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New Leadership Roles in School of Education [07/12/2017]


Baylor School of Education has announced new leadership roles for several faculty members, including the appointment of an interim dean.

Baylor University Interim Provost Michael K. McLendon, Ph.D., has appointed Terrill F. Saxon, Ph.D., professor of educational psychology and associate dean for research and graduate education, as interim dean of the School of Education, effective immediately. Saxon earned his B.A. in psychology and M.S. in educational psychology from Baylor and his Ph.D. in educational psychology at the University of Kansas.

Saxon has served in several administrative roles in the School, including stints as department chair in educational psychology from 2001 to 2008 and from 2015 to 2017 and service as interim associate dean for academic affairs and faculty development from 2005 to 2006. He also directs the master’s programs in educational psychology. In the role of associate dean, his focus is on Ph.D. programs and research.

Read more on Saxon in the Baylor Media story.

Additionally, several faculty members in the Baylor School of Education (SOE) have taken on added leadership roles. McLendon, who served as School of Education dean before taking on the interim provost role, said the changes will leverage the expertise of faculty members for the benefit of the school, thereby broadening Baylor’s impact.

Leadership appointments in the School of Education:
Tony Talbert, Ed.D. — associate dean for strategic initiatives
Susan K. Johnsen, Ph.D. — interim chair, Department of Educational Psychology
Brooke Blevins, Ph.D. — associate chair, Department of Curriculum & Instruction
Rishi Sriram, Ph.D. — associate chair, Department of Educational Leadership

Tony Talbert, Ed.D., professor and assistant chair in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, will begin in the fall as associate dean for strategic initiatives. He will focus particularly on initiatives that transcend department boundaries or partner with other university units or entities beyond Baylor, including international partners, designing strategies for impactful learning and research opportunities through all partnerships.

With a focus on social and cultural studies education and qualitative research, Talbert has published more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and collaboratively obtained more than $2.8 million in funded research. Talbert was the recipient of the 2014 McGraw-Hill Distinguished Scholar Award for his contributions to qualitative research in the field of education.

Talbert’s 30+ years of experience as an educator include time as a public high school teacher, educational specialist and consultant for the Texas Education Agency, professor, associate dean, department chair and graduate program director. Talbert has taught at Sam Houston State, Mississippi State, and the University of Houston, in addition to Baylor. In 2013, after a 20-year absence from the public school classroom, Talbert returned to a local high school to teach world history to 10th graders. His experiences have been capture in both academic journal and popular press articles.

“Tony is one of our School’s finest teachers and best ambassadors,” McLendon said. “He is uniquely positioned to bring his creativity and passion to strategic planning for the School.”

Susan K. Johnsen, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and director of programs related to gifted and talented education, has been named as interim chair of the department. Johnsen has served as graduate program director for Educational Psychology and associate dean of scholarship and professional development for the School.

A well-respected expert and researcher in gifted education, Johnsen has received more than $3.5 million in grants and contracts. She was the 2014 recipient of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Outstanding Leadership Award. It was the first time the CEC award was presented to a scholar in the field of gifted education.

Johnsen serves as editor-in-chief of Gifted Child Today and has authored more than 250 articles, monographs, technical reports, chapters and books related to gifted and special education. She has written three tests for identifying gifted students, which are used nationally and internationally. She is also a frequent presenter at state, national and international conferences and has made more than 100 invited presentations since 2010. She holds a Ph.D. in special education and educational psychology and M.Ed. in special education from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. from Baylor.

“One of the Schools’ most distinguished faculty members of recent decades, Susan brings a deep knowledge of contemporary currents in the field and a profound commitment to Baylor,” McLendon said.

Johnsen is past president of The Association for the Gifted (TAG), Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), and Texas Association for Gifted and Talented (TAGT).­ Her numerous awards and accolades also include the National Association for the Gifted and Talented (NAGC) President’s Award, TAG’s Leadership Award, TAGT’s President’s Award, TAGT’s Advocacy Award and Baylor University’s Investigator Award, Teaching Award, and Contributions to the Academic Community.

Two faculty members, Brooke Blevins, Ph.D., and Rishi Sriram, Ph.D., have been named associate chairs of their respective departments. They will collaborate with department chairs at both operational and strategic levels, providing support in critical initiatives as departments launch new programs, hire faculty and restructure some existing programs. They will also help with the flow of communication between departments and the dean’s office.

Brooke Blevins, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction and coordinator of the Social Studies Education Program, is associate chair of the department, serving with chair Larry Browning, Ed.D. She also serves as co-director for the iEngage Summer Civics Institute, for which she and co-founder Karon LeCompte, Ph.D., have raised more than $150,000 in grant funding.

Blevins also holds several national leadership roles, including chair-elect of the College and University Faculty Assembly (CUFA) of the National Council for the Social Studies, the leading professional association in social studies education. Blevins was also chair of the national conference program for CUFA in 2016, and she serves as the book and media review editor for Theory and Research in Social Education. At Baylor in 2012, she helped found the Baylor Women’s Colloquium, an organization dedicated to examining issues of gender in research, teaching, and policy.

Blevins’ scholarship appears in the main social studies journals, including Theory and Research in Social Education, Journal of Social Studies Research, Democracy and Education, Social Studies Research and Practice and Social Education. Blevins has won awards for her research including the 2013 Jon Laska Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Association of Curriculum and Teaching and the 2011 Best Paper Award from the AERA Research in Social Studies Education SIG for her work with SSIRC. Recognized for her outstanding teaching, Blevins was recently named a 2017-2018 Baylor University Faculty Fellow. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and her M.A.T. and B.A. from Trinity University.

“In Brooke, the School of Education has found a generous, enthusiastic and highly esteemed colleague, who has distinguished herself at Baylor as a gifted and effective teacher and whose scholarly productivity and promise have marked her as a ‘rising star’ in her field nationally,” McLendon said.

Rishi Sriram, Ph.D., associate professor of higher education and student affairs and graduate program director for the Department of Educational Leadership, is associate chair of the department, serving with chair Robert C. Cloud, Ph.D. Sriram is also faculty steward of Brooks Residential College, a living-learning community of approximately 400 students. He holds a Ph.D. in higher education from Azusa Pacific University and M.S.Ed. and B.A. from Baylor.

He was selected to serve on the Baylor Provost’s Diversity Committee, the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, and as Chair of the Faculty-in-Residence Council. Nationally, he serves on the executive team of the newly formed Residential College Society.

Sriram’s research interests include student affairs practice; collaboration between academic and student affairs; and college student retention, engagement, achievement, and learning. His work has been published in respected journals such as the Journal of College Student Development, the Review of Higher Education, the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, and the Journal of College Student Retention.

He has received several national and regional grants for his research. He speaks at conferences or consults with colleges across the United States on issues pertaining to student affairs administration, college student success, living-learning initiatives, and talent/success. His first book, Student Affairs by the Numbers (Stylus Publishing), helps student affairs professionals understand and use quantitative research and statistics in their work.

“Rishi’s scholarship is original, timely, well conceptualized, tightly focused and yielding of crucial insights for student-affairs administrators at all types of colleges and universities,” McLendon said. “He has become recognized within his field as a talented, rising scholar who is poised to make important contributions in the study of higher education.”

For media coverage, please contact Meg Cullar:   •   254-710-6435

For more news from Baylor School of Education, visit the Instant Impact home page.


Founded in 1919, Baylor School of Education ranks among the nation’s top 20 education schools located at private universities. The School’s research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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