2020-2021 ACADEMY PRESENTERS
Associate Professor in Higher Education, Penn State University
John J. Cheslock is an associate professor in the Education Policies Studies department at Penn State University. Dr. Cheslock obtained his Ph.D. in Labor Economics from Cornell University in 2001, where he served as a research assistant at the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute (CHERI). From 2001-2009, he was on the faculty of the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona. He currently serves as a consulting editor for Research in Higher Education and on the editorial boards of the Review of Higher Education and Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Dr. Cheslock’s research focuses on how funding challenges affect public higher education institutions in a variety of areas. In recent research, he has examined how financial concerns influence institutional financial aid offerings, faculty compensation, intercollegiate athletics, and instructional productivity.
President, Olivet College
Steven M. Corey, Ph.D., joined Olivet College as its 27th president in December 2010. Prior to Olivet, Dr. Corey served as executive vice president of Prescott College in Prescott, Ariz. During his tenure at Prescott, he was responsible for directing all aspects of the college’s administrative and operational policies, objectives and initiatives. He also managed Prescott’s financial policies as chief financial officer.
Prior to joining Prescott College, Dr. Corey held the position of Fellow for Administrative Collaboratives with the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA). Prior to TICUA, he spent 10 years with Cumberland University, where he held the positions of vice president for administration, vice president for athletics and director of sports medicine, and was a member of the teaching faculty.
In 2006, Dr. Corey was appointed by Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, and then subsequently reappointed by Governor Jan Brewer, to serve on the Arizona State Commission for Postsecondary Education. He served as chair of the commission for three years. Dr. Corey was also an active member in the community where he served in leadership on several boards, including president of the Central Arizona Land Trust, chair of the City of Prescott’s Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Open Space, and as a board member of the Sunup Rotary Club of Prescott.
He holds a doctorate in higher education finance from the University of Arizona, a Master of Business Administration from Cumberland University, a Master of Science from Arizona State University, and a Bachelor of Science from California State University at Fresno. Dr. Corey’s full biography can be found online.
Professor of Education, Penn State University; Director, Center for the Study of Higher Education
Alicia C. Dowd is a Professor of Education and Director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the Pennsylvania State University. She currently serves as the associate editor of the Review of Educational Research (RER), a top-ranked journal in the field of education. Prior to joining the Penn State College of Education faculty in January of 2016, Dowd was a professor at the University of Southern California. At USC, she co-directed the Center for Urban Education (CUE) from 2009-2015 and was instrumental in developing the Equity Scorecard, CUE’s signature action research process.
Dowd’s scholarship revolves around the study of organizational learning and change towards racial equity in higher education. An action researcher, Dowd utilizes cultural historical activity theory, critical race theory, and a broad array of methodological approaches to investigate topics related to organizational change, accountability, and the factors affecting student experiences, persistence, and degree attainment in postsecondary settings.
Her research has been funded by the Spencer, Ford, Gates, Hewlett, Lumina, Nellie Mae, and Jack Kent Cooke Foundations as well as the National Science Foundation. Her published works have appeared in the Review of Educational Research, Harvard Educational Review, Review of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education, and Teacher’s College Record, among other publications.
Dowd is a frequent speaker and panelist to address the topics of diversity and equity. She has provided Congressional testimony on diversity in STEM to the House subcommittee on Research and Science Education and addressed the topic of “Developing supportive STEM community college to four-year college and university transfer ecosystems” at a convening of the National Academies of Sciences (NAS). She presented research findings on equity in mathematics education to the National Academies’ Board on Testing and Assessment, Assessing Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Competencies Committee, and the National Academy of Sciences Committee on “Developing indicators for undergraduate STEM.” She also served as a reviewer of NAS’s panel consensus report on Building America’s Skilled Technical Workforce, a major review of the diverse array of providers and standards of education in the complex career and technical education sector, and of proposals submitted to the Inclusive Excellence grant competition of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).
Professor of Organization and Leadership and former Dean of the School of Education (University of San Francisco) and former Dean of the College of Education (Iowa State University)
Walter H. Gmelch is a professor of leadership studies at the University of San Francisco, where he previously served as Dean of the School of Education for nine years. Formerly he was Dean of the College of Education at Iowa State University and served in the roles of Dean, Associate Dean, Department Chair and Professor at Washington State University. He also directs the National Center for Academic Leadership at Iowa State University. He earned a PhD in the Educational Executive Program from the University of California (Santa Barbara).
Dr. Gmelch has conducted research and written extensively on the topics of leadership, team development, conflict, and stress and time management. He has published numerous articles, books, and scholarly papers in national and international journals. He is author of three books on team leadership with Val Miskin (Chairing an Academic Department; Leadership Skills for Department Chairs; and Productivity Teams: Beyond Quality Circles), three on Academic deans, and two on management and stress (Coping with Faculty Stress and Beyond Stress to Effective Management). In 2004 Walt and fellow IAE member John Schuh edited the volume entitled the Life Cycle of the Department Chair.
Dr. Gmelch serves as editor of two journals and on the editorial board of several other journals including The Department Chair, Innovative Higher Education, Academic Leadership, and the Center for Academic Leadership Newsletter.
Dr. Gmelch has received numerous honors including a Kellogg National Fellowship, the University Council for Educational Administration Distinguished Professor Award, the Faculty Excellence Award for Research, and the Education Press Award of America. In addition, he served in the Danforth Leadership Program and as an Australian Research Fellow. Dr. Gmelch’s full biography can be found here.
Associate Professor of Higher Education, Student Affairs, and International Education Policy, University of Maryland
Dr. Kimberly A. Griffin is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland. Prior to becoming a faculty member, she served as a higher education administrator and student affairs professional, working in undergraduate and graduate admissions, promoting diverse and hospitable learning environments, and new student orientation. These professional experiences have greatly informed her work as a scholar, and her research focuses on three core topics: the persistence and success of underserved students; diversity within the Black community; and mentoring and developmental relationships. Professor Griffin is a recognized scholar in the area of higher education access and equity research. She has published her work widely in multiple outlets, and is frequently invited to speak at national meetings and conferences. She was the recipient of the 2013 Early Career Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education, and was identified as an Emerging Scholar by ACPA, College Student Educators International, in 2010. After completing her undergraduate work in Psychology at Stanford University, Dr. Griffin received her Master’s degree from the University of Maryland. Her doctoral work in higher education and organizational change was completed at UCLA.
Mary Lou Higgerson
Vice President of Academic Affairs Emeritus, Baldwin Wallace University
Mary Lou Higgerson is the recipient of eight teaching awards including being named Distinguished Teacher in 1997 at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She is a seasoned academic administrator with more than thirty-five years of experience with service at both large, public doctoral granting and small private, liberal arts institutions, and has held administrative appointments at every level of the institution from department chair to system office. From 2005 through spring of 2012, she served on the Board of Trustees at Elmhurst College.
Higgerson holds a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas where she studied and conducted research in organizational communication. Her selection as an American Council on Education Fellow in 1986-87 propelled her to move her consulting and research interests from the corporate world to higher education administration. Combining her knowledge of communication with her administrative experience, Higgerson’s focus in her writing, consulting, and professional development activities is on leadership communication as it supports effective leadership at all levels of higher education administration. Kansas State University presented Mary Lou Higgerson with the Bill E. Cashin Distinguished Service Award for “Outstanding Service to the Academic Chairpersons Conference and the Study of Academic Administration.”
Since 1990, she has taught on a variety of leadership communication topics for the American Council on Education in national and campus leadership seminars offered through the Center for Leadership Development. Higgerson has authored Communication Strategies for Managing Conflict: A Guide for Academic Leaders (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2016), Communication Skills for Department Chairs (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1996), co-authored Effective Leadership Communication: A Survival Guide for Department Chairs and College Deans (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2007), co-authored The Administrative Portfolio: Practical Guide to Improved Administrative Performance and Personnel Decisions (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2002), and co-authored Complexities of Higher Education Administration: Case Studies and Issues (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1993). She worked with Irene Hecht and Walt Gmelch to write The Department Chair as Academic Leader (ACE/Oryx Press, 1999). She has co-produced training videos on communication strategies relevant for higher education administrators and has written articles that have appeared in such publications as The Chronicle of Higher Education, Journal of College and University Personnel Association, Continuing Higher Education Review, and The Department Chair.
Professor of Higher Education, University of Mississippi
Neal H. Hutchens is professor of higher education at University of Mississippi. Dr. Hutchens earned a Ph.D. in education policy with a specialization in higher education from the University of Maryland. He earned his J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law, where he graduated summa cum laude and was a member of the Order of the Coif and was also a member of the Alabama Law Review. Dr. Hutchens’ research centers on law and policy issues in higher education. He is a member of the author team (along with William A. Kaplin, Barbara A. Lee, and Jacob H. Rooksby) for the upcoming sixth edition of The Law of Higher Education, the leading higher education legal treatise. Dr. Hutchens was the 2015 recipient of the William A. Kaplin Award from the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University College of Law. He serves on the Litigation Committee for the American Association of University Professors and is also on the Board of Directors for the Education Law Association.
Royel M. Johnson
Assistant Professor in Higher Education, Penn State University
Dr. Royel M. Johnson is Assistant Professor of Education (Higher Education) within the Department of Education Policy Studies at The Pennsylvania State University, where he is also Research Associate in the Center for the Study of Higher Education. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and Ed.M. in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs, with a cognate in Race and Social Policy from Ohio State.
Dr. Johnson is a social scientist whose interdisciplinary research aims to improve the educational opportunities, experiences, and outcomes of historically underserved and vulnerable student populations in education. He maintains an active scholarly research agenda, addressing important policy- and practice-relevant issues related to college access, equity and success; student learning and development; and impact of college on students, to name a few. He is co-editor of a forthcoming book on HBCUs, and has authored over 25 scholarly publications including peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and reports. His work employs qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methodological approaches.
Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Director of Graduate Studies, University of Kentucky
John B. Nash is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership Studies. He teaches a range of courses on school technology leadership, design thinking and research methods. His current research agenda investigates how technology, innovation and policy interact and influence schools and educators in different contexts. John is also a director of the UCEA Center for Advanced Study of Leadership for Technology in Education (CASTLE) and the Laboratory on Design Thinking in Education (dLab).
John is the former Associate Director for Evaluation at the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning (SCIL), where he conducted applied research on improving program evaluation in grant-funded initiatives, and the former Associate Director of Assessment and Research at the Stanford Learning Laboratory, where he examined the effects of innovative technologies on learning. He was also a grant maker for the Wallenberg Global Learning Network, an arm of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation of Stockholm, Sweden, focused on enhancing learning outcomes through educational technology in the U.S., Sweden and Germany.
Faculty Programs Manager, Teaching and Learning with Technology & Affiliate Assistant Professor of Education, Penn State University
Crystal Ramsay is faculty programs manager with Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) at Penn State. Previously, she worked as a research associate and instructional consultant at Penn State’s teaching center, the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence. Dr. Ramsay is also an affiliate faculty member in Educational Psychology at Penn State as well as a member of the Graduate Faculty. In her current role she leads and supports research and faculty development efforts around TLTs strategic initiatives including blended learning, experimental learning spaces, and open educational resources. She has expertise in faculty development, assessment, curriculum design, and teaching and learning in higher education.
Associate Professor of Theatre, Penn State University
Susan Russell is in her thirteenth year at Penn State, where she is an Associate Professor in the Penn State School of Theatre. She is an Associate Director of the Center for Pedagogy in Arts and Design where she creates and implements interdisciplinary curricula using arts-based techniques and cutting-edge technology. Susan enjoyed a 25-year career on and off Broadway and in regional theatre and opera companies across the country, left show business in 2002 for an MA/PhD Theatre Studies program at FSU, and was hired by Penn State in 2006. As a playwright, her works Olympia(1998) and Present Perfect(1999) have been produced by Emerging Artists Theatre and Lincoln Center in New York City, her play Severe Clearwas a semi-finalist in the 2006 O’Neill Theatre Center Playwriting Competition. Her 2009 play Ecoute: Pieces of Reynaldo Hahn, has toured to 40 college and university campuses across the country, and Susan is working on the libretto to a new opera called Leavings, which will debut at Penn State in April of 2019. Susan is the author of Body Language: Stop the Violence/Start the Conversation, and BodyLanguage: Cultural Conversations Reaching Out and Reaching and in 2014, Russell was appointed as The 2014-2015 Penn State Laureate for her work in social justice and women’s empowerment.
Associate Vice President and Executive Director, Office of Planning & Institutional Research, Villanova University
Jim Trainer is an Associate Vice President and Executive Director of the Office of Planning and Institutional Research at Villanova University in suburban Philadelphia. Jim has been with Villanova for 16 years and previously served as Director of Planning and Assessment and as a Special Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Jim teaches in both Villanova’s Masters in Public Administration program (MPA) and Penn State’s World Campus Institutional Research Masters program. He earned his PhD in Higher Education from Penn State in 1993 with a concentration in Educational Psychology and an emphasis on evaluation, research design, and measurement. He is a Past President of both the North East Association for Institutional Research (NEAIR) and the Association for Institutional Research (AIR). Jim frequently serves as a visiting evaluation team member for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and served on the MSCHE task forces which recently revised the accreditation standards as well as processes. He is a published author, a regular conference and workshop presenter, and a consultant for a variety of institutions and organizations. Jim is a faculty member/facilitator for the Institute for Administrators in Catholic Higher Education (IACHE) and was a founding member and past and present board member for the Catholic Higher Education Research Cooperative (CHERC). He has served on a number of boards of directors including on the Board of Trustees at Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture (DVC – now, University), his undergraduate Alma Mater, for 16 years serving as Chair for seven of those years.
Assistant Professor of Education, Penn State University
Dr. LaWanda Ward’s commitment to social justice, equity, and inclusion in higher education is influenced by her family of educators. Her mother, a 1st grade teacher for almost 30 years, who marched during the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Ward’s research agenda centers on critically analyzing legal issues in higher education including race-conscious admissions, free speech, and academic freedom.
For over 20 years prior to joining the professoriate, Dr. Ward served as a student affairs educator in various roles. She was introduced to higher education administration as a residence life graduate assistant and later as a residence hall director at Illinois State University and Old Dominion University, respectively. As Director of Pro Bono & Public Interest at her alma mater, Indiana University McKinney School of Law, Dr. Ward coached law students and alumni seeking traditional and non-traditional legal careers. Additionally, she established and maintained productive working relationships with community agencies to ensure law students received rewarding and challenging opportunities to gain pro bono experience.
Previously, Dr. Ward was an Assistant Professor at Ohio University. She earned a PhD in Higher Education and Student Affairs with an Interdisciplinary Minor in Socio-Legal Perspectives on Race & Gender in Higher Education from Indiana University, JD from Indiana University McKinney School of Law, MS in Educational Administration from Old Dominion University, MA in Political Science from Illinois State University, and a BA in Political Science from Murray State University.