Around campus, our professors are often described as widely knowledgeable, inspiring, respectful and enjoyable. What makes our classes so unique is our intimate learning environment coupled with a solid commitment by our faculty to the integration of faith and scholarship.
Professor Benda was born in Fullerton, California and grew up in Orange County. She has always been passionate about people, and has the drive to understand others, and help those who are less fortunate. Professor Benda attended Vanguard University (formerly Southern California College) in Costa Mesa, CA, and received her BA in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. She also received a Master’s degree from Vanguard University in Clinical Psychology. Professor Benda has worked as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist helping abused and neglected children, with couples in marital settings, and helping college students identify and set goals. She has conducted workshops and support groups dealing primarily with grief and loss as a Bereavement Facilitator.
For the past 17 years, Professor Benda has served at Concordia University Irvine as a Resident Faculty member teaching both Sociology and Psychology undergraduate courses. Some of the classes that she currently teaches are Introduction to Sociology, Theories of Personality, and Social Psychology. Some of her favorite topics to discuss deal with grief and loss throughout our lives and birth order of the family in which we are brought up. Professor Benda feels that it’s more than just a blessing to be in the classroom, it’s a privilege. Whether it’s speaking to parents of potential students, or welcoming a student for the first time in one of her classes, she feels that the role of a professor doesn’t end in the classroom-it’s a lifelong relationship.
Professor Benda has also participated with Royal Family Kids Camp (a summer camp for children in the foster care system) for the past 20 years. She works as one of the 5 social workers alongside other camp counselors, camp staff and campers for one week each year. Professor Benda enjoys taking Concordia undergraduate students who enroll in the 2-unit Practicum course offered to Psychology or Behavioral Sciences majors to the Royal Family Kids Camp each summer.
Dr. Kristen Koenig completed her Master’s degree at Oxford University and her Doctorate of Philosophy at the University of York, England. Dr. Koenig joined the faculty at Concordia University Irvine in 2013 after teaching twelve years at Concordia College – New York. Her expertise is in the area of globalization, but her true passion is encouraging students to adapt the sociological imagination to understanding the contemporary world around them. Dr. Koenig encourages students to critically analyze everyday life and enjoys presenting on a variety of salient topics. Some of these presentations include: “The Sociology of Freaks;” “Finding Goodness, Truth and Beauty: From Kaepernick to Kavanaugh;” “The Sociology of Death;” “America the Beautiful: What does this mean?” and “Finding Wisdom in the State of the Union.” Dr. Koenig lives with her family on campus in the Living Learning Community of Bella Amore, and hosts numerous events that bring students and faculty into more informal academic conversations.
Dr. John Lu completed his doctorate at UC Irvine in Social Psychology (emphasis in Health Psychology). He began working at Concordia Irvine in 2004. His research interests are in the mind-body relationship. Most recently he has been examining happiness and optimal performance. Dr. Lu teaches courses in Statistics, Cognition, Social Psychology, and Health Psychology. His greatest enjoyment in teaching is watching students grow academically and personally as they are challenged to foster their gifts.
Dr. Mendez has been a full-time Professor of Psychology at Concordia for the past 25 years. While at Concordia, he has also worked as a Clinical Psychologist with a private practice in Newport Beach. He graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary with an M.A. in Theology and a Ph.D. in Psychology. Dr. Mendez has appeared on the television show “Good Morning America.” He has published the book, “Ready, Set, Married: 12 Christian Character Traits for a Strong and Lasting Marriage.” He plans to publish his second book, “Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence” next fall. Dr. Mendez is a member of the Christian Association of Psychological Studies, the American Psychological Association, and the San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group. He is a frequent teacher and speaker on marriage, family, and parenting issues at several Christian Schools and Churches in the local community.
Jack M. Schultz, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma), has multiple publications in the anthropology of religion; most notable is his book The Seminole Baptists of Oklahoma: Maintaining a Traditional Community (University of Oklahoma Press, 1999). As a practicing anthropologist, he continues to research the interplay of religion and culture.
Dr. Schultz has conducted ethnographic research among a variety of peoples including the Seminoles, Creek, Pawnee, Lakota, and Navajo nations. He has also investigated religion in Eastern Europe and Japan. In addition to his interest in religion and culture, Dr. Schultz also investigates material culture and native technologies.
As an anthropology instructor, Dr. Schultz is intentional in assisting his students to see the hidden forces of culture in their own lives, as well as in the lives of others they interact with. As globalization continues to shrink our world by putting us face-to-face with people of other traditions anthropology offers some important tools and perspectives which allow the participant to navigate their engagements with others more empathetically.
Dr. Schultz teaches a variety of classes on campus including Introduction of Cultural Anthropology, Religion in Society, Culture and Self, and Native Peoples of North America among others. He also teaches in the Christ College Cross-Cultural Ministry Center and both of our Synod’s Seminaries.
Born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Married to Christine A. Crow. Three children: Joshua Daniel; Anna Rebekah; Abigail Jordin.