Meet the Deans
Deans' Mission Statement:
It is the mission of the CFAD Deans' office is to support transformative experiences for our students, community, faculty and staff. We will help provide students with the highest quality education, provide faculty with focused, goal-oriented support, provide staff with a rewarding work environment and provide our community with excellent arts experiences.
Dean Charleen Weidell, M.F.A.
Charleen Weidell came to UCO in August 2004. She is a professor of art in jewelry and metalsmithing and served as associate dean from 2017-2020, assistant dean from 2014-17 and chair of the Central Department of Art from 2007-14.
Charleen holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies and one in applied design from San Diego State University. She received her Master of Fine Arts in jewelry and metalsmithing from San Diego State University in 2002.
Charleen's work in metal has been exhibited and collected on the international, national and local levels. "Tart Server," a broad blade silver server, was published in Contemporary Silver Part II: Recent Commissions written by collector Seymour Rabinovich and acquired by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Her latest commissioned work was the Ceremonial Medallion for President Roger Webb at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Associate Dean Jill Priest, M.F.A.
Priest is a Central alumna, earning a Bachelor of Arts in dance education from UCO, as well as a Master of Fine Arts in choreography and performance from Texas Woman’s University. Prior to joining the UCO faculty, she founded and directed Tulsa Contemporary Dance Theatre, presenting work at the Living Arts New Genre Festival, the Tulsa Performing Arts Center and the Nightingale Theatre. Priest has served on the Dance Content Advisory Committee for the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation, the Fine Arts Advisory Committee for the Oklahoma State Department of Education and on the Executive Board for the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network for the State of Oklahoma.
Priest has worked as a passionate dance educator and choreographer for a wide variety of dance and theatre performances and events for the past 25+ years throughout Oklahoma and the region. Among others, she has set dance works for Stephen F. Austin State University, Perpetual Motion Modern Dance Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation. Her work, "Roots in Red Dirt," based on family recollections of the Oklahoma Land Run, was presented at the Performatica International Dance Festival in Puebla, Mexico, as well as a featured performance for the Enid Symphony Subscription Series. Priest has traveled throughout China presenting master classes at Sichuan Normal University, Xinghai Conservatory of Music, South China Normal University and Minzu University of China. In May 2019, she presented her work, "Unspoken," in Seoul, South Korea.
Priest’s extensive leadership experience as a department chairperson, dance education coordinator and founder and director of a professional dance theatre company, her service on advisory committees for teacher preparation and arts education boards, her passion for the arts and her ability to build consensus have prepared her well to serve the College of Fine Arts and Design in this role.
Interim Assistant Dean Sandra Thompson, D.M.A.
Sandra is a professor of music in the School of Music. She recently completed 30 years of service with UCO. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music Education from Oklahoma City University, a Master of Music degree from UCO and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Oklahoma.
She has served on the School of Music leadership team for several years, including as interim director of the School of Music and as department head of classroom studies. She currently serves as an undergraduate student adviser. In 2013, Sandra received the Vanderford Award for Excellence in Teaching. In addition to her academic and administrative accomplishments, she is the artistic director of the Ambassadors’ Concert Choir and has served on the Board of Directors of Allied Arts, Baton and Keyboard Club and the American Choral Directors Association.
With her rich and varied administrative experience and expertise, she will be a valuable member of the college leadership team during this transitional period.
Interim Assistant Dean Kato Buss, Ph.D.
Kato is an associate professor of theatre arts and has served as chairperson of the department for the past four years. His other administrative roles at UCO include assistant chairperson, program coordinator and the college's STLR liaison. Additionally, he completed both the UCO Educators’ Leadership Academy (ELA), Higher Education Department Chair Academy and the Academic Leadership Fellows (ALF) Academy. Kato holds a B.F.A. from the University of South Dakota, an M.A. from Humboldt State University in California and a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
His numerous accolades at UCO include the Vanderford Distinguished Teaching Award (2014), the Herbert S. Dordick Outstanding Mentor Award (2016), and the College Faculty Award for Outstanding Development, Encouragement, Pursuit and Support of Undergraduate Research, Creative and Scholarly Activities (2018).
With his breadth of contributions to the Department of Theatre Arts, the college and UCO at large, Kato will bring a wealth of experience to the co-interim assistant dean position.