2019 ACADEMY PRESENTERS

John Cheslock

John Cheslock

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.

Steven Corey

Steven Corey

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.

Alicia Dowd

Alicia Dowd

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).

Walter Gmelch

Walter Gmelch

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.

Kimberly Griffin

Kimberly Griffin

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

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.

Neal Hutchens

Neal Hutchens

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

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.

Lance Kennedy-Phillips

Lance Kennedy-Phillips

Vice Provost for Planning and Assessment, Office of Planning and Assessment, Penn State University

Lance Kennedy-Phillips is the Vice Provost for Planning and Assessment.  As vice provost, he is responsible for leading the Office of Planning and Assessment (OPA). OPA provides leadership and support for four essential University functions: institutional research, learning outcomes assessment, accreditation, and strategic planning. Lance has over 20 years of experience in higher education administration. He has held positions at DePaul University, The University of Florida, The University of Illinois at Chicago, and The Ohio State University. While at Ohio State, Lance served as the founding Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Student Life. He has authored or co-authored 50+ publications on topics ranging from student success to the evolving role of institutional research in higher education. Lance earned his bachelor’s degree at Eastern Illinois University and his masters and doctoral degrees at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Lance is a native of Chicago, but is happy to call State College home with his wife Tonya and their three children Aidan, Katherine and Lilian.

Ajay Nair

Ajay Nair

President, Arcadia University

Dr. Ajay Nair, a nationally recognized expert in student affairs issues and an accomplished social justice, race, and ethnicity scholar, was inaugurated as Arcadia University’s 22nd president on October 13, 2018. Dr. Nair is the first person of color to be appointed president at Arcadia, and is among the first college or university presidents of Indian-American descent in the United States. 

At Arcadia, a national leader in international education, Dr. Nair supports a community of 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students and maintains the University’s strong commitment to liberal arts education. Since assuming his role on April 2, 2018, Dr. Nair has instituted Arcadia UKnighted, a presidential initiative and interactive forum for members of the University community to engage in dialogue and collaborate to enhance Arcadia. Campuswide working-sessions led to the establishment of a Budget Task Force, a Shared Governance Committee, and an Aspirational Committee.

In addition to leading Arcadia, Dr. Nair has served on a wide range of university and civic boards and organizations, including as director of the Division for Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice for NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education). At the 2018 NASPA Conference, Dr. Nair received the ​Dr. Doris Michiko Ching Shattering the Glass Ceiling awardfor his impact on the Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi American community through his leadership, service, and scholarship.

Dr. Nair serves on the editorial board of INSIGHT Into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity publication in higher education. His research interests include quality assurance in educational systems, service learning and civic engagement, and second-generation Asian American identity. Dr. Nair has published articles in media outlets such as the ​Huffington Post​ and InsideHigherEd​, and has contributed chapters to books including Global Philadelphia: Immigrant Communities Old and New. 

Dr. Nair’s current book project focuses on the state of multiculturalism in university communities and aims to present a new model for diversity and inclusion in higher education. His co-edited book, ​Desi Rap: Hip-Hop in South Asian America​, focuses on the complexities of second-generation South Asian American identity.

Dr. Nair also held executive leadership positions at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and the University of Virginia. In his distinguished career in higher education, Dr. Nair has held faculty positions at each of the aforementioned universities, as well as the World Language Institute in Kwangju, South Korea.

Dr. Nair earned a Doctor of Philosophy and a Bachelor of Science from Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Nair is married to Paayal Nair, a school psychologist and graduate of the Pennsylvania State University and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. They have a son, Krishna Nair, and a daughter, Rani Nair.

John Nash

John Nash

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.

Leticia Oseguera

Leticia Oseguera

Associate Professor of Education (Higher Education), Penn State University

Leticia Oseguera is an Associate Professor and Senior Research Associate in the Higher Education Program and the Center for the Study of Higher Education in the Department of Education Policy Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. She received her Master’s and Doctoral Degree from the Higher Education and Organizational Change Program from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Prior to Penn State, Dr. Oseguera was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at the University of California, Irvine where she also earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. She has taught courses on research design, educational policy, multicultural education, issues in K-16 schooling, and student development in higher education.

Dr. Oseguera is a quantitative researcher with a substantive focus on campus climate and understanding college access and educational opportunities for historically underserved and underrepresented student populations, including college student athletes. Dr. Oseguera’s work examines how gender, race, and class shape educational experiences and opportunities in the United States. Her work bridges secondary schooling experiences with post-secondary opportunities and success. Her work offers academics and policymakers concrete ways to enhance credential attainment. Her co-edited book, Educational Policy Goes to School: Case Studies on the Limitations and Possibilities of Educational Innovation was recently published by Routledge Press.

Dr. Oseguera’s research has been cited in articles in the Washington Post, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education and appears in such journals as Research in Higher Education, Journal of Higher Education, Urban Review, and Journal of Hispanic Higher Education. Recently, Dr. Oseguera completed a UC ACCORD funded research project examining low-income students’ post-high school education and labor market transitions.  Dr. Oseguera was also the Principal Investigator of a Pennsylvania Department of Education grant examining college access centers throughout the state. Currently, Dr. Oseguera is co-evaluator of the inaugural Millennium Science Scholars Program at Penn State. She is also leading the evaluation of the NSF National Research Traineeship CoMET Program at Penn State.

Dr. Oseguera is an active member of multiple professional organizations. She is also an editorial board member for the American Journal of Education and Journal of Higher Education. She is a former Faculty Fellows Chair of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) and former Board Member of AAHHE. She is also a former Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) Fellow for Pennsylvania.

Karen Paulson

Karen Paulson

Associate Professor & Coordinator of Online Programs, Penn State University

Karen Paulson is an associate professor and coordinator of online programs for Higher Education at Penn State. She came to Penn State after 19 years of working with state and institutional policymakers at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) in Boulder, Colorado. Her areas of expertise include assessment, evaluation, accreditation, and the use of data; she has worked at nearly 60 postsecondary institutions and in 45 states. Most recently she has authored: Progress towards transparency in higher education;a chapter in Assuring Quality in Online Education: Practices and Processes at Teaching, Resource, and Program Levels with Cali Morrison and Russ Poulin (2013); “Faculty Perceptions of General Education and the Use of High-Impact Practices” in Peer Review (2012); and Down and in: assessment practices at the program level with Peter Ewell and Jillian Kinzie (2011). Paulson holds engineering degrees in addition to her higher education study. Her Ph.D. is in Higher Education with a minor in Policy Analysis from The Pennsylvania State University.

Crystal Ramsay

Crystal Ramsay

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.

Susan Russell

Susan Russell

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.

Jim Trainer

Jim Trainer

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.

LaWanda Ward

LaWanda Ward

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.

Suzanne Weinstein

Assistant Vice Provost for Learning Outcomes Assessment, Office of Planning and Assessment, Penn State University

Dr. Weinstein received a Ph.D in psychology from The Pennsylvania State University in 1999. Between 2002 and 2016, Weinstein worked at the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence where she supported faculty activities related to course- and program-level assessment. She also conducted several University-wide assessment projects during that time period. In August 2016 she joined the Office of Planning and Assessment where she contributed to the development of a revised University-wide learning outcomes assessment process.  In her current role, which she has occupied since October 2017, she is responsible for maintaining and advancing the learning outcomes assessment process across Penn State for undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs. She co-chairs the Faculty Senate Standing Committee on General Education Assessment and chairs the University Committee on Assessment of Learning.

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