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Thanksgiving Break, NOV. 23-25: Classes Canceled, Offices Closed.:

The Max Chambers Library will be open 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Nov. 22., 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 23 and will be closed Nov. 24-26. The Wellness Center will be closed Nov. 23-27 and will resume normal hours Nov. 28.

Caroline Bentley, Ph.D.

Bob Brennan, Ph.D.

Mary Lee Brock, M.Ed.

Lee Johnson, Ph.D.

Rhonda Dean Kyncl, Ph.D.

Katrina Lacher, Ph.D.

David N. Lowry, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Maier, Ph.D.

Luis D. Montes, Ph.D.

Juanita Ortiz, Ph.D.

Nicole Warehime, Ph.D.

David Wendler, Ph.D.

Michael W. Westerfield, Ph.D.

Mackenzie Wilfong, J.D.

ELA Staff

Mary Howard


Caroline Bentley, Ph.D.

Dr. Caroline Bentley

Dr. Caroline Bentley is a Professor of Biology and Health Professions Advisor at the University of Central Oklahoma. She joined the UCO biology faculty in 2016 to work with students interested in a health professions career, and she teaches microbiology for majors. As the Health Professions Advisor at UCO, she works with students wanting to attend medical, dental, PA, or other graduate health programs through class advisement, interview preparation, and finding shadowing and volunteer opportunities with the goal of helping students become competitive applicants. She collaborates with Dr. Nicole Warehime on a project to work with pre-health students in the area of intercultural competency. Recently, she and Dr. Warehime were awarded the 2021 Masonic Transformative Learning Award to support their research.

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Bob Brennan, Ph.D.

Bob Brennan, Ph.D.

Dr. Brennan received his B.S. in Biology from the University of South Dakota, his M.S. in Veterinary Medical Sciences (Microbiology) from Louisiana State University, and his Ph.D. in Medical Sciences (Microbiology) from Texas A&M University Health Sciences Center.

Dr. Brennan is currently a professor of Biology, Interim Associate Dean, and Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Education and Research (CIBER) in the College of Mathematics and Science at the University of Central Oklahoma. Dr. Brennan served as Chair of the Biology Department at UCO from 2015-2020.  Prior to joining UCO in 2009, Dr. Brennan worked as a Microbiology Specialist at 3M in their Medical Division. He is a three-time alumnus of the Educators’ Leadership Academy (Outstanding Professors’ Academy 2011-2012, Higher Education Department Chair Academy 2017-2018, and Academic Leadership Fellows Academy 2018-2019) and received the College of Mathematics and Science Vanderford Distinguished Teaching Award in 2014.

Dr. Brennan’s scholarly activities focus on infectious disease research. He has worked on projects involving host-pathogen interactions, infection prevention, diagnostics, and vaccine development.  His work has resulted in more than 20 peer-reviewed publications, many of which include undergraduate students as co-authors.

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Mary Lee Brock, M.Ed.

Mary Lee Brock

Mary Lee Brock is Assistant Professor at Creighton University in the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (NCR) program in the Heider College of Business. The Mission of the NCR program is to teach individuals how to engage with conflict and resolve disputes effectively, efficiently, and humanely. This mission is consistent with the Jesuit, Catholic tradition of social justice, responsible leadership, and professional distinction. As a member of the NCR faculty Mary Lee teaches courses in group facilitation, family systems in conflict and mediation. She also has the honor of companioning the NCR master’s degree students as they apply their newly gained knowledge in their final Practicum Capstone course. As Assistant Director of the NCR program, Mary Lee has served on several University wide committees and initiatives. She offers conflict services across the University including conflict coaching, skill building workshops, large group facilitations, and conflict mediation.

Serving the community through workshops, public facilitations and process design projects is also a meaningful part of Mary Lee’s work. For the ten years before coming to Creighton Mary Lee was the founding Executive Director of Concord Center a non-profit mediation and facilitation center serving the Omaha area. Mary Lee holds a B.A. in Psychology from Creighton University and a M.Ed. in Counseling from South Dakota State University.

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Lee Johnson, CPA, Ph.D.

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.

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Rhonda Dean Kyncl, Ph.D.

Rhonda Dean Kyncl, Ph.D.Dr. Rhonda Dean Kyncl received an M.S. in Technology and Business from Pittsburg State University, both her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma in Composition, Rhetoric, and Literacy, and will earn a Certificate in Jesuit Studies from Boston College this fall. She currently serves as the Associate Dean for Students in the Dodge Family College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Oklahoma, where she oversees academic advising, study abroad, student engagement, and student success programming. She also oversees the college’s Withrow Leadership Scholars program and teaches English Composition, Graduate Research and Writing, and the Interdisciplinary Capstone course for the college. She and her husband also serve as Faculty-In-Residence for OU’s Headington Hall. Dr. Dean Kyncl oversees the Director of Academic Advising, the college’s Student Success Center Director, 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 event coordinator for the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences. They have two children: Mary, who is graduated from the College of Education at OU and teaches third grade in Tulsa Public Schools, and Jonathan, who is a recent graduate of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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Katrina Lacher, Ph.D.

Katrina Lacher, Ph.D.

Dr. Katrina Lacher is an Associate Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History and Geography at the University of Central Oklahoma. She earned her B.A. in History at Sewanee, an M.A. in History from Boston College, and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Oklahoma. In addition to serving as department chair, Dr. Lacher is also the Director of the Sustainability Studies program. She teaches classes in environmental history and modern US history. Dr. Lacher’s research interests include the modern environmental movement and direct-action environmentalism. She has received the College of Liberal Arts Faculty Member of the Year Award, the College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Teaching Award, the American Association of University Professors Excellence in Teaching Award, and the Vanderford Distinguished Teaching Award.

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David Lowry, Ph.D.

David N. Lowry, Ph.D.Dr. David N. Lowry is a Professor of Communication at Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City, where he teaches courses in Leadership, Ethics, Theory, and Culture. Lowry is a former Dean of Arts and Sciences, and before that, he taught at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, for twenty years. He is the author of the online Kendall-Hunt text, Peacemaking 101: Interpersonal Approaches for Ending Drama and Conflict. Lowry has numerous presentations at national and international conferences and has led peer review teams all over the country on behalf of the Higher Learning Commission for the past twelve years. He also serves as a member of the HLC Institutional Actions Council.

Dr. Lowry has served in higher education for over forty years. Earning his Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Abilene Christian University, he has the Master of Science in Human Relations and Management and the Ph.D. in College Teaching/Interpersonal Communication from the University of North Texas.

Dr. Lowry's understanding of accreditation, organizational culture, and the unique role that communication plays in all of these will help aspiring educational leaders better understand their work in creating healthy cultures of care, creativity, and academic production. The presentation will focus on how the leader might use available and embedded elements of organizational culture to create a more supportive work climate and bring about positive change.

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Elizabeth Maier, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Maier, Ph.D.

Dr. Elizabeth Maier was born and raised in central Oklahoma.  She has lived in Washington, DC, Texas, Nebraska, and Vermont.  Elizabeth has spent time working for federal and state governments.  She received her bachelor’s degree from the George Washington University, master’s degree from Texas A&M University and her Ph.D. in criminal justice from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. 

She joined the UCO faculty in 2011 after teaching at the University of Nebraska (Omaha & Lincoln) and Norwich University.  Dr. Maier enjoys teaching and conducting research.  Her research interests are in practical applications of research in the justice field, and materials to aid student learning and achievement.  She is an active member in the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and Oklahoma Criminal Justice Association.

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Luis Montes, Ph.D.

Luis Montes, Ph.D.

Dr. Montes received a BA in Philosophy and BS in Chemistry from New Mexico State University. He earned a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin. He joined the faculty at UCO in August 2000. Dr. Montes is currently Professor of Chemistry at the University of Central Oklahoma. He has served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry since 2012, and served as President of the UCO Faculty Senate in 2006-2007 and 2010-2011. He is an ELA veteran of both the Outstanding Professors Academy (2007-2008) and HE Department Chair Academy (2012), and was a participant in the second class of UCO’s Academic Leadership Fellows program (2009-2010). He has been Peer Reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission since 2012, and is also a Team Chair for HLC site visits. Dr. Montes received UCO’s Modeling the Way Award (2007), Vanderford President’s Initiative Award (2012), the Neely Excellence in Teaching award (2018). Dr. Montes scholarly work focuses on chemistry education and the history and philosophy of chemistry.

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Juanita Ortiz, Ph.D.

Juanita Ortiz

Dr. Juanita Ortiz is the Executive Director of Institutional Advancement at Rose State College in Midwest City, OK. Through this position, she oversees the campus’ strategic planning and staff professional development, and she contributes to the campus’ accreditation, assessment, and marketing efforts. Dr. Ortiz previously joined Rose State College as Dean of the Social Sciences Division, from 2014-2021. Prior to this position, she served as a tenure-track faculty member in the Criminal Justice Department at the University of Illinois-Springfield from 2008-2014. She is a Higher Learning Commission Peer Reviewer and an ELA graduate of the Academic Leadership Fellows Academy, the Educational Administrators Academy, and the Higher Ed Department Chair Academy. Dr. Ortiz has served as an ELA program mentor for the Academic Leadership Fellows Academy since 2021, and she has also taught as an adjunct instructor for the University of Oklahoma Sociology Department since 2018. Dr. Ortiz earned all of her degrees from the University of Oklahoma. She earned dual Bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Political Science; a Master’s degree in Sociology; and a doctoral degree in Sociology, with emphases in Criminology and Stratification. Dr. Juanita Ortiz’s research areas include female criminal offending and prisoner recidivism/reentry, with her work on women’s criminal recidivism included in the book, Mean Lives, Mean Laws: Oklahoma’s Women Prisoners (Rutgers University Press).

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Dr. M. Nicole Warehime

Nicole Warehime, Ph.D.Dr. M. Nicole Warehime is an Associate Professor of Sociology, Interim Assistant Dean in the College of Liberal Arts, and Chairperson of the Department of Sociology, Gerontology, and Substance Abuse Studies at the University of Central Oklahoma.  Since joining the UCO faculty in 2016, she has taught numerous courses centering on criminology, socio-cultural inequality, and social justice.  In research collaboration with Dr. Caroline Bentley, she assists student growth around intercultural competency.  Recently, she and Dr. Bentley were awarded the 2021 Masonic Transformative Learning Award to support their research.
 

 

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David Wendler, Ph.D.

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

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Michael W. Westerfield, Ph.D.

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.

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Mackenzie Wilfong, J.D.

Mackenzie Wilfong, J.D.Mackenzie Wilfong serves as the General Counsel at Tulsa Community College (TCC). Previously, Wilfong served as Associate General Counsel for the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents and Oklahoma State University. Before that, she was Assistant University Counsel and Director of Equal Opportunity, Title IX Coordinator, and ADA Coordinator for Oklahoma State University.

Wilfong is responsible for handling grievances, policy development, and contract review for TCC, Oklahoma’s largest community college that serves more than 25,000 students annually in credit courses. In addition, she assists TCC in navigating an increasingly complex regulatory environment in higher education.

Wilfong has a Juris Doctorate from SMU School of Law and a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Affairs and Administration from the University of Oklahoma. She is licensed to practice law in Oklahoma. Wilfong is a certified Title IX investigator, Title IX coordinator, and trauma-informed interviewer from ATIXA and the National Center for Campus Public Safety.


ELA Staff

Mary Howard Mary Howard, M.B.A.

Educator's Leadership Academy Director

Mary Howard began as the Director of the Educators’ Leadership Academy (ELA) at the University of Central Oklahoma in July 2022. She is a veteran of creating and managing engaging university and nonprofit events that build relationships and advance professional development. Mary earned a B.S. in Business Administration Marketing and M.B.A. from Oklahoma State University. She was previously the Director of Special Events in University Advancement at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX; Event and Hospitality Manager at the Noble Research Institute in Ardmore, OK; and the Assistant Director of the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK. Mary is a Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) through Meeting Professionals International (MPI). She and her husband, Brady, have three sons Holt, Hollis, and Hank. The family resides near the Howard Sheep and Cattle Ranch in northern Oklahoma.

Center for Excellence in Transformative Teaching and Learning (CETTL)
University of Central Oklahoma
100 N. University Drive, CTL 102, Campus Box 212; Edmond, OK 73034
Phone:  405-974-5561 / Fax: 405-974-3922
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