Dean of Arts and Sciences, Dean of School of Education step down

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After impressive tenures, both Dean Kate Conley and Dean Spencer Niles will step down from their positions. COURTESY PHOTO / WM.EDU

Two deans at the College of William and Mary will be stepping down at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year to return to the classroomDean of Arts and Sciences Kate Conley plans to teach French and Francophone studies at the College, and Dean of the School of Education Spencer Niles will serve as a professor in the College’s counselor education program.

Conley took the position as dean in 2012 after acting as the associate dean of the faculty for the arts and humanities at Dartmouth College. During her time as dean, Conley played a central role in establishing the COLL Curriculum on campus 

William & Mary is thankful for the extraordinary work Kate has undertaken and successfully accomplished at the university in her years as dean,” College Provost Peggy Agouris said in a press release.

William & Mary is thankful for the extraordinary work Kate has undertaken and successfully accomplished at the university in her years as dean,” College Provost Peggy Agouris said in a press release“Her list of accomplishments and devotion to faculty excellence sets a high benchmark for her successor. I’m glad that she will lead the Faculty of Arts & Sciences through this school year and that she will continue to offer her teaching and research among our talented faculty.” 

Conley played a role in establishing the Center for the Liberal Arts and worked closely with diversity and inclusion initiatives during her time as dean by forming the Arts and Sciences Council for Diversity and Inclusion 

In addition, Conley has overseen the creation of new majors and minors at the College such as Japanese studies, geospatial analysis and computational and applied mathematics. 

“She has dedicated her service equally to care for faculty members and students. She championed innovative curricula, increased funding to improve student outcomes, advocated for balance between teaching and research and strengthened diversity and inclusion efforts. 

“Kate led the William & Mary faculty of arts and sciences during a wonderfully generative period,” College President Katherine Rowe said in a press release. “She has dedicated her service equally to care for faculty members and students. She championed innovative curricula, increased funding to improve student outcomes, advocated for balance between teaching and research and strengthened diversity and inclusion efforts. 

In her tenure as dean, Conley was influential in raising more than $100 million in the College’s For the Bold campaign. She also instituted the William and Mary Promise, an operating model that seeks to enhance the quality of the College’s education while keeping the College affordable as a Public Ivy institution 

Conley graduated from Harvard University cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English. She later earned two master’s degrees in French from the University of Colorado and the University of Pennsylvania. Dartmouth also granted Conley an honorary master’s degree in 2007. In 1992, Conley received her doctorate in French from the University of Pennsylvania.  

“I came to William & Mary because I saw an opportunity to really support the mission of arts and sciences and the faculty here, to create a fantastic new curriculum and to bring research to the classroom, and I’ve done everything I could in order to make that possible,” Conley said in the press release. “I am proud of that, and think it’s a good time for me to go back to my first love, which is research and teaching.” 

Niles joined the faculty of the School of Education in 2013, and presided over the graduate school as its dean for seven years. Niles took the position as dean three years after the opening of the new school of education building.  

Before coming to the College, Niles was a departmental head at Pennsylvania State University for programs including education psychology, counseling and special education. During his time as dean, the school of education offered its first online academic programs. He also oversaw the Executive Ed.D. programs, which seeks to help master’s students receive a doctorate in three years as they continue working in education.  

“Skip’s arrival at the school brought a strong sense of energy and purpose,” Rick Gressard, Chancellor Professor of Counselor Education said in a press release. “We were challenged to become more innovative and entrepreneurial, which has resulted in many new and truly significant initiatives.” 

“Skip’s arrival at the school brought a strong sense of energy and purpose,” Rick Gressard, Chancellor Professor of Counselor Education said in a press release. “We were challenged to become more innovative and entrepreneurial, which has resulted in many new and truly significant initiatives.” 

In 2018, the school of education launched its online M.Ed. in counseling, and this year, a new master’s in military and veterans counseling will be offered as well. The College will be the first school in Virginia to offer such a program.  

Niles started off his career as an elementary school teacher in Rochester, New YorkHe received his master’s degree in counselor education from Lehigh University and later went on to receive his doctorate in education at Penn State University  

“Dean Niles is an excellent example of the power of vision and leadership to move an institution forward,” Provost Peggy Agouris said in a press release.

“Dean Niles is an excellent example of the power of vision and leadership to move an institution forward,” Provost Peggy Agouris said in a press release. “In my brief time working with him, I have already found him to be an accomplished scholar, a distinguished leader in education innovation and a respected colleague. I want to thank Dean Niles for his hard work and dedication to the William & Mary School of Education and the university as a whole.” 

Niles was also involved in the creation of the Center for Innovation in Learning Designwhich is a program that seeks to bring researchers together and test new learning designs. He also supported at the College Troops to Teachers, a program that support military veterans who are transition to K-12 careers.  

“Dean Niles has steered the School of Education with thoughtfulness and insight, advancing William & Mary’s commitment to educating teachers and educational leaders to serve the Commonwealth,” President Katherine A. Rowe said in a press release. “During his time, Dean Niles successfully expanded the school’s reach, growing the school’s online footprint substantially, and led the development of new and impactful partnerships. I am deeply grateful for his leadership.” 

In 2017, Niles led the school of education to offer a minor in educational studies and in 2018 he expanded the school’s ESL and bilingual education through a new master’s degree.

“Like most educators, my passions are teaching, mentoring students and engaging in research,” Niles said in a press release. “I’m so proud of all that the School of Education has accomplished over the past seven years and I’m looking forward to having more time to focus on my students. Their energy and enthusiasm is what keeps all of us in this work.”