Executive Bios - Deans
College of Veterinary Medicine
784 Wilson Road, Room G100
Veterinary Medical Center
John Baker is dean of the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Baker has been a professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences for the past 30 years and serves as the associate director of MSU’s AgBioResearch, acting as liaison to Michigan animal commodity groups and the Animal Agriculture Initiative. He is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Baker has served in a number of other capacities at MSU, including associate dean for research and graduate studies within the veterinary college and as acting director of AgBioResearch from 2004-05. His primary research interest is viral respiratory diseases of livestock species. Baker serves in numerous professional societies concerned with veterinary medicine, research, and large animal industries, and has served on many college and university committees.
Stephen Esquith was appointed dean of the Residential College in Arts and Humanities in fall 2006. Prior to this appointment, he served as chair of the Department of Philosophy from 2000 to 2005. Esquith has been researching ethical problems in developing countries since 1990, when he was a senior Fulbright scholar in Poland. He has also been involved in numerous civic engagement projects in the public schools, including an exchange program between local elementary school children in the United States and schoolchildren in a community school in Kati, Mali. He led a study abroad program focusing on ethical issues in development in Mali in the summers of 2004 and 2006, and he spent the academic year 2005-06 teaching and working with colleagues at the University of Bamako as a senior Fulbright scholar.
In addition to serving as dean of the College of Music, James Forger is a professor of saxophone, an active performing saxophonist, and an award-winning recording artist. He was appointed as director of the School of Music in 1990, and since then the school (now college) has been recognized as a nationally ranked program. Forger is member of the Commission on Accreditation of the National Association of Schools of Music and has served as an evaluator and consultant to music schools and nondegree-granting community music programs across the country. In 1994, he founded a new nondegree-granting division of the College of Music, the Community Music School, which enrolls 1,200 individuals each year. Forger has performed throughout South America, Europe, Asia, and the former Soviet Union. He has been the guest saxophonist in residence at the International Chamber Music Festival of the Mayan Highlands in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. He has appeared as soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Greater Lansing Symphony Orchestra, the Grand Rapids Symphony, and the Sinfonica de Vientos in Tunja, Colombia.
Sherman Garnett is the dean of Michigan State University's James Madison College. Previously, Garnett was a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he directed projects on security and national identity in the former Soviet Union and Russian-Chinese relations. He worked for more than a dozen years on arms control and post-Communist security policy questions in a variety of positions in the U.S. government, finishing his government service as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia. Garnett's interests include the former Soviet Union, especially Russian foreign and security policy; Ukraine; and comparative political and security issues for the post-Communist world. His current research interests include contemporary global security problems, political and security trends in Eurasia, and Russian intellectual and literary history.
Steven D. Hanson
Steven D. Hanson is associate provost and dean of International Studies and Programs (ISP). In this role, Hanson leads MSU’s international programming efforts, including multidisciplinary and multicollege research and strategic partnerships with higher education institutions abroad. He joined MSU in 1988 in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics and previously served ISP as interim dean from 2013-14 and as assistant dean from 2009-13. Hanson serves on the board of directors for the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa and the Midwest Universities Consortium for International Activities. He has served as chair of the National Association of Agricultural Economics Administrators and is a fellow of the Food Systems Leadership Institute.
College of Education
620 Farm Lane, Room 501
Donald E. Heller
Donald E. Heller is dean of the Michigan State University College of Education and a professor in the Department of Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education. Prior to his appointment in January 2012, he was a professor in and director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Pennsylvania State University. He also held a faculty appointment at the University of Michigan. Heller’s research interests cover educational economics, public policy, and finance, with a primary focus on issues of college access and choice for low-income and minority students. He has consulted on higher education policy issues with university systems and policy-making organizations in several states and has testified in front of congressional committees and state legislatures and in federal court cases as an expert witness. Before his academic career, Heller spent a decade as an information technology manager at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Joan Howarth was appointed dean of the Michigan State University College of Law in July 2008. Previously she was a professor at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she was instrumental in building the school and served as an associate dean. She was named the William S. Boyd Professor of Law. Howarth also has been a faculty member at the Golden Gate University School of Law. She was a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law; University of California Hastings College of Law; and University of California Davis School of Law. Howarth is a leader in legal education, working with the Association of American Law Schools, the American Bar Association and the Society of American Law Teachers.
In addition to serving as dean of Michigan State University’s Honors College, Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore is a professor in the School of Social Work and in the Department of Political Science and maintains an affiliation with the Global Urban Studies Program. Previously, Jackson-Elmoore served as acting assistant dean of the Urban Affairs Program, director of the Urban Studies Graduate Program, and codirector of the Program in Urban Politics and Policy. She was a fellow in the Executive Leadership Academy Program and in the Academic Leadership Program sponsored by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation. Jackson-Elmoore’s research interests include nonprofits and urban politics, healthy communities, and state and local policy. She has published books, articles, and book chapters, as well as monographs, reports, and conference papers.
Leo Kempel, dean of the College of Engineering, has been on the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty since 1998 and served as associate dean for research from 2008 to March 2013. He previously served as the inaugural director of the MSU High Performance Computing Center (2004–06) and associate dean for special initiatives (2006–08). His research is in the general area of applied electromagnetics with particular emphasis on conformal antennas, engineered materials, and measurement of electromagnetic properties of materials. He received the National Science Foundation CAREER award and is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the Applied Computational Electromagnetics Society. Kempel received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1989 and a doctorate from the University of Michigan in 1994.
R. James Kirkpatrick
James Kirkpatrick is dean of Michigan State University's College of Natural Science. He has more than 20 years of experience in college administration and served as executive associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) before joining MSU in 2007. He received his Ph.D. in geology from UIUC in 1972 and has authored more than 200 research publications. His research focuses on the application of high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and computational molecular modeling in geochemistry, mineralogy, and materials chemistry.
Mary Mundt is dean of Michigan State University's College of Nursing. Mundt received her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from Marquette Univeristy, a master's degree in public health nursing from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a B.S.N. from Marquette University. Previously, she was dean and professor of the School of Nursing at the University of Louisville and has also served on the boards of several organizations, including the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the American Cancer Society. Mundt is recognized for her leadership in building university-community partnerships as well as her commitment to education practices and research.
Fred L. Poston
Fred L. Poston is dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and special advisor to the president. Prior to his appointment, Poston served as vice president for finance and operations and treasurer for Michigan State University and as president of the Michigan State University Foundation. Previously, Poston was vice provost and dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, where he guided the $74.2 million Revitalization of Michigan Animal Agriculture project to completion, created the $6.2 million Project GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs—a program to revitalize Michigan’s plant agriculture industries), and developed the Partnership for Co-System Research and Management with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. He also oversaw the construction of seven new facilities and raised more than $47 million for the college.
Marsha Rappley is dean of Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine, having been appointed in September 2006 after serving as the college's acting dean for more than a year. An MSU faculty member since 1988, Rappley is a 1984 graduate of the College of Human Medicine. Prior to serving as acting dean, Rappley was the college's associate dean for academic affairs. Other administrative positions she has held at MSU include interim chairperson of the Department of Pediatrics and Human Development and interim associate dean for academic affairs of the College of Human Medicine. She is recognized nationally for her expertise in problems of learning and behavior in children, especially attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Elizabeth H. Simmons
Elizabeth H. Simmons is dean of the Lyman Briggs College and University Distinguished Professor of physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
A particle theorist, Simmons’ research focuses on the origins of the masses of the elementary subatomic particles, particularly that of the top quark. Prior to joining the MSU faculty in 2003, she spent 10 years as a professor at Boston University. She holds a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate in physics from Harvard University, as well as a master’s degree in physics from Cambridge University where she was a Churchill Scholar.
Simmons is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Physical Society. In 2013, she received MSU’s Robert F. Banks Award for Institutional Leadership. In 2013-14, Simmons was named an American Council on Education Fellow, for which she spent the year in the provost’s office at Yale University while continuing her role as dean.
Tapped for her strong administrative experience and appreciation for interdisciplinary studies, Simmons also currently serves as acting dean of the College of Arts and Letters, effective August 1, 2014.
In addition to serving as dean of Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, William Strampel is a professor of internal medicine. Previously, Strampel served as the college's interim dean and the college's senior associate dean. He also is the lead medical director of MSU HealthTeam. Before coming to MSU, Strampel was a special assistant to the U.S. surgeon general for operations and readiness; he also served as chief medical officer for the Tricare Management Activity and as director of quality management in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Strampel was commander of the Brooke Army Medical Center and Great Plains Regional Medical Command, and was chief of the Quality Assurance Division, Department of the Army, Office of the Surgeon General. He also served in a number of capacities at hospitals in Colorado, Kansas, and Korea.