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Switzerland Program - Staff and Faculty


Plank Director Switzerland

Ezra Plank





Monika Zimmerli

Coordinator of Finances and Human Resources


Faculty in Residence 2023-2024


Darlene Rivas

Darlene S. Rivas

Professor of History
Humanities/Teacher Education Division, Seaver College

Office Location: CAC 207

Darlene Rivas is a Professor of History and Latin American studies and received her PhD at Vanderbilt University. Her work focuses on U.S. foreign relations and transnational social and political movements in the context of Twentieth Century political culture.  Fascinated by life stories, she often integrates biographical approaches and role-playing simulations in her courses, and she is currently working on a game on the French Resistance. She and her husband Mike have participated in the Lausanne and Heidelberg programs and greatly enjoy living and learning with Pepperdine students abroad. They are eager to explore Pepperdine’s new surroundings in Vevey, build fresh traditions with the first Hauteville class, engage with Swiss culture, and taste their share of cheese and chocolate!


Faculty in Residence 2024-2025

Fall 2024

Donna Nofziger Plank Headshot

Donna Nofziger

Professor of Biology, Natural Science Division

Office: RAC 126

Donna Nofziger is professor of biology at Seaver College and teaches classes in cellular, molecular, and developmental biology. She is a Los Angeles native who earned her undergraduate degree in biology at Baylor University and her PhD from UCLA as part of the Molecular Biology Institute. She has loved every moment of her 25 years teaching at Pepperdine and in particular enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for learning about the natural world with her students. She has served International Programs on multiple occasions in Buenos Aires, Kenya, and Fiji. One of her daughters spent a year in Switzerland as part of Pepperdine’s International Program, and after visiting her there, Dr. Nofziger knew that she had to return as visiting faculty. She believes very strongly in the mission of Pepperdine’s international programs and has seen first hand how transformative this experience can be for her students (and herself). She is excited for cheese and chocolate-induced food comas - AND for creating memories exploring the beauty of Switzerland with the students.


Spring 2025

Ame Civendes

Ame Cividanes

Visiting Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies, International Studies and Languages Division

Office: PLC 197

Dr. Ame Cividanes is a Professor of Teaching of Hispanic Studies. She received her PhD in Contemporary Spanish Literature from Florida State University and has a secondary specialization in Curriculum Development and Second Language Acquisition. Professor Cividanes returned to Pepperdine in 2021 (she taught Spanish at Pepperdine from 1997-2000 and directed our Buenos Aires summer program). Prior to her return to Pepperdine, Dr. Cividanes was the Director of the Spanish and Portuguese Language Program at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut and has taught all levels of Spanish language, literature, and culture. Dr. Cividanes’ commitment to fomenting interculturality at the university level has been a personal and professional passion, and she has over 20 years of experience leading intensive language and culture programs in both Latin America and Europe. Dr. Cividanes lives in Calabasas with her husband and son who is a student at UChicago. Her family enjoys traveling and winter sports such as skiing. She is looking forward to meeting all of the Vevey students and experiencing the joys of learning about a new culture with them.



Updated:  8.7.23