L.E.A.D. group photo

Chancellor Austin Lane with several faculty and staff from throughout campus who are participating in the inaugural “Leading, Empowering, Advocating and Developing” cohort. The initiative identifies, engages and mentors a select group of faculty and staff interested in learning more about higher education leadership and the complexities of operating a public university in today’s world. (Photos by Russell Bailey)

October 14, 2021

Talented faculty, staff chosen for university’s L.E.A.D initiative

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Eighteen talented faculty and staff from throughout campus are participating in the inaugural cohort of the L.E.A.D. SIU Carbondale Initiative. 

L.E.A.D. stands for Leading, Empowering, Advocating and Developing talent for the university. The initiative identifies, engages and mentors a select group of faculty and staff interested in learning more about higher education leadership and the complexities of operating a public university in today’s world.

“We are fortunate to have talented people at SIU Carbondale,” said Chancellor Austin Lane. “We want to provide them with professional development opportunities. It is beneficial to them and to the university. L.E.A.D. will foster the retention of a strong, effective work force while nurturing opportunities for professional growth and leadership within the university for the years ahead.” 

The inaugural cohort, which will meet monthly through May, gathered Sept. 29 for a reception and luncheon in the Chancellor’s Faculty-Staff Lounge at Old Main. The monthly roundtable discussions with the chancellor will focus on higher education topics impacting SIU Carbondale. There will be required reading assignments, and the group will be invited to attend one professional development conference with the chancellor during the year. 

Topics during the monthly meetings could include such areas as: 

  • Budgeting. 
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Organizational structures.
  • Career ladders.
  • Governance and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
  • Fundraising and development.
  • Marketing and branding.
  • Athletics.
  • Institutional assessment and research (Power BI dashboards). 

Faculty and staff who are in the inaugural L.E.A.D. cohort are: 

Ryan-Campbell-sm.jpgRyan Campbell, associate director and interim curator of collections, Center for Archaeological Investigations (CAI) and adjunct assistant professor, Department of Anthropology. Campbell has been with SIU Carbondale in various capacities since January 2008, and participates as a mentor in the Research-Enriched Academic Challenge (REACH) and SI Bridges to the Baccalaureate programs. 

Campbell serves as principal investigator (PI) and co-PI on nearly all of the CAI’s state and federal grant projects, leading teams of researchers as they conduct investigations into the lives of people who lived in North America between the Paleoindian period and the early 20th century.  This research provides experiential learning opportunities for current and former SIU students. 

As interim curator for the CAI, Campbell oversees a curatorial staff charged with preserving and caring for the material remains from archaeological sites. Much of this work involves collaborating with Indigenous communities to return important archaeological discoveries to their lineal descendants.  

Elizabeth-Cheek-sm.jpgElizabeth Cheek, administrative aide, Facilities and Energy Management, Grounds Maintenance. Cheek advises and provides support to the superintendent of grounds, grounds foremen and the director of Facilities and Energy Management on various administrative and organizational issues. She has been with SIU Carbondale since 2001, serving in various roles for Facilities and Energy Management, including building services, personnel/payroll, and grounds maintenance units. Cheek also spent a few months working for Student Health Services Administration. 

Cheek has been a Civil Service Council member since 2002 and has served as the vice president since 2017. She worked as a contract tracer for the Perry County Health Department from January to May 2021 and has been working in the same position for the Jackson County Health Department since June. A second-generation Saluki, Cheek earned an associate in applied science in radiologic technology. She earned a bachelor’s degree in university studies in 2020.  She said she is excited for the professional development opportunity to “develop additional skills needed to continue to make a positive contribution to my alma mater at a higher level.” 

Cara-Doerr-sm.jpgCara Doerr, recruitment and retention coordinator, College of Health and Human Sciences (CHHS). Among her many duties, Doerr plans, develops, coordinates, executes and assesses enrollment management and student affairs initiatives for 51 graduate and undergraduate degree programs, minors and certificates within the college. She has 16 years of experience working in higher education with about 10 of those at SIU Carbondale in a variety of roles within undergraduate admissions, enrollment management and continuing education. She is a two-degree SIU Carbondale alumna, including a Ph.D. in educational administration. 

CHHS Dean Robert Morgan notes that Doerr, is “always one of the first amongst my team to volunteer to take on tasks and duties that fall outside of her role as a recruiting and retention coordinator.” 

Mike-Eichholz-sm.jpgMike Eichholz, professor, zoology and avian/wetland ecologist/researcher with the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory and the School of Biological Sciences. Eichholz, who has been at SIU Carbondale since 2002, has received more than 55 grants from various agencies totaling nearly $5.5 million. Eichholz and his students have also contributed over 190 presentations at various professional meetings, published 47 peer-reviewed articles in professional journals and authored 4 chapters for various topical books, said Gary Kinsel, professor and interim vice chancellor for research. 

Eichholz has served on both the Graduate Council and Faculty Senate and held leadership positions in both organizations. Eichholz is also active within the community, having served as a merit badge counselor for the Boy Scouts of America and a moderator for the Illinois Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. He has made numerous presentations to citizen and student groups in the region in his area of research specialization. 

Michelle-Kibby-sm.jpgMichelle Kibby, professor, School of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences and director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Kibby has been with SIU Carbondale since 2004 and is a fellow with the National Academy of Neuropsychology. Yueh-Ting Lee, SIU Senate Faculty president and professor in the School of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences, notes that Kibby is “a leader in her field,” securing two National Institutes of Health grants and being a reviewer for NIH, plus other organizations and for many journals across multiple fields. Kibby has served two Faculty Senate terms, including serving on the Executive Council. 

Since taking over as CASD director, Kibby “is working toward developing interprofessional practice and education at the center, as well as fundraising,” Lee said. “She has launched a Brown Bag series related to interprofessional education including multiple departments and programs, and she has applied for several foundation grants to support their efforts in developing research on interprofessional practice.” 

Justin-McDaniel-sm.jpgJustin McDaniel is an associate professor of public health, School of Human Sciences with a joint appointment as an associate professor in the Department of Neurology, Dale and Deborah Smith Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment, SIU School of Medicine. McDaniel has been with SIU since 2017, and in that time, published more than 80 peer-reviewed articles and secured more than $800,000 in external grant funding, notes Julianne P. Wallace, School of Human Sciences director. McDaniel has “excelled in research, teaching and service” and "epitomizes the faculty member that we need to foster for the future of SIU.” McDaniel was a graduate teaching and research assistant in the Department of Health Education and Recreation at SIU from 2013 to 2016 and earned his doctorate in health education from SIU in 2016. 

Wallace added that McDaniel has presented his research at more than 50 national and international conferences and regularly publishes and presents with students. She explains McDaniel’s productivity level “is clearly a remarkable record for someone so early in their professional career” and resulted in an early promotion to associate professor in 2020.   

Dianah-McGreehan-sm.jpgDianah McGreehan is a doctoral student in the School of Communication Studies. McGreehan is currently the president of the Graduate and Professional Student Council and the co-chair of the SIU System Student Advisory Board. The SSAB advises the SIU president and the SIU board of trustees on “matters that concern students across the system campuses and serves as a mechanism for student collaboration,” notes Gireesh Gupchup, the SIU System vice president for academic innovation, planning and partnerships. McGreehan has also assumed leadership roles in Graduate Assistants United and the Chancellor’s Diversity Task Force. Most recently, McGreehan co-chaired the planning committee for the 2021 SIU Carbondale Diversity Week. 

Gupchup stated he believes McGreehan “will be a future leader at SIU and investing in her capabilities will behoove us.” David DiLalla, then-associate provost, also noted McGreehan’s “commitment to service in support of her fellow graduate students and to the university community” while a graduate student and graduate assistant. 

Shannon-Newman-sm.jpgShannon Newman, information technology manager, IT Business Services department. Among her many duties, Newman manages computer contracts with Dell and Apple, coordinates the bulk computer program for SIU Carbondale and the SIU School of Medicine, negotiates technology pricing with various vendors, and orders, receives and coordinates product delivery throughout campus. Newman has been with Office of Information Technology since 2014 and is secretary for the Civil Service Council. She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and an MBA in finance from SIU. 

Scott Bridges, interim assistant provost and chief information officer, notes that Newman has been a “rock star within IT and on campus,” adding that Newman was directly involved in securing 100 laptops to be distributed to students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bridges said he recently assigned Newman to work with other universities from around the state on a combined Dell and Adobe purchase model per the initiative from the state presidents and chancellors group and has “the utmost confidence in her abilities to represent SIU at the statewide level.” 

Sandy-Pensoneau-Conway-sm.jpgSandy Pensoneau-Conway, associate professor and unit chair in the School of Communication Studies and since August 2020 the interim director of the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies program. A three-degree Southern Illinois University System alumna, Pensoneau-Conway was a student in the speech communication graduate program from 1999 to 2006 and joined SIU Carbondale in 2012. Michael Molino, associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts, wrote Pensoneau-Conway is “consistently a serious and dedicated administrator who has the best interests of SIU students and faculty at the forefront of her efforts.” 

Molino notes Pensoneau-Conway, the university’s 2021 Faculty and Staff Excellence Award Emerging Leader recipient, has received numerous teaching, research and service awards from unit level to the national level. Pensoneau-Conway “would like to give more focused attention to the importance of diverse leadership, including learning how to build organizations that are dependent upon diverse leadership at multiple levels within the organization,” Molino wrote. 

Ryan-Redner-sm.jpgRyan Redner, associate professor and program director, behavior analysis and therapy within the School of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences. Redner has been at SIU Carbondale since 2015, where he began as an assistant professor before his promotion in 2019. He currently has nearly 40 publications and has received “continuous contract and grant support” while at SIU, wrote Yueh-Ting Lee, SIU Senate Faculty president and a professor in the School of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences. 

Lee noted that Redner stepped into the program coordinator role in early 2020 “where he has thrived as a leader using data to make important program decisions,” led the accreditation self-study and is creating a new online minor that “capitalizes on the synergies created by the merger with the psychology department.” Lee also noted a belief that the L.E.A.D. program “provides a great opportunity” for Redner to continue his development as a leader at SIU. 

Jean-Pierre-Reed-sm.jpgJean-Pierre (J.-P.) Reed, associate professor in the Department of Sociology, joined the university as an assistant professor in 2009 and was promoted to associate professor in 2015. He is also affiliated with the philosophy and Africana studies programs. Reed’s primary research and teaching interests include the sociology of revolutions, social movements, theory, politics and religion, culture, sociology of race relations, racial inequality and critical race theory. He is a founding member and vice president of the university’s Hispanic/Latino Staff Faculty Council. William Danaher, professor of sociology, nominated Reed and believes he will “especially contribute to SIU’s efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.”  

Lana-Rizzo-sm.jpgLana Rizzo, assistant instructor, automotive technology. Rizzo, a three-degree alumna of SIU, is working on her doctorate in education administration and higher education. She came to SIU in 2018 with more than 12 years of automotive experience in various positions at local dealerships and stores. Eugene Talley, interim director in the School of Automotive, said Rizzo’s “desire to continue to learn and be an active faculty person looking to make SIU Carbondale a better place makes her an excellent candidate to be part of the L.E.A.D. program.” 

Rizzo is an active adviser for the automotive program’s Women in Automotive Transportation Technology registered student organization and the College of Health and Human Sciences’ Diversity and Inclusion Committee. 

Markida-Roper-sm.jpgMarkida Roper, coordinator, Project Upward Bound, has been with SIU Carbondale since 2009, when she started as a family community specialist with the Head Start program. She came to Project Upward Bound as a field contact specialist in 2010 and was promoted to coordinator in 2015. She is a three-degree SIU System alumna, including earning master’s degrees in social work and rehabilitation services from SIU Carbondale. 

Renada Greer, assistant dean of students and director of Trio Support Services, notes Roper is responsible for recruiting 50 to 60 students per year from Carbondale to Cairo and “has given her time and effort to foster a program that inspires, empowers and motivates high school students to succeed.” Roper has served as the adviser to Greek and registered student organizations and mentors students. She is a member of the Carbondale Elementary School District 95 school board. 

Tatiana-Sherrill-sm.jpgTatiana Sherrill, safety officer III, Center for Environmental Health and Safety joined the center’s Occupational Safety Section in 2012 as a safety officer I and promoted to safety officer II two years later. Debra Sarvela, CEHS director, notes Sherrill “sought out professional development opportunities and ways to advance her knowledge base formally and on her own.” 

She earned a Master of Public Health degree from SIU in 2018 with a promotion to safety officer III a short time later, “incorporating what she has learned to create efficiencies while looking for ways to be more innovative in providing safety training, for example,” Sarvela said. 

Among her many duties, Sherrill inspects buildings, facilities and work operations to determine adequate safety and health measures, coordinates safety and health programs with related departments and academic units and participates in community outreach activities. Sherrill also works with outside agencies such as the Department of Labor and the Jackson County Local Emergency Planning Committee. 

Joseph-Sramek-sm.jpgJoseph Sramek, history, came to SIU as an assistant professor in 2007 and was promoted to associate professor in 2013. Michael Molino, associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts, notes that Sramek is a faculty member “who has shown dedicated service to SIU students through his service and teaching contributions” and will make a “significant contribution” to the L.E.A.D. initiative. That includes being active at the college, university and state level on various committees. He is the history program coordinator in the School of History and Philosophy and the program’s director of undergraduate studies. His is also an adviser for the Phi Alpha Theta history club, Model UN, and SIU’s chapter of the United Nations Association. Lastly, he serves on the SIU Faculty Senate, where he is co-chair of the Undergraduate Educational Policy Committee this academic year. 

Stacy-Thompson-sm.jpgStacy Thompson, professor, early childhood, School of Education. Thompson has been with SIU since 2005 beginning as an assistant professor. She was promoted to associate professor in 2010 and professor in 2017. In 2020, Thompson was selected for the role of undergraduate programs director for the School of Education. Her numerous activities include being on the board of the Illinois Council on Family Relations since 2016. M Cecil Smith, dean of the School of Education, notes that to be a leader in higher education it’s not enough to be smart or hardworking, but “you have to have the abilities to be strategic and to also manage and solve sticky problems.”  

Thompson exhibits all the attributes and is entrepreneurial in thinking about how to grow and market academic programs, Smith said. In addition to loving teaching large sections of classes, Thompson has been “very effective in nurturing our partnerships with local schools and regional offices of education, really helping us rebuild some of those relationships that had been neglected,” he notes.  

Haibo-Wang-sm.jpgHaibo Wang, professor, School of Electrical, Computer, and Biomedical Engineering and biomedical engineering program director. Wang has been with SIU since 2002, beginning as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 2007 and professor in 2013 and is one of only two faculty members in the College of Engineering, Computing, Technology and Mathematics who have received the NSF CAREER Award, according to Xiaoqing “Frank” Liu, professor and dean. Wang has served as the principal investigator or co-principal investigator in 21 externally funded projects with a total research expenditure of about $3.4 million and published 32 peer-reviewed journal papers and 37 articles in peer-reviewed conference proceedings. 

The L.E.A.D. initiative “provides an excellent opportunity to nurture outstanding faculty members, like Dr. Wang, for professional growth and leadership within our college and the university,” Liu noted. 

Stacia-Weinhoffer-sm.jpgStacia Weinhoffer, senior business manager, College of Health and Human Sciences. Weinhoffer has been with SIU Carbondale since 2008 and in her present job since September 2021, where she is responsible for supervision of all business matters in the CHHS dean’s office and the overall budget. Nominated for her role at Property Control, Weinhoffer was responsible for the day-to-day management of the office, including duties relating to the inventory of university equipment and maintaining inventory records. Other duties include coordination of the campuswide perpetual fixed asset inventory and participating in development of required procedures to ensure compliance with state and university policies relating to property control. Weinhoffer also has experience at SIU as administrative aide and office manager with the Center for Environmental Health and Safety, office manager for SIU first-year and exploratory student advisement and records manager/office support specialist with the university’s undergraduate psychology office. 

Loren Cook, a business/administrative associate with the vice chancellor for administration and finance, notes Weinhoffer is a “major contributor to the VCAF area” and that she recently completed a master’s degree in public administration.