WMU News

Associate dean and other appointments announced

July 12, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- The appointments of an associate dean, two department chairpersons and an academic program director were among personnel moves approved by the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees at its July 6 meeting.

The board approved the appointments of Dr. Alexander J. Enyedi as interim chairperson of the Department of Biological Sciences, effective July 1 through June 30, 2002; Dr. James A. Leja for a new term as associate dean of the College of Health and Human Services, effective July 1; Dr. Paul E. Ponchillia as professor and chairperson of the Department of Blind Rehabilitation, effective July 1, 2001; and Dr. Benjamin C. Wilson as professor and director of the Africana Studies Program, effective July 1 through June 30, 2004.

Enyedi, a faculty member since 1993, is a specialist in plant physiology and an active researcher who has received numerous grants and published more than 30 abstracts and journal articles on his work. He was the recipient of a 2000 WMU Alumni Teaching Excellence Award. Enyedi came to the campus from Rutgers University's Center for Agricultural Molecular Biology, where he served as a post-doctoral research associate from 1991 to 1993. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Guelph's Ontario Agricultural College in 1981, a master's degree from the University of Guelph in 1985 and a doctoral degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1991.

Leja, who is currently serving as associate dean for graduate and international education in the College of Health and Human Services, was first appointed to the post in 1997 and re-appointed in 1999. He has been a faculty member in WMU's Department of Blind Rehabilitation since 1986. He served as a Fulbright Scholar/Lecturer in Taiwan for the 1994-95 academic year after previously serving two stints in that nation as a visiting professor. Leja earned bachelor's and master's degrees from WMU in 1976 and 1979, respectively, and a doctoral degree from Southern Illinois University in 1989.

Ponchillia, who has been serving as interim chairperson of his department since last July, has been a WMU faculty member since 1978. Prior to joining the faculty, he taught at Northern Illinois University and was a rehabilitation teacher in Indiana's Elkhart County. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1965 from Eastern Kentucky University and master's and doctoral degrees in 1967 and 1970, respectively, from Iowa State University. He also earned a second master's degree in 1976 from WMU. Ponchillia is the co-author of "The Foundations of Rehabilitation in Teaching with Persons Who are Blind or Visually Impaired," and is the organizer of sports and art camps for youths with visual impairments.

Wilson, a faculty member since 1975, will head the Africana Studies Program created by the WMU Board of Trustees May 30. Prior to coming to WMU, he was a faculty member at General Motors Institute, now Kettering University, and a graduate assistant at Michigan State University. His research over the years has covered such topics as the black experience in rural Michigan and Idlewild, the famed black resort community in West Michigan. He has traveled extensively, visiting such African nations as Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana in the past decade. At WMU, he founded and directs an annual music minifestival that explores music styles ranging from jazz and hip hop to gospel and blues. He earned a bachelor's degree from Benedictine College and master's and doctoral degrees from Michigan State in 1972 and 1974, respectively.

In related action, the board also approved a series of leaves for faculty members. Professional development leaves were approved for Dr. Dina Bangdel, assistant professor of art, whose leave began July 1 and lasts through Aug. 4, 2002; and Ruth E. Noblett, academic career specialist in the Department of Business Information Systems, whose leave will begin Aug. 6, 2001 and will last through Aug. 4, 2002.

A one-year personal leave of absence was approved for Dr. Gwendolyn Etter-Lewis, professor of English. She will go on leave Aug. 15, 2001, through Aug. 15, 2002. Sabbatical leaves also were approved for Dr. J. Kevin Corder, associate professor of political science, for the fall 2001 semester; and for Dr. Delores D. Walcott, associate professor in the University Counseling and Testing Center, for the 2001-02 academic year.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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