Special to the
Opelika Observer

Auburn University has appointed Theresa McCormick, associate dean for academic affairs and an elementary education professor, as the interim dean of the College of Education, effective July 1. She succeeds Betty Lou Whitford, who announced her retirement last fall after serving as dean for 10 years.

McCormick, who came to Auburn in 2004, brings a wealth of administrative experience to the position, including serving as associate dean for academic affairs since 2017, as both assistant and interim head of the Department of Curriculum and Teaching from 2014-17, and as program chair of the college’s elementary education program from 2007-14. As interim dean, McCormick will oversee more than 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students, nearly 200 faculty and staff, seven academic units and a robust research and outreach portfolio.

“Dr. McCormick brings strong experience and enthusiasm to the role of interim dean,” said Provost Bill Hardgrave. “Especially as our university continues to navigate the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am confident that she will continue to promote the college’s goals regarding scholarship, instruction and outreach.”

Through her leadership roles, McCormick has worked to advance the college’s mission of preparing the next generation of teachers by ensuring Auburn students participate in experiential learning opportunities and engage in a variety of research- and evidence-based instructional strategies. Her steadfast commitment to students served her well as associate dean, where McCormick was the lead administrator for the Office of Student Services, the assistant dean of Assessment and Certification Officer. In addition, she coordinated undergraduate student development, graduate student services, clinical experiences and oversaw academic advisors in the college.

“I am extremely honored to be asked to serve in this interim role as dean of the College of Education,” McCormick said. “I have been impressed by the resilience and creativity of our faculty, staff and students during the COVID-19 pandemic over the last three months. As the university moves toward finding a ‘new normal,’ I am deeply committed to advancing the college’s strategic plan, as well as supporting the mission of the college in the areas of exemplary teaching, impactful research and outreach.”

As interim department head, McCormick oversaw one of the college’s largest units that offers undergraduate and master’s-level teacher preparation programs, as well as advanced graduate programs. Working with faculty, McCormick promoted academic partnerships with other colleges and schools and supported the international engagement of faculty through their teaching, research and outreach, something she looks forward to continuing as interim dean.

Within the research community, McCormick’s scholarly efforts have focused on advancing pre-service and in-service teaching experiences for history and social studies educators in K-12 classrooms. Her research, teaching and mentoring efforts have been recognized with a variety of awards, including the Gerald and Emily Leischuck Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Auburn University Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award, being named as Outstanding Faculty Member by the Student Government Association for two years and serving as a participant in the Library of Congress Summer Teaching Institute. In addition to her administrative roles, McCormick has either chaired or served on more than a dozen doctoral committees and maintains a robust research portfolio of published chapters and scholarly research papers.

McCormick holds a doctorate, education specialist and Master of Education degree in elementary education from the University of Alabama, as well as a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Jacksonville State University.

Founded in 1915, the Auburn University College of Education offers more than 60 degree options in teaching, special education, educational leadership, kinesiology, counseling, adult education, educational technology and educational psychology. All of the college’s educator preparation programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, or NCATE, and approved by the Alabama State Department of Education, or ALSDE. Programs in counseling and rehabilitation are accredited by the American Psychological Association, or APA, and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, or CACREP, and music education shares the National Association of Schools of Music, or NASM, accreditation with the College of Liberal Arts.