Centennial Honors College

Faculty and Staff

Rick Hardy

Dr. Richard "Rick" Hardy


Richard J. (Rick) Hardy is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Centennial Honors College at Western Illinois University. He received his undergraduate degree with honors in political science at Western Illinois University and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He has served on the faculties of Northern State University, Duke University and the University of Missouri-Columbia, and has taught a wide range of courses in American Politics, Constitutional Law, and Civic Leadership.

Rick believes that “free government requires active citizens.” To that end, he has been actively engaged in civic affairs. He helped lead several political reform drives, served on numerous government commissions and boards of directors, volunteered in civic organizations, consulted on dozens of political races at all levels of government, and served as a presidential elector in the Electoral College.

His administrative positions at the University of Missouri included: Assistant Director of the Honors College, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Director of the Masters’ Program in Public Policy, Director of the National Institute for Advanced Civic Studies, Director of Internships, and Founder and Director of the Institute for Leadership in Civic Education. Most recently, he completed a four-year term as Chair of the Political Science Department and two years as Interim Director of the Honors College at WIU.

Rick has also served as a political analyst for numerous media outlets (e.g., CNN, NBC News, FOX News, Associated Press), and has been quoted extensively in various outlets (e.g., Newsweek, USA Today, New York Times, US News & World Report, Kansas City Star, Parade Magazine, St. Louis Post-Dispatch). To date, has garnered over 60 significant teaching and civic leadership awards, including the University of Missouri’s four-campus Burlington Northern Faculty Achievement Award, the prestigious William Kemper Award, the Missouri Bar Association’s Civic Education Award, and two campus nominations for the Case National Professor of the Year Award. At Western Illinois University, he won several campus awards and was selected to deliver the John Hallwas Lecture in the Liberal Arts.

Finally, Rick has published or edited seven books and his articles have appeared in a number of professional journals. Rick is a native of Burlington, Iowa. He and his wife, Linda, have two grown children, four grandchildren, four dogs and two cats. His lifelong passion includes playing the plectrum banjo, 5-string banjo, and guitar. And for the past seven years Rick has been a member of the WIU’s Endnotes musical group.

Dr. Jennifer McNabb

Associate Director

Dr. Jen McNabb is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and the Associate Director of the Centennial Honors College at Western Illinois University. She graduated from the Honors Program at Adrian College with a B.A. in History and earned graduate degrees from Bowling Green State University (M.A.) and the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she completed her Ph.D. in the History of Early Modern England, 1350-1714. She joined the faculty of Western Illinois University in 2005. In 2009 she won both the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award and the Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Teaching, and in 2012 she won the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Service Award. She has served as advisor for several student organization and will serve as the faculty advisor for the Golden Key International Honour Society.

Dr. McNabb's passion for Honors education has been evidence since her arrival at Western. She won election as a member of the University Honors Council, where she served on numerous subcommittees charged with selecting student scholarship recipients, writing prize winners, and the College Scholar. She has taught First-Year Experience Honors courses and sections of GH 299 and has supervised In-Course Honors and Honors theses in History. Her students also regularly participate in Thomas E. Helm Undergraduate Research Day each spring.

Dr. McNabb is also actively involved in research and professional activities. Her publications on courtship and marriage in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England have appeared in The Sixteenth Century Journal and Quidditas. She serves on the Executive Board of the Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association and acts as Assistant Editor of the Association's journal, and she is also a member of the Program Committee of the Midwest Conference on British Studies. She regularly presents her work at regional, national, and international conferences as well as regional teacher in-service programs and through local programs in Macomb.

Originally from Flint, Michigan, Dr. McNabb is an avid hockey fan and enjoys devoting her spare time to reading (mysteries in particular), fitness, cooking, and travel (especially when the destination is the United Kingdom, Michigan, or Maryland, home to her two nephews).

Dr. Molly Homer
Dr. Molly Homer.

Academic Honors Advisor

Dr. Homer grew up in Ames, Iowa. She received her bachelor’s degree in Mathematical and Computational Sciences from Stanford University and then worked for three years as a database designer for a computer graphics company in Salt Lake City that built flight and submarine simulators for the military. She then moved to Champaign to pursue graduate work in Linguistics at the

University of Illinois, where she received a master’s degree and Ph.D. Before coming to WIU she taught linguistics, phonetics, and phonology at several universities including the University of Alberta, UC San Diego, Brown University, and the University of Pittsburgh. In 2003 she became the Honors Advisor at WIU, and she advises honors students on how to meet their honors requirements.



Michele J. Aurand 

Transfer and Quad Cities Honors Advisor

Michele Aurand is the newest Academic Honors Advisor in the Honors College. She is responsible for advising honors transfer students on how to meet their honors requirements, and will also be coordinating the honors program at our WIU-Quad Cities campus. Michele is also the faculty advisor for the Student Honors Association and the Phi Theta Kappa Alumni Association. After receiving her B.A. in Speech Communication from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, Michele completed her M.S.Ed. degree in Counseling from the WIU-Quad Cities campus. She is currently working on a second Master's Degree in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Administration at WIU.

Michele has worked as an Admission Representative at Marycrest International University and then as an Admissions Counselor at the University of Illinois-Springfield. She came to WIU in 2001 as an Admissions Counselor in the Undergraduate Admissions Office where she worked for 8 years before moving over to the Honors College in 2009 to be the Advisor and Program Coordinator for the Interdisciplinary Studies Program. In September 2012, Michele was nominated by a student and awarded Academic Advisor of the Month. Then, in 2013 ISP moved to Horrabin Hall to be housed in the same office as the Bachelor of General Studies Program, and Michele transitioned into her new role as Academic Honors Advisor. More recently, she has also been teaching various courses in the RPTA department as well as University courses in Personal Growth for freshman and Career Internship for seniors. Michele is a Building Connections mentor on campus, as well as the chair of the COAA Awards and Recognition committee.

Originally from Dixon, Illinois, Michele enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, skiing, canoeing and kayaking. She also enjoys traveling all over the world, but is especially fond of visiting the Hawaiian islands. She also loves to attend live music and comedy shows and is an avid Chicago Bears fan.

Patty Battles

Special Events Facilitator

Ms. Battles began working in Honors (formerly the University Honors Program) in 1987. In addition to performing a variety of office duties, she coordinates a number of Honors College sponsored events and is a member of the University's Commencement Committee serving as the primary coordinator of the Academic Honors Convocation ceremonies.  Ms. Battles grew up in Tremont, Illinois and has an associate's degree from Illinois Central College. She states that the best part of her job is "Working with students and being able to form relationships with them that extend beyond their graduation."

Ms. Battles has been married to her husband, Rick, for 36 years and has three daughters, Kimberly, Nikki, and Lindsay; three sons-in-law, Dustin, Tim, and Adam. She has two grandsons, Dreyton and Jaxon, who she says "live way too far away" and three granddaughters, Ada Grace, Emery, and Rylynn, who live in Macomb.  In addition to playing with her grandchildren, she enjoys boating, reading, baking, and spending time at the Lake of the Ozarks.


Janell McGruder

Program Assistant

Janell McGruder joined the Centennial Honors College staff on August 2, 2010 as an Office Support Specialist and has been in her current position as the Program Assistant since July 2013. She is responsible for the Honors Advantage Rewards, Honors Advantage Programs, and recruitment of qualified students. She started working at WIU in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access in October 2006. Janell enjoys working in the Honors College because she "loves watching students reach their full potential".

Janell completed her her M.S.Ed. in Counseling with a specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in May 2014 at WIU, where she also received her Bachelors degree. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, cooking, and traveling.


Gregory Boidy

Graduate Assistant

Greg joined the Centennial Honors College as a Graduate Assistant on February 14, 2014. He is responsible for maintenance of the Centennial Honors College website as well as social media, and Purple Post pages. He also assists with departmental events and secretarial work. He started working at WIU in September 2010 with University Technology.

Greg completed his Associates of Arts in Criminal Justice at the College of Lake County in Spring 2010 before transferring to WIU. At WIU, Greg received his Bachelors of Science in Law Enforcement & Justice Administration in Spring 2012 and a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science in Spring 2013. Greg is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Political Science at WIU.