Faculty who offer courses through us.


Todd Breyfogle, Ph.D

A native of Colorado, Todd attended Colorado College where his interest in philosophy and theology were first ignited. While at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, Todd was a member of the Oxford Bach Choir. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. The former director of the University of Denver Honors Program, Todd currently serves as Director of Seminars for The Aspen Institute. He is also Editor of the American Oxonian, a quarterly publication of the Association of American Rhodes Scholars.


Nicolee Jikyo McMahon,

Roshi Nicolee began her personal meditation practice in 1969 and, in 1980, entered into formal Zen study at the Zen Center of Los Angeles. She received Dharma Transmission from Taizan Maezumi Roshi in 1995. Nicolee is the originator of the ”Practice of Immediacy®”, which integrates Zen practice with art, music, writing, poetry, or movement. Nicolee is married and has two grown children, a stepson, and four grandchildren. She also works as a licensed Marriage and Family Counselor.


Robert McMahon, Ph.D.

Robert’s interest in poetry, mysticism, and philosophy began with an early childhood experience of the magical nature of letters and words. He published scholarly books on Augustine, Milton, and Medieval Mysticism over the course of 20 years while teaching an interdisciplinary course in a university Honors College. He has a long-standing meditation and contemplative prayer practice. Robert lives with his wife, whose Beauty lights his way, and with his pet rabbits who have taught him the importance of petitation.


Reverend Clare C. Novak

Reverend Clare C. Novak serves as Interfaith Minister at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Incline Village, Nevada. She was ordained by One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in June 2010. Clare’s ministry includes creating interfaith liturgies, leading workshops and youth programs, and facilitating a group which meets weekly to engage in the ancient contemplative practice of Lectio Divina. Clare also works as an independent writer and editor, drawing on over 30 years of professional experience developing and producing clear writing for corporate marketing, publishing, and non-profit organizations.


Kim Orr, M.A., E –RYT 500, C-IAYT, YACEP

Kim Orr has lived all over the world and likes to say that she can ask for a cookies in seven languages (and that is not counting the dead languages she knows).   Kim holds a B.A. from Bowdoin College, and a M.A. from Bryn Mawr College. After passing her doctoral examinations Kim taught History of Art at the University of Delaware and Louisiana State University while writing her doctoral dissertation examining the philosophy of Plato and Plotinus with respect to aesthetics — the philosophy of Beauty —  and its application in the Baroque age.  She left university teaching upon passing the Foreign Service Exam.

For the next decade, Kim worked overseas both for government and private sector corporations including International Biochemicals Group (IBG)  a provider of oil field remediation services. IBG assumed that if Kim could make sense of ancient Greek philosophy, she could surely assimilate enough biology, chemistry, and engineering to assist them with their international toxic waste remediation efforts.

After years of extensive overseas work and travel, Kim decided to turn her attention to the contemplative practices that had sustained her all along.

She returned to the classroom as a Yoga Teacher and Therapist after a 3,000 hour intensive course of study of Asana, Anatomy, Philosophy, and practicum.  At this point, Kim been teaching and providing yoga therapy services for over 15 years. She also hold the E-RYT 500 credential —  the highest level of accreditation for Yoga Professionals qualifying her to train others to become yoga teachers.  She is one of only six certified advanced yoga therapists in the USA.  Her yoga therapy training is in addition to her designation as a yoga teacher and trainer with Yoga Alliance.  

In recent years Kim has done groundbreaking work in yoga therapy with children with Autism.  Kim is honored to be providing yoga therapy to US Military Personnel who have returned from Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  She has provided yoga therapy services and taught meditation at Woman’s hospital and St. James Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge and St. Patrick’s Episcopal church in Incline, Nevada.  She has worked with cancer patients around the country.


Mark Packer, Ph.D.

Born to an immigrant Jewish family, Mark Packer grew up in post-World War II New York. His exposure to European culture and traditional Judaism inspired his passion for scholarship at an early age. While still in his teens he began the study of philosophy, which he continued at the State University of New York, where he was graduated Summa Cum Laude. In 1979, he earned his Doctorate in Philosophy from Northwestern University in Chicago. During the past thirty years, Mark has been teaching in a wide variety of disciplines. In addition to philosophy, he has offered courses in history, art theory, comparative religion, and literature. He has taught at Vanderbilt University, Dartmouth College and other schools. Now on the faculty of the University of South Carolina, he has recently assumed the school’s first Professorship in Interdisciplinary Studies. Mark’s wife, Sharon, is an equestrian photographer. They have been married since 1999 and live in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where they own and manage a horse farm.


Barry Kaigen McMahon

Barry Kaigen McMahon, Roshi, began his Zen training in California in the early 1970s with Taizan Maezumi Roshi, one of the seminal figures of Zen’s birth in the West. He soon moved to Japan and spent almost five years studying with Osaka Koryu Roshi (Maezumi Roshi’s Rinzai teacher.) Barry was the sole foreigner living at the Hannya Dojo, a lay-Zen training school in Tokyo. He returned to the United States in 1978 and entered the US Navy as a fighter pilot, flying F-14s off the deck of the USS Nimitz. The Navy’s technical education prompted him to deepen his studies of modern physics which eventually resulted in an invitation in 2003 to give a talk at the Naval War College on “Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and Buddhism.” He enjoys sports, acting, and flying, as well as deep spiritual training. He received Dharma Transmission from Charles Tenshin Fletcher Roshi in 2003. Barry is married and has one grown son, two step-children and four step-grandchildren.


Michael Alec Rose, Ph.D.

Michael Alec Rose is Associate Professor of Composition at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music. His many awards and commissions include the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation’s chamber music commission, for which he composed his String Quartet No. 2; 26 consecutive annual awards in composition from ASCAP, 1986-2011; commissions from the Blair and Mendelssohn String Quartets; and three works for the Nashville Symphony. Rose’s Interferon, or Piano Concerto was performed by two orchestras in the Czech Republic in 2001. Graces, Furies was commissioned for the Carolina Piano Trio, who performed it widely in 2007-8. Rose’s new song cycle for tenor and piano, Bucolics (poems by Maurice Manning), was aired in Miami in November, 2010, and Burlesques before the Ark (Piano Quartet) will have its Baltimore and Nashville premieres in 2011-2012. Rose is the co-director of an ongoing International Exchange Program between the Royal Academy of Music, London (RAM) and the Blair School of Music. He regularly visits RAM as composer-in-residence, with performances of his music at various sites in London. Two large works growing out of the Exchange are the Pastoral Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, and The Periodic Table (Chamber Concerto for Piano and Eight Players). In October, 2011, Rose’s Hopeful Monsters (for String Ensemble), commemorating the anti-fascist Battle of Cable Street, was premiered at Wilton’s Music Hall in East London, right around the corner from where the battle took place in 1936. Rose’s first book, Audible Signs: Essays from a Musical Ground, was published by Continuum Books in 2010. Rose studied with Pulitzer-Prize winning composers George Crumb and Richard Wernick, also with George Rochberg and Samuel Adler. He has won several major teaching awards at Vanderbilt, including the prestigious Chair of Teaching Excellence.