Meet the candidates: College of Education Dean

CAROLINE CHRISTENSEN, News Editor

Final three candidates vie for open Dean of the College of Education position

Colleen Mulholland

The first candidate announced by the College of Education is current interim dean Colleen Mulholland. Mulholland has served as interim dean at UNI since 2019, and will continue to serve as interim dean through the 2022 academic school year. She came to UNI after 10 years with the University of Indianapolis, and served as interim dean, assistant dean, and as an assistant professor in secondary education.

“During and prior to my time at UNI, I have led meaningful systemic change initiatives that have directly impacted students, faculty, the university and the greater community,” Mulhollond writes in an official letter of introduction. 

Mulholland earned her doctorate in education in curriculum and instruction and master’s in instructional design from the University of Central Florida. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in middle school education with a specialization in English language arts and social studies from University of Kentucky. She has previously taught middle level and high school English in Florida and holds national board certification in English language arts and adolescent young adulthood. 

Mulholland emphasizes her main strengths as her “commitment to cultivating an inclusive, diverse, and accessible environment for all,” her “administrative acumen and success,” “expertise in educator preparation, partnerships, community engagement” and finally her “experience in fundraising and alumni relations.”

Mulholland also emphasized her passion in serving as the interim dean for the College of Education.“It has been a professional privilege to witness excellence on a daily basis and I remain in awe of the expertise of our faculty, the promise of our students, and the deep impact the work of this College has on our community, state, region, and nation.”

Christopher Jochum

The second candidate announced by the university is Christopher Jochum. Jochum is currently the Chair of the Department of Teacher Education at Fort Hays State University (FHSU). Jochum holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Kansas State University, a master’s degree in Spanish and ESL Education and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education (Spanish and Speech) from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

“As someone who is bilingual (English/Spanish) and has committed my career to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion, I believe I am uniquely qualified to lead, support and grow diverse programs that serve the needs of all students,” Jochum writes in his letter of introduction.

Jochum’s professional accomplishments at Fort Hays include creating a “two-year small learning community for education majors, increasing undergraduate research participation in the department, developing an honors program for teacher education majors, offering service learning and internship opportunities to urban and rural areas of the United States, and providing students global, diverse experiences through study abroad.”

Prior to Jochum’s position at Fort Hayes, he spent eight years at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK), and developed an online Master of Arts Degree in Spanish Education in 2013 which was the first of its kind.

“I am confident that I possess the character, integrity, experience and leadership style required to serve as the next Dean of the College of Education at the University of Northern Iowa,” Jochum said.

Sara Helfrich

The final candidate announced by the university is Sara Helfrich. Helfrich currently serves as interim dean for the Patton College of Education at Ohio University.

Helfrich has earned a  bachelor’s degree in elementary education/moderate special needs, a masters in education in special education from Boston College, and a Ph.D. in Reading Education from the University of Pittsburgh. According to Ohio University, “Helfrich teaches courses in reading methods, reading instruction and assessment, language and literacy development, and children’s literature,” and her major research interests include “pre-service and in-service teacher self-efficacy related to teaching literacy, teacher preparation programming, and the role of partnerships in teacher education.”

Among some of Helfrich’s professional achievements include creating the Grant Writing Mentor Program at Ohio University, transitioning the Masters of Reading program online in 2012 which tripled enrollment, and developing the graduate-level Online Reading Endorsement program in 2013.

Her letter of introduction detailed her commitment to building an inclusive environment, building strong partnerships and working with a variety of programs as well as her strong communication, interpersonal and collaborative skills,

“It would be a privilege to offer my strengths of collaboration, steady and thoughtful leadership, and a strong desire for continued progress to your college,” Helfrich wrote. “The College of Education at UNI has an exciting future and I would like to help lead the journey.”