Meet The Team








           Leslie Simon




Tiff Headshot




Honors Progam Director: Kate McPherson (On Sabbatical)

Email:; Phone: 801-863-8055; Schedule Appointment

Dr. McPherson, a UVU faculty member since 2000, is Professor of English and has directed the Honors Program since 2012. She teaches courses in Honors such as Ancient Legacies and the Honors Capstone in addition to English Renaissance literature, including courses in Shakespeare.

McPherson is also co-editor of a forthcoming 2023 relaunch of the Shakespeare Life & Times website, a section of the Internet Shakespeare Editions, with Dr. Kathryn Moncrief (Worcester Polytechnic Institute). With Dr. Moncrief, she has also published three edited collections of scholarly essays and one with Dr. James Mardock (University of Nevada-Reno). Her work also includes numerous articles on early modern maternity in scholarly journals. She holds a PhD in English Renaissance Literature from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.          

She notes that “I graduated from an Honors Program at a large state university and believe deeply in the power of Honors to connect students to their peers and to their own academic and professional strengths. I’m especially thrilled to work with both incoming and advanced students, linking them with UVU’s outstanding faculty and the many opportunities they have for engaged learning and enriching undergraduate research opportunities.”       

Kate is married to UVU 2005 alumnus Michael Nagro, who teaches English at Timpanogos High School. They have one daughter, Miranda, a 2018 UVU alumna.

Honors Progam Interim Director: Leslie Simon

Email:; Phone: 801-863-8128; Schedule Appointment

I am an Associate Professor of Humanities in the Department of Philosophy and Humanities, where I’ve served as Department Chair and as Humanities Program Coordinator. I have taught myriad classes since arriving on campus in 2011 – including seminars like “Dickens,” “Filthy Victorians,” and “The Infinite and the Instant: Studies in Modern Literature and Mathematics.” Most recently, I taught a senior-level course on narratology in which students and I wrote a collaborate research paper that we are preparing now to present at conference and submit for publication. I have received several UVU teaching awards – nominated by both faculty and students – including the Faculty Excellence Award, the UVU CAL Mentor of the Year Award, and a Student Association Wolverine Commitment to Excellence award. I did my graduate work at Boston University (M.A. and Ph.D., English Literature) and my undergraduate work at Texas A&M University (B.A. in both English Literature and French Literature).

I am a Dickens scholar and have published in Dickens Quarterly, Dickens Studies Annual, Studies in the Novel, and Nineteenth-Century Contexts. I am currently working on a book manuscript on the heap – as an image, an object, and a paradox – in the nineteenth-century imagination, Heaps: On Dickens and Modern Mathematics.

I live in Salt Lake City with my husband and daughter and our dog and two cats. I love Gilmore Girls, am a mediocre cook, am not (and have never been) on social media, and am at my best when trekking through the foothills in all weather conditions. UVU is a special place – and Honors sits right at the heart of that specialness. What a gift to find myself here for a spell.          

Assistant Director: Tiffany Nez

Email:; Phone: 801-863-6223; Schedule Appointment

Tiffany Nez graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English Literary Studies from Utah Valley University in 2007 and later she earned her Masters Degree from Johns Hopkins University. She joined the Honors Program staff in 2007 after several years of working outside higher education in business management positions. Tiffany mentors and advises students, oversees the Honors Residential Program, Honors scholarships, and events. She is currently researching the historical narratives and policy on US reservations with the hope that through participation, she may fulfill her obligations of her cultural heritage and ancestors. She works closely with the UVU Native Initiative and the Multicultural Student Services. 

Tiffany is married to a UVU alumnus and they have one daughter, also a UVU alumna.

Advisor II: Dave Oakeson

Email:; Phone: 801-863-8138; Schedule Appointment

Dave has been advising at UVU since 2019.  He is a former high school math and art teacher. He taught for the Granite school district in the Salt Lake valley for 30 years. He received an undergraduate degree in math and art education from Brigham Young University.  He earned a master’s degree from the University of Utah in Educational Administration.  In December 2021, he finished a graduate certificate in academic advising from Kansas State University.  He also lays claim to Salt Lake Community College and Utah State University having attended each for one year.

His passion in life has always been education.  He loved teaching high school, but higher education is really where exciting things happen.  He enjoys classical and spiritual music.  Anything that speaks softly and emotionally to his soul.  He enjoys gardening.  Getting his hands in the dirt is his go to stress reliever. His pipe dream would be to work as a landscape architect. He loves art museums and attending the theatre. He enjoys relaxing at home and being with his spouse Sandra and son Abe.

Honors Steering Committee

The Honors Steering Committee is comprised of UVU faculty members, Honors Coordinators, and a member of the Honors Ambassadors. The Honors Steering Committee works with the Honors Program Director and assists with decisions concerning Honors curriculum, Program governance, policy, development, and evaluation deliberations. Members of the Honors Steering Committee represent the colleges and/or departments served by the Program and also elicit support from the UVU campus community.


Meet our Steering Committee


Honors Student Ambassadors 

The Honors Ambassadors is an established committee of UVU Honors students who, along with the Steering Committee, help govern the Program. As student representatives, they act as advocates to their fellow Honors students when problems and questions arise concerning the Program itself, or from their interaction with professors, Honors Program Coordinators, and other students. The Honors Ambassadors work directly with Honors Program Director and student information is kept confidential.

If students have any questions, concerns, or are interested in joining the Honors Ambassadors, we solicit applications each February.

Ask an Ambassador

As student representatives, Honors Ambassadors act as advocates to their fellow Honors students when problems and questions arise concerning the Program itself, or from their interaction with professors, Honors Program Coordinators, and other students. Here you will be able to interact with our student leadership team. 


Meet our Student Ambassadors