2020 Advisory Council

April C. Mason, Advisory Board Chair
Retired, Kansas State University

April Mason served as the Provost and Senior Vice President of Kansas State University from January, 2010 to June 2018.  As the University's Chief Academic Officer, she oversaw the academic dimensions of the university and ensured the university's academic standards. In cooperation with the president and the Deans Council, Mason provided leadership in the development, review, and operationalization of policies and goals regarding instruction, research and outreach programs. While in this position, Mason served as the Chair of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities Council on Academic Affairs and was a founding member and Chair of the Association of Chief Academic Officers, a group associated with the American Council of Education.  Before joining Kansas State University, Mason held faculty and administrative positions at Colorado State University and Purdue University.  April holds her doctorate degree in Nutrition and her master's degree in Botany from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN and her undergraduate degree in Biology from University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio.


Paul A. Blake
Retired, Ferris State University

Paul Blake served as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs from 2014-2020. He holds a PhD in English from Michigan State University and a Bachelor and Master degree from Michigan State and Ball State University respectively. Prior to becoming Provost, Dr. Blake served Ferris State as Associate Provost of Academic Operations from 2010-2014, Associate Dean of the College of Education and Human Services from 2005-2010, Director of English Education from 2000-2007, and Professor of English from 1989-2005. His career at Ferris State University spanned 32 years. Dr. Blake began his career teaching high school English. He also coached football at the high school level and then at Ball State University.

During his tenure as Provost, Dr. Blake helped to lead initiatives that saw growth in a number of areas. Those areas included that grant-funded faculty research, initiatives in pedagogical innovation, interdisciplinary and inter-professional education initiatives and research, partnerships in community literacy, community health initiatives and ongoing grant-funded work on a rural health center partnership, corporate and professional development, university-wide assessment initiatives, significant dual and concurrent enrollment growth, and General Education revision and redesign. He helped to implement the university Academic Literacy Center to help identify, diagnose, and improve academic content literacy barriers for undergraduate, graduate, and professional program students. He also helped create community development initiatives, worked with university and program accreditation, and organized the first campus-wide Innovation Fair to celebrate both individual and collaborative efforts by faculty and staff in innovative curriculum design, pedagogy, research, assessment, retention, and classroom climate initiatives.

Areas of Expertise: Content literacy and pedagogy, community literacy, interdisciplinary / inter-professional curriculum and pedagogy innovation and initiatives, dual and concurrent enrollment, and assessment.

Michael A. Gealt 
Retired, Central Michigan University

Michael A. Gealt was Central Michigan University’s Executive Vice President and Provost (and Professor of Biology) from August 1, 2013 through June 30, 2019.  Dr. Gealt continued his employment with CMU through Dec. 31, 2019, as Provost Emeritus, at which point he retired from the university as Professor Emeritus.

At the time he stepped down Dr. Gealt was recognized for being a champion of student success, teaching excellence, and nationally recognized research endeavors.  Several significant university accomplishments occurred while Gealt was provost, including the ten-year reaffirmation of accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, the update of the university’s Advancing Excellence strategic plan, the reorganization of the Academic Division, the reclassification of the university as a Carnegie R2 research institution, and the achievement of full accreditation of CMU College of Medicine from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.  While provost at CMU he also sat on the Board of Directors of CMU Medical Education Partners corporation that serves as the organization for graduate medical education for the university and affiliated partner healthcare systems.

Prior to joining CMU, Gealt served as dean of the College of Science and professor of biology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Prior to UALR he was dean of Engineering, Mathematics and Science at Purdue University Calumet (now Purdue University Northwest) and, before that, he held faculty and administrative positions at Drexel University, including Director of the School of Environmental Science, Engineering and Policy. Gealt received his bachelor's degree in biology from Temple University and his doctorate in microbiology from Rutgers University.  In addition to his scientific pursuits, Gealt has interests in K-12 education and from 2011-2019 served on the Board of Directors of the EAST Initiative, which has STEM-oriented education programs in more than 250 schools.

Gealt is a fellow of both the American Academy for Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  He served as Chair of the American Society for Microbiology Environmental and Applied Microbiology Division in 1994 and was an ASM Foundation Lecturer in 1993.  He was Chair of the Arkansas STEM Coalition from 2009-10. He continues as a peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission.

Areas of Expertise:  Strategic planning for organizational change; Accreditation and academic program review; Faculty governance.

Christine M. Hammond
Retired, Mid Michigan College

Dr. Christine M. Hammond served as the President of Mid Michigan College from June 2014 through her retirement in June 2020. 

During her tenure, President Hammond positioned the College to anticipate and respond to the needs of the students and communities it serves. Focusing on student success and degree completion, the College developed 60 academic pathways and expanded its student services, including the creation of centers for veterans and career development. She strengthened ties between the College and the regional manufacturing and economic-development groups and, by listening to their needs, connected the College’s skilled- trades programs to employer needs. These efforts enabled hundreds of Mid students to earn industry-based credentials through the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) and its partners: Snap-On, Trane, Starrett, and Cisco.

The College’s shared-governance system was developed and implemented under President Hammond, and leadership and professional development opportunities for employees at all organizational levels were substantially expanded. Concurrently, Life-Long and Community Education programs were reinvigorated, state funding and donor support were increased, and the College enhanced its presence as a respected resource for education and economic development across the mid-Michigan region.

Hammond also revitalized the Harrison campus with a major renovation of the College’s original classroom building, replacing deteriorating infrastructure and mechanical systems with cost-saving energy efficiencies and adding a new Outdoor Education Center.

President Hammond’s efforts were recognized at the State and national level. She received the Shirley M. Gordon Award of Distinction and the Bennett Lifetime Achievement Award from Phi Theta Kappa; the Patriot Award from the Employer Support of Guard and Reserves organization in 2018; and the Key Partner Award from MSU Extension in 2019. Upon her retirement as President of Mid Michigan College, the Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, Mr. Douglas Jacobson, issued a statement that “No one works harder than she does, and we are incredibly grateful for her vision, her dedication, and her leadership.”

Prior to assuming these responsibilities, Dr. Hammond was the Chief Academic Officer for North Central Michigan College, a community college in Petoskey, Michigan. In that role, she provided leadership for its academic program, including accreditation; curricular development; faculty recruitment and development; corporate and community education; off-campus centers; and library and instructional technology. She collaborated with faculty and staff across the College to lead student success strategies in conjunction with the College’s Achieving the Dream initiative.

Dr. Hammond’s career integrates numerous leadership experiences in student and academic affairs across a variety of institutional settings. At Michigan State, a major research university, she served, among other roles, as the Executive Director for Administration at the Law College for ten years and as the Senior Project Coordinator for the university’s initiative in Dubai, U.A.E. At Lawrence University and Thiel College, which are private liberal arts colleges, she served as an administrator in student services. She is known for her ability to design systems, policies, and practices for effective institutional governance and management, and for the effective use of data in curriculum development, strategic planning, and budgeting.
President Hammond holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Thiel College (1977), a Master of Arts degree in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University (1978), and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Michigan State University (1994).

At the national level, she serves on the advisory board of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and of Phi Theta Kappa. At the state and regional level, she serves on the MI-ACE Network for Women, the Central Region Board of Mid-Michigan Health System, the MSU Ag-Bio Research Council, and as a peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission. At the local level, she is member of the Petoskey Rotary.

Dr. Hammond’s husband Tom is a professor-emeritus of political science (Michigan State University). They are the proud parents of young professionals Emily and Stuart.


Lynette J. Olson
Retired, Pittsburg State University

Dr. Lynette J. Olson retired as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Pittsburg State University in Kansas June 30, 2019 having been appointed to the position beginning March 2010 following nine months as Interim Provost. Prior to this, she served as Dean of Pittsburg State University’s College of Arts and Sciences from 2001 through June 2009 having joined the PSU faculty in 1996 as chairperson of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences..
Olson earned a PhD in family life education and consultation from Kansas State University and a Master of Science degree in student personnel and guidance/higher education from Oklahoma State University. Her bachelor’s degree in Christian education was from Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri.

Olson’s career includes fourteen years on the faculty at Manhattan Christian College in Manhattan, Kan. where she developed several academic programs as well as an outreach center for clergy in the area of family life education as well as overseeing dual degree programs with Kansas State University. Following that, she spent eight years on the faculty at South Dakota State University, where she served in capacities of family life specialist and Cooperative Extension Service Family & Consumer Sciences interim program leader.

Along with numerous recognitions throughout her career, in 2016, Olson received the Icon in Education Award, Ingram’s (Kansas City Business Magazine). In 2014, she was recognized by the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce Woman of Distinction and in 2011 was named one of Joplin Tri-State Business Journal’s 15 Most Influential Women. She was recognized by Kansas State University College of Human Ecology with the Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 2001. The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences recognized Olson with the Leader Award in 2002.
She completed a two-year term in October 2004 as President of the National Council of Phi Upsilon Omicron, an honor society of family and consumer sciences and currently serves as Chair-Elect of the Phi U Educational Foundation Board. She has held various leadership roles in state and national professional organizations. She was selected as a member of the Leadership Kansas Class of 2007 by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. Olson participated in the Oxford Roundtable on Women in Leadership in 2006 at Oxford University in England. In June of 2008, she participated in the Management and Leadership in Education Institute at Harvard University.

Having served communities and states in various roles throughout her career, she most recently completed a term as a member of the Ascension Via Christi Board of Directors. In Pittsburg KS she served as a member of the Mt. Carmel Foundation Board of Directors, Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas Board of Trustees, Pittsburg Public Library Foundation Board, and Pittsburg Family Resource Center Board of Directors.

Risa Palm
Professor of Urban Studies, Georgia State University

Risa Palm served as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Georgia State University from 2009-2019, and is now a Professor of Urban Studies. Before coming to Georgia State, she was also provost at Louisiana State University and also provost of the State University of New York (SUNY) system. A major role at GSU was the development and implementation of the ten-year strategic plan which resulted in major improvements in undergraduate student success as well as research competitiveness. She previously was Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at both the University of Oregon and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and before that was Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Colorado Boulder. She has also been a faculty member in the geography departments of the University of California at Berkeley and Normandale Community College.

Her Ph.D. is in geography, and she has been President of the Association of American Geographers as well as a Fellow of that organization. She has published fourteen books, received support from the National Science Foundation, and has published numerous research articles, primarily on the topics of urban geography and environmental hazards including climate change. She served as the Chair of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities Council on Academic Affairs and served on the board of the Association of Chief Academic Officers.

Areas of expertise: Leadership in strategic planning, faculty/dean recruitment, orientation and evaluation, and academic program review.

Selase Williams 
Retired, Lesley University

Selase Williams retired in the summer of 2017 from his most recent executive position as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after six years of service at that private, non-profit, comprehensive university.  In that role he played a major role in formulating and implementing the university’s strategic plan, developed policies and procedures for enhancing student academic advising, student outcome assessment, periodic program reviews, and expedited program reviews. Under his leadership, new undergraduate and graduate degree programs were created, including online and low-residency programs.   A strong proponent of international education, he established the Center for Global Education with the goal to increase study abroad opportunities, improve the quality of life for international students and increase their numbers on campus, to integrate international content and perspectives into the curriculum, and to build institutional partnerships with universities overseas.  In addition to signing a revenue-sharing agreement with The Learning House to market and recruitment for fully online programs, Williams launched the Community College Partnership Initiative to create seamless pathways for Bunker Hills Community College graduates to enter and complete Lesley bachelor’s degrees on the community college campus.

Williams provided leadership to the campus on matters related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.  Working closely with President Joe Moore, he shaped and developed the Urban Scholars Initiative (USI), a program which provides four-year financial, academic, and personal support for 20-25 low-income, first-generation, youth from urban high schools in the greater Boston/Cambridge area each year.  A unique collaboration with 15 community-based organizations, USI enjoyed a retention and graduation rate of over 90 percent.  Confronted by two dynamic forces, Black Lives Matter and growing White supremist activity, Provost Williams constituted the Task Force on Social Justice in Teaching and Learning comprised of students, faculty, staff, and administrators to develop strategies for combatting microaggressions in the classroom and for infusing social justice content, principles, and practices into the curriculum across the university.

As a faculty member who made his way up the ranks from Assistant Professor, to Associate Professor, and full Professor, Williams held a variety of leadership positions that led to his senior executive appointments.  Among the list of these positions were Director of Afro-American Studies at the University of Washington, Director of Minority Student Services at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and Chairman of the Pan African Studies Department at California State University-Northridge.  From there, he became the inaugural Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at California State University-Dominguez Hills, where he increased faculty diversity by 25%, before becoming the first Provost at Southern Connecticut State University, where he championed a first-year experience program that gained regional and national recognition for dramatically improving first year student retention.

Williams has presented papers and published on Sierra Leone Krio, African American Language, African retentions in America, and the efficacy of using bilingual/bicultural approaches to teaching African American youth.  He served two terms as President of the National Council for Black Studies and was a key player in organizing an international conference in Ghana, West Africa, in collaboration with the Organization of African Universities.

Areas of Expertise:  Leadership in programmatic and institutional strategic planning; innovation in institution-wide initiatives to advance diversity, inclusion, and social justice; development and management of programs to effectively increase retention and graduation rates; building and leading teams to develop cross-institutional partnerships.

Jean Wyld

Retired Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Springfield College, MA

Dr. Jean A. Wyld is the retired Provost and Vice President of Springfield College in Springfield, MA. She served in this position for 16 years supporting the growth and development of the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs offered by the college’s five schools in Springfield and on the college’s regional campuses across the country. While at Springfield College Jean served as an elected member and then as the Chair of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. She continues to serve the Commission by Chairing accreditation teams completing reviews of New England post-secondary institutions.

In addition to her work in support of ACAO, she is a member of the Board of Directors of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation, (CHEA), and she serves on the editorial board of BioScience, a journal published by the American Institute of Biological Science, (A.I.B.S.)

Prior to serving as Provost at Springfield College she served as CAO of York College of Pennsylvania, and in various faculty and administrative roles at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire. She is a former ACE Fellow, having completed her fellowship at Boston College. Dr. Wyld earned her Ph.D. in biology at the University of Connecticut.

Areas of Expertise: Faculty recruitment, orientation and evaluation; regional and program specific accreditation; strategic academic planning and program review; faculty governance.


Dr. B. J. Reed
Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Dr. Reed has been on the faculty of the University of Nebraska at Omaha since 1982 and served as Chairman of the Department of Public Administration from 1985 to 2000 and as Dean of the College of Public Affairs Community Service 2000 to 2011.  He also served as Executive Associate to the Chancellor from 2006-2012.  In 2011, he was named Interim Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs at UNO and appointed permanently in February of 2012.

He has published in numerous journals including Public Administration Review, The American Review of Public Administration, the International Journal of Public Administration, Public Productivity and Management Review, and Public Budgeting and Finance among others. He is also the author of several books on diverse topics including economic development, strategic planning, budgeting, financial administration and intergovernmental management.

Reed served as President of the Association of Chief Academic Officers (ACAO) in 2017-2018 and now serves as Past President. Reed also previously served as President of the National Council of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) in 2003-2004 and was chair of the Council on Peer Review and Accreditation for the NASPAA and Co-Chair of its Data Task Force Committee.  He served as a member of the National Council of Pi Alpha Alpha, the public administration honor society and as Chair of NASPAA’s Social Equity Committee.  Reed participated as Co-Chair of the Mayor Fahey’s Police-Fire Study Commission and also Chaired the City of Omaha’s Charter Commission. Reed was elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration in 2005 and recently completed a six-year term as member of the Board where he served as its Secretary and a member of its Executive Committee.

His community service includes Board of Directors of the Love Jazz Arts Center, Live Well Omaha (where he served as Chair for four years) and the Omaha Community Partnership where he served as Chair for three years.  He has been a member of the training coordination board for Omaha Neighborhood Builders.  He is also Past President of The Dundee Memorial Park Neighborhood Association and served on the 30th Anniversary Committee of Leadership Omaha and on the Board of the Midlands Latino Community Development Corporation.