Faculty & Staff

ELA Faculty

Dr. Robert Cipriano
Robert Cipriano

Dr. Cipriano received his doctor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation with a cognate specialization area of College Teaching from New York University. He has written 5 textbooks, contributed chapters in 3 additional textbooks, and has published more than 180 journal articles and manuscripts. His book titled Facilitating a Collegial Department in Higher Education: Strategies for Success, has been extremely well received throughout institutions of higher education. His most recent 2 books, titled A Toolkit For Department Chairs and A Toolkit for College Professors, were published in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Both books, co-authored with Jeffrey Buller, consist of practical advice in view of the fact that effecting departmental leadership isn’t learned by reading about strategies and guiding principles. It’s learned by applying those strategies and principles in real situations and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Dr. Cipriano has received more than $9 million in federal and state grants and contracts from the US Department of Education. He has been selected as an expert reviewer to assess federal grants to the US Department of Education on 16 separate occasions. Cipriano has been invited to deliver more than 260 presentations in the US, Asia, and the Middle East. He has conducted research and written extensively on the topics of civility and collegiality, managing conflict, chairs’ perceptions of important factors to consider in personnel decisions regarding faculty, including individuals with disabilities in higher education, and an ongoing study regarding the changing roles and responsibilities of academic leaders. He served as a department chair for 28 years. Cipriano is a Senior Partner in ATLAS – Academic Training, Leadership & Assessment Services, an internationally acclaimed consulting firm specializing in academic leadership training: rciprianor1@atlasleadership.com


Dr. Rhonda Dean Kyncl
Rhonda Kyncl

Dr. Rhonda Dean Kyncl received both her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma in Composition, Rhetoric, and Literacy. She also earned an M.S. degree in Technology and Business from Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas. She currently serves as the Associate Dean for Students in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Oklahoma, where she oversees academic advising, study abroad, and student engagement programming for the college. She also oversees the college’s Withrow Leadership Scholars program and teaches English Composition I and II, Writing for the Medical Fields, as well as a Capstone course for the college.

Dr. Dean Kyncl oversees a staff of 15 advisers and other support staff and is a 2011 alum of the Educator’s Leadership Academy.

Dean Kyncl’s husband, David, is also a staff member at OU as an adviser and recruiter in the OU College of Architecture. They have two children: Mary, who is a senior in the College of Education at OU, and Jonathan, who is a first-year student in the Gaylord College of Journalism.


Dr. Lee Johnson, CPA
Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson serves as the Senior Vice President and Treasurer for Siena Heights University. He is a native Midwesterner with a history of active involvement in public and private postsecondary education.

Dr. Johnson received his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration with a Minor in Law from The University of Toledo, a Masters of Business Administration concentrating in economics from Bowling Green State University, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration majoring in Finance from The Ohio State University. He completed post-graduate education at Harvard University and The Ohio State University. A certified public accountant, he is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and both the Ohio and Michigan societies for certified public accountants.

A respected Peer Reviewer and Team Chair for the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), he also served the Institutional Actions Council and Mentor for new Peer Reviewers and Team Chairs. Lee served on or chaired over two (2) dozen Institutional Actions Council meetings or Hearings, in addition to serving as a member or chair of over 40 institutional visits, including comprehensive, focused, substantive change, advisory, and sanction-related visits. In 2007, he helped HLC create the financial review panel, which is responsible for assessing institutions under financial distress. With his contemporary insights and understanding of best practices and good judgments, he is often called upon for advice and consultation. Dr. Johnson was elected to HLC’s Board of Trustees effective September 1, 2018.

Lee has a high-quality reputation as a highly effective and personable executive with a strong commitment to higher education. His resourcefulness includes focusing on organizational change, strategic planning, cultivating partnerships, fostering the use of website and social media intelligence, reviewing undergraduate and graduate programs, and improving upon the efficiencies of support services. He has led and participated in a variety of planning processes as well as overseen or assisted with a wide range of capital expansion programs. These experiences have afforded him opportunities to interact with campus communities; to receive valuable advice; to engage differences; to achieve consensus in support of larger purposes; and to look long-term.

Lee is a family man with three adult children and enjoys taking batting practice with Siena’s Teams, jogging, and skiing.


Dr. Jana Legako
Jana Legako

As a licensed attorney and human resources professional, Dr. Jana Legako holds a unique perspective on how to effectively coach leaders in using "best practices" to manage their workforce while complying with federal and state laws. Her career spans more than 25 years and has given her the opportunity to work in the three branches of Oklahoma education: common education, careertech and higher education. She thoroughly understands the challenges and opportunities facing leaders as they manage an ever changing workforce. Dr. Legako delivers practical advice for quickly addressing performance and conduct issues, documenting efforts, and mitigating chances for legal litigation. Recently, she accepted the position of Personnel Analyst for the City of Oklahoma City’s Utilities Department – a department that employees over 750 individuals and has a multi-million dollar budget.

Dr. Legako received her Juris Doctor degree from Oklahoma City University, where she was recognized as top student for Employment Law and Evidence. Also, she is certified as a Title IX coordinator/investigator by the National Association of Colleges and Universities. Because of her contribution to the CareerTech system, Dr. Legako was awarded the 2007 Arch Alexander Award, one of Oklahoma's most prestigious CareerTech awards.

Dr. Legako has a Master of Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and a Bachelor of Science from Oklahoma State University.


Dr. David Macey
J. David Macey

Dr. Macey, Assistant Vice PResident of Global and Cultural Competencies at the University of Central Oklahoma, has served as both the assistant chair (three years) and chair (eight years) of UCO’s Department of English. He has been a central figure in campus efforts to increase diversity, including key leadership roles in UCO’s first comprehensive study of diversity, the Diversity Action Team and the Diversity Implementation Group. He is a leading architect of the newly initiated Women’s Research and BGLTQ+ Student Centers, as well as the longtime advisor of the Student Alliance for Equality (SAFE).

His scholarship includes the co-edited, five-volume Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature, as well as multiple scholarly articles. Dr. Macey has hosted international faculty delegations for initiatives including the collaborative doctoral studies program between UCO and Swansea University. He has taught more than two-dozen courses and seminars and encouraged numerous faculty-led study tours as chair of the English Department.

Dr. Macey received his B.A. from Yale University, an A.M. at Brown University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. He has been the recipient of the Modeling the Way Award, the Neely Excellence in Teaching Award, the Division of Student Affairs' Faculty Advisor of the Year Award, the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice's Oklahoma City Humanitarian Award and the Cimarron Alliance's Torch Award.


Dr. Scott Newman
Scott Newman

During his postsecondary career, Newman has held faculty, mid- and senior-level leadership positions. From 2001 to 2013 he served as founding Dean of the School of Information Technologies at the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Institute of Technology. He currently serves as the University’s Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Newman holds master’s degrees and a doctorate from The University of Oklahoma, the University of Oxford and OSU, respectively. He is a Peer Reviewer for The Higher Learning Commission, and a former Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Fellow and American Council on Education Fellow. Newman has been honored for his contributions to and through higher education—including identification as one of the nation’s top technology leaders by Computerworld, and selection to receive the American Association of University Administrators' McInnis/Ryan Award for Mid-Career Higher Education Leadership.

Newman’s diverse scholarly interests include postsecondary innovation and leadership. Recent publications include articles in Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education, and a higher education leadership textbook.


Dr. Lynn Priddy
Lynn Priddy

Lynn Priddy, Ph.D., is Provost and Chief Academic Officer of National American University, assuming that role in 2013 after fourteen years with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the nation’s largest regional accreditor. While at the Commission, she served as Vice President for Accreditation Services with responsibilities for accreditation processes, including institutional change and decision processes, peer review, education and training, and improvement demonstration projects, including the Lumina grant to explore competency-based education and the Degree Qualifications Profile. As the constant voice for innovation in student learning, engagement, and assessment, Dr. Priddy was the creator and founding director of the Academies for Assessment of Student Learning and Student Persistence and Completion. At National American University, Dr. Priddy oversees all aspects of the educational enterprise, including associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Her focus has been on transformation of entry processes and remedial education to serve working adults, as well as integration of general education and proficiency-based education. She previously served as vice president, director of assessment, and English faculty at Nicolet Area Technical College. She consults nationally and internationally on institutional quality, assessment of student learning, excellence in curricula and pedagogy, and organizational innovation and change. Dr. Priddy is a summa cum laude graduate of the State University of New York at Geneseo with a B.A. in English, a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with an M.A. in English; and a summa cum laude graduate of Capella University with a Ph.D. in Higher Education.


Dr. Charlotte Simmons
Charlotte Simmons

Dr. Charlotte Simmons is the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, former Dean and Department Chair of the College of Mathematics & Science, and Professor of Mathematics & Statistics, at University of Central Oklahoma. Dr. Simmons earned a B.A. in English and Mathematics at Texas A&M University - Commerce, a M.A. in Mathematics at the University of North Texas, and a Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Oklahoma. While in graduate school, she assisted with the Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at OU. She wrote her dissertation in the area of finite hyperbolic geometry. Her current research interests include coding theory, cryptology, and the history of mathematics. Last year, one of her undergraduate students presented at a national conference on the history of mathematics. UCO Provost Barthell and Dr. Simmons organize an interdisciplinary undergraduate seminar on the history and nature of mathematics and science each spring.


Dr. Gary Steward
Gary Steward

Dr. Steward was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. He moved to Oklahoma in the early 1980s. After several occupational changes, he returned to college in 1988, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) in sociology and criminal justice administration and management respectively. He completed his Ph.D. (sociology) in 1999 from Oklahoma State University.

Dr. Steward has served UCO in multiple roles. In 1997, he was hired as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. One year later, he was hired into a full-time faculty position. During his tenure in the department, he was involved in the assessment of student learning, program evaluation, and strategic planning.

In 2004, Dr. Steward was appointed assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Then in 2005, he was selected as the associate dean of the college, serving in that role for eight years. In 2012, he was appointed the dean of the college. After serving as dean of the college for three years, Dr. Steward was the successful candidate in his current position as associate vice president for Institutional Effectiveness.

Although Dr. Steward has been serving UCO in full-time academic administration since 2005, he has never left the classroom. He has developed several courses that have a wide-spread appeal to the broader campus. These courses are routinely offered during the fall, spring, and summer semesters, as well as the spring and summer intersessions.

Dr. Steward’s research interests includes death and dying, religion (notably, new religious movements), collective behavior/social movements, and qualitative methods.


Dr. Shanna Teel
Shannon Teel

Shanna R. Teel is the Founder and CEO of Dr. Shanna Teel & Company, Inc., a performance consulting and coaching firm. In Dr. Teel's career, she has been a partner and executive for two organizational and leadership development consulting firms. She holds a dual Ph.D. in organizational psychology and clinical psychology, coupled with more than 12 years as a consultant, executive coach, and facilitator of adult learning.

She specializes in the areas of executive and leadership development, executive and management coaching, career development, strategic planning, conflict management, diversity training, team building, group dynamics, communication skill development, negotiation, mediation, and business development.

She has provided organization development consulting, team development, and individual coaching for executives and managers in the following organizations: Citigroup; Kodak; Nokia; Fugihunt, USA; Deloitte & Touche; TA Instruments; Eiasi Pharmaceuticals; McDonald's; St. Luke's Health Network; Interwoven; ARM; Victoria's Secret; Barclays Global Investors; Devon Energy; Vitas Hospice; The Braille Institute; University of Oklahoma; Oklahoma Heart Hospital; University of California San Diego Hospital.


Dr. Christy Vincent
Christy Vincent

Dr. Christy Vincent is a Professor in the Mass Communication Department at the University of Central Oklahoma where she teaches organizational and strategic communication courses. Her research interests include conflict management, mediation, change management, executive coaching, and training and development. Her interest in conflict management led her to the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine University School of Law where she earned a Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). She has received the Vanderford Engagement Award, College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Teaching Award, Vanderford Distinguished Teaching Award and the prestigious Neely Award for Teaching Excellence at UCO.

Christy is a communication specialist. Using her years of experience in organizational effectiveness and conflict management, she coaches professionals to increase their leadership effectiveness. Christy helps her clients improve in essential behaviors such as managing time, setting priorities, uncovering values, working through conflict, coping with stress, and managing multiple roles. As an organizational effectiveness consultant, Dr. Vincent helps groups and organizations with strategic planning, conflict management, communication needs assessment, problem-solving and leadership development. She regularly conducts training courses for local corporations.

She holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) from the University of Oklahoma, a Master of Arts degree (M.A.) from the University of Houston, both in communication, and a Bachelor of Science degree (B.S.) in mass communication from Oklahoma Christian University.

Contact at cvincent2@uco.edu


Dr. David Wendler
David Wendler

Dr. Wendler previously served as MLC’s Vice President for Academics. In this capacity, he supervised all full-time and adjunct members of the MLC faculty. He retired from this position at the end of the 2013-14 school year. Prior to this service, Dr. Wendler served as Professor of Education at D/MLC. His first teaching experience was as principal and teacher at Riverview, Appleton, WI. During this time he also served the WELS as a school visitor/evaluator.

Dr. Wendler has been a member of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools since 1998. He has worked as a consultant-evaluator for the Commission, and as a member of the Commission’s Accreditation Review Council.

PhD University of Minnesota, Twin Cities: Educational Psychology
MS University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh: Curriculum & Supervision
BS Dr. Martin Luther College, New Ulm MN: Education


Dr. Michael W. Westerfield
Michael Westerfield

Dr. Michael Westerfield has served in higher education for over forty years. Earning his Bachelor of Arts in English at Harding University, he went on to earn the Master of Arts in English from Pittsburg State University and the Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska. Dr. Westerfield taught English for a number of years before moving into academic administration in higher education. His passion for institutional quality and improvement led him to begin working with accreditation in the early 90's. Since that time, he has chaired over fifty accreditation teams for the Higher Learning Commission. In addition, he has served on a number of committees and advisory teams for the Commission, helping to develop the Criteria for Accreditation, processes used in Peer Review, and the successful Assessment Academy. His latest interest is teaching the online training courses for Peer Reviewers for the Commission.

Dr. Westerfield's understanding of accreditation and the ever growing role of compliance in higher education will help participants as they find more of their own time spent on these issues and institutional improvement. Leaders in higher education find themselves pulled a number of directions in higher education. A valuable leader is one that understands these expectations and one that can lead the institution through the complexities of the sometimes confusing world of accreditation and compliance.


ELA Staff

Cary Williams

Educator's Leadership Academy Director

Cary Williams

Contact Us
Educators’ Leadership Academy
University of Central Oklahoma

100 North University Drive

Campus Box 212
Edmond, OK 73034

Ph: 405.974.5561
Fax: 405.974.3922
Email Us: www.uco.edu/ela