This summer, School of Education (SOE) Dean and Distinguished Professor Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy began a sabbatical year. Two Acting Co-Deans fill her role until her August 1, 2024 return: Drs. Corbin M. Campbell and Rodney Hopson. Read their Welcome Message to the SOE community here.
Campbell is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and a Professor at SOE. Hopson, an American Educational Research Association (AERA) Fellow, is a former Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC), as well as a former Associate Dean for Research at George Mason University’s College of Education and Human Development.
“Co-deanships are a new model of leadership for some law schools and have been used to create sharing of responsibilities at the dean level for a temporary period of time,” stated Holcomb-McCoy. “I believe we have the perfect team for sharing the dean’s role for the year.”
Campbell said, “I am excited to partner with Co-Dean Hopson, who brings a wealth of prior experiences and expertise with fresh eyes for our leadership team this year. The co-dean leadership model allows us to draw upon a blend of institutional knowledge and innovative ideas. It is also an ideal framework for our antiracism aims as a school – where collaboration and humanizing relationships are at the center.”
Their shared experience as associate deans with notable specializations allows each co-dean to function as a point person for their area of expertise to carry out the responsibilities of the SOE Dean. Campbell manages faculty affairs, enrollment, and finance while Hopson leads research endeavors, development initiatives, and communications efforts.
Campbell's prior leadership role entailed leading the school's academic units to address the needs of faculty and students, including promoting faculty development and support; aiding processes for hiring, promoting, and reappointing faculty; facilitating curricular improvements; and enhancing antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
She is now the co-dean that supports enrollments and finances, working with SOE staffers Alex Ward, Director of Academic Administration, and Christopher Morgan, Director of Finance, Personnel, and Administration. Two faculty members join her in leading faculty affairs for the '23-'24 academic year: Dr. kecia hayes, Senior Professorial Lecturer, is the Acting Director of Faculty Development, and Dr. Carolyn Parker, Hurst Senior Professorial Lecturer, serves as the Acting Director of Academic Programs.
New to SOE, Hopson – an accomplished scholar, academic leader, and thought partner – oversees research, development, and communications, areas he has spurred in previous roles. Most recently, as part of the inaugural University of Illinois System Distinguished Faculty Recruitment Program, he was a driving force in the re-envisioning of the department’s evaluation unit, developing externally funded research and evaluation partnerships with and for doctoral students and leading assistant professor development efforts as a Dean’s Fellow in the College of Education at UIUC.
“I like the way that Dean Holcomb-McCoy conceived this plan of shared governance and practice. It is a nuanced model of leadership, one that highlights collaboration and communication. The structure is intended to ease the transition this year,” stated Hopson, who grew up in a family of educators. Following the return of Holcomb-McCoy, he will be the Senior Associate Dean of Research and a Professor for the school.
“I was attracted to the niche of American University and the intimacy of its community,” he said. “It isn’t a large or flagship public university, and our strength lies in our ability to reach folk and communities in authentic and transformative ways. It’s a place that feels right to me, and I am looking forward to thriving here as a catalyst for the realization of our mission and vision and an agent to transform education through our school’s antiracist and equity-focused pedagogies and practices.”
Holcomb-McCoy ardently reaffirms her selections. “SOE has two outstanding leaders this academic year,” she said. “Drs. Campbell and Hopson are different types of leaders. They complement each other, which is a strength for the school. Additionally, both are consistently committed to issues of social justice and equity, which are essential when employing an antiracist pedagogy.”