Deans

What does it mean to be an academic leader in the most competitive higher education market in the United States? It takes expertise, discipline, strategy, collaboration, skill, and a passion for learning.

Interim Dean Val Leiter

College of Social Sciences, Policy, and Practice

Dr. Val Leiter is the Dean of College of Social Sciences, Policy, and Practice. Interim Dean Leiter teaches courses on medical sociology, research methods, food, drugs, and epidemiology—these topics dovetail with her research on children and youth with disabilities, medicalization, medical devices, and gender and health. She has received multiple teaching awards, most recently, the Toby Sloane Award for Undergraduate Teaching in 2019 and the Simmons College Dean’s Award for Exceptional Undergraduate Advising in 2010.

Dean Marie desJardins

College of Organizational, Computational, and Information Sciences

Dr. Marie desJardins is the Dean of the College of Organizational, Computational, and Information Sciences. In this role she will lead collaboration among faculty and other stakeholders in pursuing the growth and development of College programs and initiatives, align an interdisciplinary collaboration that increases pathways from undergraduate to graduate study in growing fields, and promote a culture of research and scholarly productivity through innovative teaching and engaged learning. Prior to joining Simmons, Dr. desJardins served as Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County's College of Engineering and Information Technology, where she oversaw multiple assessment activities, including leading a successful re-accreditation of four undergraduate engineering and computing undergraduate curriculum. A career educator, Dr. desJardin has published over 100 scientific papers in journals, conferences, and workshops. Her research is in artificial intelligence, focusing on the areas of machine learning, multi-agent systems, planning, interactive AI techniques, information management, reasoning with uncertainty, and decision theory. Dr. desJardins graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts in engineering and computer science, and earned her PhD in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dean Brian Norman

Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities

Dr. Brian Norman is the Dean of the Ifill College. He is a scholar of American and African American literature, professor of English, and academic administrator who most recently served as Associate Vice President of Faculty Affairs and Diversity at Loyola University in Baltimore, MD. He has taught a wide range of courses in literature and culture, and he founded Loyola's program in African and African American Studies. His research projects engage with questions of identity, belonging, justice, and the relationship between literature and social change. Dr. Norman is a distinguished scholar who has written or edited several books; his most recent are Neo-Segregation Narratives: Jim Crow in Post-Civil Rights American Literature (University of Georgia Press 2010) and Dead Women Talking: Figures of Injustice in American Literature(Johns Hopkins University 2013). He recently spent his sabbatical as a research fellow at the Dresher Center for the Humanities at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Dr. Norman earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in environments studies, women's studies, and French from Pacific Lutheran University, and an MA and PhD in English from Rutgers University.

Interim Dean Kelly Hager

Undergraduate Program

Dr. Kelly Hager, Interim Dean of the Undergraduate Program and Professor of English and Women's & Gender Studies, is an accomplished scholar and an award-winning teacher. As Interim Dean of the Undergraduate Program, she is for responsible for the Simmons General Education Program:  PLAN  — Purpose, Leadership, ActioN. She previously served as the chair of the English and of the Women's & Gender Studies departments and as the director of the graduate program in Gender/Cultural Studies.

Her research and teaching interests focus on Victorian literature, children's literature, reading practices, and gender history. She is the author of of Dickens and the Rise of Divorce: The Failed-Marriage Plot and the Novel Tradition (2010, pb 2017), which was chosen by CHOICE as a highly recommended book. She co-authored the Instructor's Guide for the Norton Introduction to Literature and co-edited a special issue of Victorian Review on "Extending Families." Dr. Hager has also contributed invited pieces to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature, the Oxford Handbook of Children's Literature, Keywords for Children's Literature, BRANCH (Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History), and The Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature (Wiley-Blackwell). Her current research examines the gendered history of reading, in theory and in practice.

Dr. Hager has been at Simmons since 2001, teaching in the departments of English and Women's & Gender Studies, in the undergraduate Honors Program, and in the graduate programs in English, Children's Literature, and Gender and Cultural Studies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Rice University and a PhD in English from the University of California, Irvine.

Dean Lepaine Sharp-McHenry

College of Natural, Behavioral, and Health Sciences

Dr. Lepaine Sharp-McHenry is the Dean of the College of Natural, Behavioral, and Health Sciences. In her new position, Dr. Sharp-McHenry will lead faculty in promoting and strengthening innovative teaching and engaged learning, build a culture of research and scholarly productivity, enhance programs within and across disciplines both inside CNBHS and in partnership with other deans across the university, and work to cultivate innovative practices and procedures required to advance the world’s scientific future and save lives. CNBHS encompasses the Departments of Behavioral Analysis, Biology, Chemistry & Physics, Nutrition, Physical Therapy, and Psychology, and houses Simmons’ nationally recognized School of Nursing. Prior to her role at Simmons, Dr. Sharp-McHenry has served as Dean of the College of Nursing at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, OK.  Prior to that, she was at the University of Arkansas for 15 years, first as a faculty member and later as the Assistant Director of the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing. Nationally, she has served on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and as a site visitor on accreditation teams for the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).  She has also received official recognitions of her expertise at a state level, including several appointments by the Governor of the State of Arkansas.