New interim dean fills shoes at School of Education

By Chase Myers, @chasemyers_DE

Lyle J. White, professor and counselor education coordinator in the College of Education and Human Services, has been named interim dean for the school effective July 1. 

White will serve from six months to a year depending on when a permanent dean is hired, he said. 

He has worked as chair of the department of educational psychology and special education from 2002 to 2013, as well as winning various awards over his 26-year career at SIU.

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“As department chair, you work pretty close to the dean so every once and a while, you think to yourself, ‘If I were dean, how would I do that?’” White said. “I had those thoughts so this is a chance to see what I can do as dean.” 

Shortly after leaving his Navy post in Norfolk, Va., about 45 years ago, White utilized his bachelor’s degree in psychology to work as a counselor at an elementary school, he said.

“Working at the tail end of mental health issues, I really wanted to find something I could do that was more preventative,” White said. 

He began working at SIU in 1989 as assistant professor in educational psychology and as a staff member at the Clinical Center.

White will be taking over the position of Keith Wilson, who stepped down on June 30, to continue teaching students at the collegiate level. 

“I’m going back to the faculty, so that will be a nice treat for me quite frankly,” Wilson said. “It will be student centered and all that good stuff.” 

Wilson held the position from July 2012 to June 2015. Among the accomplishments during his tenure, he has helped increase equal gender representation among the school’s faculty, staff and Executive Council by 23 percent from 2011 to 2013, as well as move the school from 77th to 59th in graduate program rankings nationally.

“I think the elephant in the room is the budget for the state of Illinois, SIU and many educational systems in Illinois,” Wilson said. “The budget situation and how to deal with that … I think will be one of his first priorities.” 

Despite various budget cuts the school has been forced to endure during the last two years, the College of Education and Human Services has been able to decrease unnecessary debt, sending the college in the right direction, he said.

“My goal is to, at the minimum, set things up for the next person so we can identify some things that people in the college want to do to make this a good place to work,” White said.

White said he wants to give the faculty a chance to participate in the future image of the college and focus on strengthening the connection between the school and the community.

He also wants to bolster the college’s status in the university, he said. 

White has no intention of applying for a permanent position as dean of the school at this time, he said.

“You never know what’s around the next bend in a person’s life,” he said. “You have to be careful in saying something that’s absolute that could change when the circumstances change.”

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