WMU News

Trustees approve academic, athletic personnel changes

Nov. 1, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- The Western Michigan University Board of Trustees approved the appointments Oct. 27 of five people to lead various WMU academic units as well as the appointments of two athletic head coaches, whose names were announced earlier this year.

The board approved the appointments of: Dr. David G. Dickason as chairperson of the Department of Geography, effective Aug. 1; Dr. Paul E. Ponchillia as interim chairperson of the Department of Blind Rehabilitation, effective July 24 through June 30, 2001; Dr. Thomas H. Seiler, as interim director of the Medieval Institute, effective Aug. 7 through Dec. 10; Dr. Judith F. Stone as interim chairperson of the Department of History, effective Aug. 1 through June 30, 2001; and Dr. Earlie M. Washington as director of the School of Social Work, effective Nov. 27.

The board also approved the previously announced appointments of Jill Janek as the synchronized skating coach, effective Sept. 27, and Kathy Leitke as the softball coach, effective July 24.

Dickason has been a member of the faculty since 1966. An expert in geographic information systems, he has extensive research experience using that technology in such areas as water quality and land use. He has attracted substantial grant funding for his research and has published and presented the results widely. Dickason earned his bachelor's degree in 1960 from the College of Wooster, his master's degree in 1963 from the University of Pittsburgh and his doctoral degree in 1970 from Indiana University. He replaces Dr. Eldor Quandt, who has returned to the faculty and whose one-year sabbatical leave also was approved by trustees at the meeting.

Ponchillia 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 Elkhart County, Indiana. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1965 from Eastern Kentucky University and master's and doctoral degrees in 1967 and 1970 from Iowa State University. He also earned a 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 he is the organizer of sports and art camps for visually impaired youth. He replaces Dr. William Wiener, who was recently appointed senior associate dean of the Graduate College.

Seiler, a professor of English, has been a faculty member at WMU since 1970 and has served as managing editor of Medieval Institute Publications since 1978. Prior to joining the WMU faculty, he taught at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Toledo. He also has been a high school teacher in Northern Nigeria and in Greensburg, Pa. A specialist in medieval and British literature, Seiler earned his bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, his master's degree from the University of Toledo and his doctoral degree from the University of Texas. He replaces Dr. Paul Szarmach, whose four-month professional development leave also was approved by trustees at the meeting.

Stone, WMU's Mary U. Meader Professor of Modern European History, has been a faculty member at the University since 1986 and has served as her department's director of undergraduate studies. She also has taught at Reed College, Central Michigan University and in the State University of New York system at Stony Brook and at Empire State College. She is a specialist in 19th century French political culture, 19th century European history and gender in history. Stone earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from New York University and her doctoral degree from SUNY Stony Brook. She replaces Dr. Bruce Haight, whose return to the faculty also was approved by trustees Oct. 27.

Washington is currently director and associate professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she has been a faculty member since 1992. She also has taught at the University of Chicago, Illinois State University, and Tougaloo College. She also has served in a variety of roles such as director of the Life Skills Pre-employment Training and Counseling Program in Chicago and director of an elderly support project, also in Chicago. She has extensive experience directing funded grant and contract projects and is widely published on such topics as Internet-based instruction and behavioral programming for Alzheimer's clients. She earned her bachelor's degree from Tougaloo College and her master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago. She replaces Dr. Tracey Mabrey, who has been serving as interim director of the school.

The Board also approved the return to the faculty of two other department chairpersons. Dr. Hideko Abe, assistant professor of Asian and Middle Eastern languages, returned to the faculty Aug. 7 and Dr. Thomas Joyce, professor of paper and printing science and engineering returned to the faculty, effective June 30.

In related action, trustees approved the promotions of Dr. Willem Homan to professor in the College of Aviation and Dr. John Neil to professor of economics. They also approved a year-long professional development leave for Dr. Paula Brush, assistant professor of sociology.

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

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