May 05, 2016

Matthew Keefer named new education dean

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Matthew W. Keefer is the new dean of the College of Education and Human Services at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

The SIU Board of Trustees ratified Keefer’s appointment at its meeting today (May 5). Keefer, who has served in a number of teaching and administrative positions at the University of Missouri-St. Louis since 1996, will begin his new position July 1.  

“We are excited to have Dr. Keefer join our Saluki family,” Susan M. Ford, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said. “He was selected after a broad national search and he brings talent and experience to his new role of leadership of the CoEHS. We look forward to his positive influence on the success of this important college.” 

Keefer was initially hired at the University of Missouri-St. Louis as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor and department chair in 2002, serving in those roles until 2013. In 2014, he attained the position of professor of educational psychology in the Department of Educational Psychology, Research and Evaluation at UMSL. 

His work at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and proximity and familiarity with SIU and the region have prepared him well for his new role, Keefer believes. 

“Coming from the St. Louis area, I am well aware of SIU’s fine reputation so I am both honored and excited to have the opportunity to lead the CoEHS at this particular time in its history,” Keefer said. “Institutions of higher education have experienced considerable financial challenges in the past eight years and SIU is certainly no exception. My first goal is simply to learn more about the many ways the CoEHS fulfills its land-grant mission as a first step to better situating it to continue its success. I expect to develop a process that will allow us collectively to take advantage of opportunities and address challenges in a manner tailored to the present fiscal environment. As dean, I am also eager to work with college stakeholders to continue to build and strengthen our local and statewide community partnerships.” 

Keefer, a proponent of shared governance, said that like SIU, UMSL is a public research institution that is part of a larger university system. During his time there, he served several successive terms as department chair and chaired the Faculty Senate and University Assembly in 2008, around the time of the Great Recession. In addition, he served two terms, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, as chair of the campus budget and planning committee, helping oversee a budget of approximately $145 million. 

“These positions have provided opportunities for leadership on several strategic initiatives, as well as personnel and programmatic decisions, at all levels of the college, campus and UM University System,” he said. 

Keefer’s prior employment experience includes research and teaching positions at the Learning, Research and Development Center in Pittsburgh, Pa., at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., at Seton Hill College in Greensburg, Pa., and at McGill University. He was also president of Canalux Inc., a Canadian building products importer, from 1984 to 1988. 

Keefer completed his doctorate of philosophy in education at the University of Toronto and also holds a master’s degree in educational psychology and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. 

His research interests include professional ethics teaching strategies, moral reasoning and character education and professional development implementing problem-based learning programs. He is the recipient or co-recipient of numerous external research grants, including four National Science Foundation awards and three James S. McDonnell Foundation awards, and has numerous publications to his credit. 

Although Keefer was raised in Canada, he was already a U.S. citizen when he came to the U.S. for post-doctoral studies because his mother, from Macon, Ga., registered her children at birth as Americans.