We’re happy to introduce our educators Mike Hillis and Rob Byrnes, Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) Professors

Michael R. Hillis, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Studies

Pacific Lutheran University

Tacoma, Washington

After receiving an undergraduate degree in speech, theatre, and English education, I worked for two years in the public schools, primarily in alternative school settings. I then obtained a masters degree in school counseling before entering the doctoral program at the University of Washington, specializing in multicultural education and educational psychology. After graduating from the UW, I taught in Tennessee for three years and arrived at PLU in 1997.

While at PLU, I have taught throughout our various programs — undergraduate, Project Lead, and Alternative Routes to Education. In the 2000-2001 academic year, I was a Fulbright Roving Scholar of American Studies in Norway, working with teachers and students in public schools across the country. Following the departure of our dean in 2005, I worked as part of the Dean Team and helped to coordinate our state and national accreditation visit in the fall of 2005. During the 2006-2007 academic year, I was the Co-Acting Dean and assumed the responsibilities of the Director of Graduate Studies, which is the one of the roles I currently hold. In the spring of 2008, I will be the Site Director for the semester abroad program in Trinidad & Tobago.


More info on Mike´s website


Ronald S. Byrnes, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Instructional Design and Leadership

Pacific Lutheran University

Tacoma, Washington


After earning an undergraduate degree in History and a Masters in Education, I taught high school in Los Angeles, California for four years and at an international school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for one year. Next I completed a doctorate in Curiculum Leadership and

International Studies at the Univesity of Denver. While at the University of Denver, I wrote a curriculum activity book for secondary school teachers titled Exploring the Developing World: Life in Africa and Latin America. My dissertation, titled, Global Education Classroom Life, was a qualitative study of an International Studies public high school in California. Upon completion of my doctorate, I taught at Guilford College, in Greensboro, North Carolina for five years. Since 1998, I have been teaching courses on the sociocultural foundations of public schooling, secondary teaching methods, writing, and cultural globalization at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. In 2003 I was PLU’s Site Director for the semester abroad program in Chengdu, China. And in 2008, I spent one semester guest teaching in Norway as a Fulbright scholar.

You can follow Ronald at his blog www.pressingpause.com and at Twitter @pressingpause


Our four-step methodology for the Access Water curriculum

  • Identify the issue at stake
  • Explore and find out more about the issue
  • Work out solutions to meet the challenges of the issue
  • Organize an action to reach out to the local community or to other schools to promote the chosen agenda for action to produce positive, measurable results.