Candidates to head education college visiting campus

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News
Photo of Western Michigan University sign.

Education college candidates will present June 7-13.

KALAMAZOO—Western Michigan University officials have announced the names of five candidates for the position of dean of the College of Education and Human Development, who will visit campus June 7-13 to meet with faculty, staff and students and make public presentations.

During the visits, each candidate will make a public presentation from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in 2020 Fetzer Center. They will discuss how they will build community among the college's diverse constituents while addressing the opportunities and challenges currently faced by the college.

The finalists, their current positions and the days and dates of of their presentations are:

  • Dr. Sandra Cooley Nichols, head of the University of Alabama Department of Special Education and Multiple Abilities, Friday, June 7.
  • Dr. Page Smith, professor of education and associate dean for graduate studies and administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Monday, June 10.
  • Dr. Sherwood Thompson, professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the Eastern Kentucky University College of Education, Tuesday, June 11.
  • Dr. Karin Jordan, professor and chair of the Department of Counseling at the University of Akron, Wednesday, June 12.
  • Dr. Ming Li, interim executive director of the Ohio University Center for International Studies, Thursday, June 13.

The successful candidate will replace Dr. Walter L. Burt, who has served as interim dean since 2012.

Sandra Cooley Nichols

Cooley Nichols has been at the University of Alabama since 2010, where she oversees delivery of degree and certification programs, facilitation of partnerships with state and local education agencies, communication of department activities to stakeholders, and alignment of department activities with university and college policy. Prior to that, she was on the faculty of the University of Memphis in the Department of Instruction and Curriculum Leadership Development from 1999 to 2010, serving as interim chair during her final year there. While at Memphis, she also served as special education program coordinator for three years, associate professor of special education from 2005 to 2010 and assistant professor of special education from 1999 to 2005.

Earlier in her career, Cooley Nichols taught at McNeese State University and worked at the State of Mississippi Department of Health and the University of Southern Mississippi, where she earned her bachelor's and doctoral degrees in 1992 and 1998, respectively. She earned a master's degree in 1994 from the University of Memphis. Her background also includes teaching and counseling for family services, the juvenile justice system and a residential youth home.

Page Smith

Smith has been on the faculty of the University of Texas since 2001, serving as associate dean since 2006. As associate dean for graduate studies and administration, he is responsible for the execution, promotion and development of doctoral and master's programs in the College of Education and Human Development. He also has served as doctoral program committee chair and graduate advisor of record and professor, associate professor and assistant professor of education. He was a visiting professor, a Novice G. Fawcett Scholar, graduate research assistant and graduate administrative and teaching assistant at Ohio State University, as well as an adjunct professor of political science and history at Wright State University.

He also was a social studies teacher and district departmental chairperson for social studies for the Celina City School District in Celina, Ohio, from 1978 to 1997. Smith earned a bachelor's degree at Wright State University in 1978, a master's degree at the University of Dayton in 1983 and master's and doctoral degrees at Ohio State University in 2000. He also served an internship at the Education and Research Institute in Washington, D.C.

Sherwood Thompson

Thompson served as assistant dean at the University of Eastern Kentucky College of Education from 2008 to 2012, where he supervised the Teacher Education Services Office, Curriculum and Instructional Department, Special Education Department, Kentucky Educational Collaborative for State Agency Children, Southeastern Kentucky Migrant Education Program, AmeriCorps and college instructional programs. He also developed academic policies and programs for the college and directed curriculum activities. Also at EKU, Thompson was executive director of the Model Laboratory School from 2008 to 2012 and director of teacher admissions and certification for four years.

Prior to coming to EKU, he was director of multicultural student services at the University of Wisconsin-Stout from 2004 to 2006. His background also includes work as: an education consultant for Relationships Innovations Inc., in Lawrenceville, Ga.; director of the Office of Minority Services and Programs for the University of Georgia; director of the Office of Minority Affairs and Multicultural Resource Center; and director of the Office of Third World Affairs at the University of Massachusetts. Thompson earned a bachelor's degree from the University of South Carolina Upstate in 1980, and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1989 and 1990, respectively.

Karin Jordan

Jordan has been professor and chair of the Department of Counseling at the University of Akron since 2007, overseeing four master's programs, three doctoral programs and the Center for Individual and Family Counseling. She previously was associate professor, professor and chair of the Graduate Department of Counseling at George Fox University from 2001 to 2007, overseeing four master's programs, two certificate programs and two counseling training centers. Earlier, Jordan was assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and served in several capacities at the University of Colorado at Denver, including assistant professor, senior instructor, and clinic and practicum director.She also was assistant clinical director, therapist and supervisor of the Cross-Cultural Center at the Cross Keys Counseling Center in Atlanta, Ga.

Jordan began her professional life as a registered nurse. She earned a bachelor's degree from Colorado Christian College in 1987, a master's degree from Rollins College in 1989 and a doctoral degree from the University of Georgia in 1992.

Ming Li

Li has been interim executive director of the Center for International Studies since 2012, serving as Ohio University's senior international officer. He also has filled a wide range of other administrative posts at the university. He was chair of the Department of Sports Administration for two years, acting associate dean for academic affairs for the College of Health and Human Services for a year, director of the School of Recreation and Sport Sciences from 2002 to 2010, and director of the master's program in athletic administration in the School of Recreation and Sport Sciences from 2003 to 2010.

Prior to joining the Ohio University administration, he was graduate coordinator of sport management and undergraduate coordinator of sport management in the Georgia Southern University Department of Sport Management. He earned a bachelor's degree from Guangzhou Sport University in China in 1983, a master's from China's Hangzhou University in 1986, and a doctoral degree from the University of Kansas in 1992.

For more information including candidate vitae, visit