Meet the Graduate College Deans
Dean Jeanetta D. Sims, Ph.D., APR
Jeanetta Sims is a highly collaborative, respectful leader who believes in listening, honoring people and scaling through Mt. Fuji moments. Dean Sims describes Mt. Fuji moments as pivotal times in the lives of people, educational institutions, and organizations; these moments stand between historical context and future potentialities. She brings this perspective on moments coupled with her curiosity for scholarly inquiry to leadership of the Graduate College. Following time spent as an Assistant Dean and Interim Dean in the Graduate College, Sims officially became Dean in January 2019.
Dean Sims joined UCO in 2007 and developed a local reputation for working cooperatively to meaningfully advance key initiatives. Along with chairing numerous faculty committees and councils, she was instrumental in helping UCO achieve successful initial AACSB and HLC Open Pathway mid-cycle accreditation reviews. As Assistant Dean, she re-invigorated marketing for graduate programs, renewed the JD/MPA paired degree with the Oklahoma City School of Law, and added enhancements to the Swansea@UCO Ph.D. collaboration. As Interim Dean, she developed the amalgamation for the University College. She assumed management of Tutoring Central and with students re-branded it to create the Broncho Education and Learning Lab (BELL); a BELL Sports Performance Center location for student-athletes expanded its presence as a university resource for academic support – all through leveraging existing budget. She encouraged development of doctoral, accelerated degree program, and online graduate offerings. And, she initiated CRM review as a key mechanism for re-stimulating graduate enrollment.
At the national level, Dean Sims has been tapped for executive leadership in five professional associations. A few of her noteworthy contributions of service include exceeding funding for a National Communication Association Black Caucus $25,000 endowment accomplished within three years and mentoring Ph.D. students through participating and coordinating the Marketing Management Association’s Doctoral Student Teaching Consortium since its inception. Heightened levels of local and national service have enhanced Dean Sims’ sense of gratitude and appreciation for working alongside gifted scholars who represent the global array of different identities similar to the diverse group of UCO’s graduate faculty and staff.
As a teacher scholar at heart, Dean Sims holds keen insight on faculty and student engagement. She transitioned to the Graduate College after a career with more than 20 years of teaching and researching at the undergraduate and MBA levels. Since 2007, she has maintained a program of interdisciplinary, mentored student research, called Diverse Student Scholars. In her tenure as an award-winning professor and researcher, she is most proud of the top paper awards and publications achieved with undergraduate student co-authors. Each research project offers evidence of student growth, professional development, and transformative learning. Dean Sims continues teaching independent research studies in the UCO College of Business department of marketing, where she earned tenure and the rank of professor.
Charged with advancing a University College as UCO’s Higher Learning Commission Quality Initiative, Dean Sims faces another Mt. Fuji moment – leading a new effort to galvanize teams around undergraduate studies in a manner similar to what exists with graduate studies. She believes an inherent strength of the Graduate College is its unique area of institutional shared space. Through leveraging the expertise of graduate faculty and staff, Dean Sims’ aims for the Jackson College of Graduate Studies are to improve the overall graduate student experience, increase graduate marketplace offerings, foster a graduate community, and review alignment along metrics that matter.
Associate Dean Robert Mather, Ph.D.
Robert Mather was named Associate Dean in the Jackson College of Graduate Studies in June 2019 following time spent as an Assistant Dean. Mather came to UCO in the fall of 1998 as a graduate student. He was hired in 2001 to teach in the department of psychology, where he now holds tenure and the rank of professor.
During his time at UCO, Mather has engaged actively with faculty and students on campus. In the College of Education and Professional Studies (CEPS), he has served as assistant chair in the psychology department and as a member of the CEPS leadership team. As chair of the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Mather developed new operational processes and maintained federal research compliance for UCO’s $8 million funded Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR) grant.
As a scholar, Mather is a state and national leader across multiple associations. For the Oklahoma Academy of Science and Oklahoma Psychological Society, Mather has chaired executive committees and organized statewide research conferences. For the Journal of Scientific Psychology, Mather has served as editor and chief executive officer. Along with serving on UCO’s Higher Learning Commission (HLC) writing team, Mather is an HLC peer reviewer.
During his tenure in the Graduate College, Mather has provided strong advisement to two deans. He is a leader in graduate student recognition serving as the director of the Three Minute Thesis Competition and as the facilitator of the selection of E. C. Hall Outstanding Graduate Student Awards. Mather served as chair of the Dean’s Graduate Council taskforce to review accelerated degree program processes. His experience and commitment to perspective taking and sustaining a collaborative culture are instrumental in advancing the University College.