially in live performance. He’s looking forward to musical and other excursions with GA students in Copenhagen and in Vienna. He is excited about joining the class of 2022 Global AWAKEnings contingent!

Dr. Saylor Breckenridge

Resident Professor; Fall 2017

Dr. R. Saylor Breckenridge joined the faculty of Wake Forest University in the Fall of 2001 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2007. He has earned degrees in both Sociology and Mathematics and his interests are broadly oriented toward studying competition/cooperation and success/failure from economic, organizational, and cultural sociological perspectives. In addition to Sociology, Dr. Breckenridge is affiliated with Wake Forest University’s interdisciplinary Film Studies Program and its Master of Arts in Sustainability Program in the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability.

Dr. Breckenridge has served two tours of duty at the National Science Foundation, a primary source of federal support for basic science research at colleges and universities in the United States. He was the Director of the Sociology Program from 2012 to 2014. During this time, he also served as a co-Program Director of Building Community and Capacity for Data-Intensive Research in the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences and in Education and Human Resources. He previously served as the Director of the Methodology, Measurement, and Statistics Program from 2008 to 2009.

He has also worked extensively in international contexts, serving as a Visiting Associate Professor at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirikata City, Japan in 2007 and directing three student-oriented service-learning trips in Vietnam between 2005 and 2007.

Dr. Breckenridge has published research in journals such as Social Forces, Research in the Sociology of Work, Sociology of Sport, and the Review of Social Policy Research, among other venues. He has a history of both internal and external funding for his work. He regularly teaches courses on statistics, research methods, business and society, and the sociology of film.


Dr. Mary Dalton

Resident Professor; Spring 2018

Dr. Mary M. Dalton is Professor of Communication, Film Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies at Wake Forest University.  She has a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies and an M.A. in Broadcasting/Cinema from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro; her undergraduate degree is from Wake Forest University.

Mary’s professional interests are wide-ranging.  Her film Martha in Lattimore premiered at the Real to Reel Film Festival where it won Best Documentary and was an Official Selection of SILVERDOCS.

The third edition of her book The Hollywood Curriculum:  Teachers in the Movies was published in 2010.  In 2008, the co-authored book Teacher TV:  Sixty Years of Teachers on Television was published.  Mary worked on that book and also on the 2005 co-edited volume The Sitcom Reader:  America Viewed and Skewed with Laura R. Linder.

Mary maintains a media blog on the WFDD website at http://wfdddalton.wordpress.com/

She likes Southern folk art and primitive antiques.  When she can find the time, Mary enjoys knitting, cooking, gardening, and reading fiction, but she always tries to make time for going to the movies and following the progress of former students.