CARBONDALE, Ill. — M Cecil Smith will become the dean of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s reorganized School of Education on July 13 pending approval of the SIU Board of Trustees.
Smith is currently graduate program coordinator and professor in the Department of Learning Sciences and Human Development within the College of Education and Human Services at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Meera Komarraju, SIU’s provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, says Smith brings deep experience to the position.
“Our students, faculty and staff will benefit from his extensive teaching, administrative and research experience in the field of education,” she said. “His expertise, experience at two different universities, collaborative synergy and focus on student success will ensure that we continue preparing excellent teachers.”
Smith served as associate dean for research and graduate education at West Virginia from 2013 to 2018 before assuming his current position with the university.
His new position at SIU marks a return to Illinois. Between 1988 and 2013, Smith held various positions at Northern Illinois University, beginning as an assistant professor in educational psychology, counseling and special education. He subsequently served as a faculty associate in gerontology, fellow in the Social Science Research Institute, associate professor and professor. He also served as acting co-director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Study of Language and Literacy at NIU.
During those years, Smith said he became familiar with SIU and its academic reputation through family members and colleagues who are alumni or who have worked at the university. Now, he is very eager to be dean of the School of Education during the reorganization transition.
“I am delighted to be asked to serve as the first dean for the new School of Education,” Smith said. “I thank interim Chancellor Dunn and Provost Komarraju for placing their trust in me to lead the School—particularly during this very difficult time,” he said. “I am eager to work with the School of Education leadership team, faculty, and staff to help our students to be safe and healthy. As we do so, we will ensure that they receive a rigorous education that prepares them for careers and lifelong learning opportunities with the ability to thoughtfully participate in our democratic society.”
Smith has a strong record as a researcher and has launched academic centers. He said he has been successful in working collaboratively with faculty, students and staff, both as a faculty member and administrator. He added that he is eager to continue to work in unison with others at SIU to position the university as a leader in the field of education.
“This is my vision, my mantra for SIU’s School of Education: ‘Always learning, always leading,’” Smith said. “My goal is to work with the faculty and staff to assure we have a high-quality, rigorous program and that we position SIU as THE leading school for students who want to obtain a teaching degree.”
Smith said he also wants to revitalize and enhance the school’s existing community partnerships and establish new relationships.
Smith has something in common with many SIU students.
“I was a first-generation college student, and I appreciate that many students at SIU Carbondale are also the first in their families to attend college,” he said. “As my college education opened new pathways for me that led to countless opportunities for growth, I am confident that the same will hold true for our students.”
Smith completed his doctorate in educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also holds a master’s degree in post-secondary/agency counseling with emphasis in adult development from the University of Kansas in Lawrence and a bachelor’s in education – English/secondary from Wichita State University.
Smith’s research work, particularly in the areas of adult learning, literacy and continuing education, has been extensively published.
“I’m very eager to get to campus and I look forward to working with the faculty and staff, launching new initiatives, revitalizing programs and welcoming students back in the fall,” Smith said.