New faculty bring depth and diversity to Honors College

The Irvin D. Reid Honors College at Wayne State University is pleased to announce the hiring of three new senior lecturers,

Honors senior lecturers Dr. James Buccellato, Prof. Layla Saatchi, and Dr. Bryan R. Ellis
From L to R: Dr. James Buccellato, Prof. Layla Saatchi and Dr. Bryan Eliis

Dr. James Buccellato, Dr. Bryan R. Ellis and Prof. Layla Saatchi, for the 2019-20 school year. Each brings a unique perspective to the classroom, blending diverse backgrounds and disciplines to deepen students’ understanding of the City of Detroit and the world beyond. 

Dr. James Buccellato, who previously taught in the Honors College, returns after serving as a faculty member in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northern Arizona University. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Wayne State University and writes about the politics of crime for academic journals, crime anthologies and national news websites. His book, Early Organized Crime in Detroit: Vice, Corruption and the Rise of the Mafia explores Detroit’s struggle with gang violence, public corruption and the politics of vice during the tumultuous first half of the 20th century.

Dr. Bryan R. Ellis, a graduate of Denby High School on Detroit’s east side, earned his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Montana and his Ph.D. from Howard University. He joins the Honors College after a three-year appointment at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology. His previous teaching experience includes a community college, a historically Black university, and a women’s college. His research focuses on social inequality and social justice, and he has lectured and published on race and sports, race and policing, and the sociology of education.      

Prof. Soraya (Layla) Saatchi earned her M.A. in Near East Studies in 2007 and is now a Philosophy Ph.D. candidate at Wayne State. She has written about Muslim women’s jurisprudence for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in Islam and is currently completing her Ph.D. dissertation, titled Intrareligious reasonable peer disagreement: Debunking “The True Islam.” Since 2007, she has taught courses in Islamic and Middle East history, Islamic law, Comparative Religion, Introduction to Logic and Introduction to Philosophy at various universities in Metro Detroit.

“We have an exceptionally strong group of faculty in Honors,” said John Corvino, Dean of the Irvin D. Reid Honors College, “and it was important to maintain that high quality. These three new additions bring wonderful gifts to the table—for the benefit of our students, the college, and the entire university community.”

Dr. Buccellato, Dr. Ellis and Prof. Saatchi will work with the four current Senior Lecturers – Dr. Beth Fowler, Dr. Nicole Gerring, Dr. Aaron Martin and Dr. Timothy Moran – to teach the first-year course “The City: Changing Detroit” in the fall semester before teaching special topics small seminar courses during the winter semester. The Honors College is welcoming over 480 first-year students this year, one of its largest classes ever.

“I am excited not only to be working with such an amazing and talented group of academics, but even more thrilled for our Honors students, who will have the opportunity to work with these incredibly diverse and experienced Senior Lecturers,” said Dr. Martin. “The whole Honors College community could not be more fortunate for the addition of Drs. Buccellato, Ellis, and Saatchi. I cannot wait to start working with and learning from them.”

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