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Interim dean of College of Education is named

Frankie Santos Laanan

University of Utah Provost Mitzi M. Montoya announced that Associate Dean Frankie Santos Laanan has accepted an offer to serve as interim dean of the College of Education. Laanan will begin his new role on Feb. 16, 2023, and will continue to serve until a new dean is appointed. Montoya anticipates that a national search for a dean will kick off in the upcoming months.

Laanan, a professor in the Departments of Education, Culture and Society, and Educational Leadership and Policy, joined the U as the inaugural associate dean for faculty and student affairs in the College of Education in 2021. He is an educational scholar whose research focuses on the impact of college on individuals and society. His research and published work focus on postsecondary educational opportunities for first-generation, low-income and historically underrepresented students. As a Pacific Islander scholar and first-generation college student, Laanan engages in educational research to investigate critical questions about college access and the success of diverse students. He serves as the faculty advisor for the College of Education Student Council and has won several awards for his research that focuses on college access, equity and STEM pathways for women and minority groups.

“I appreciate Dean Laanan’s commitment to researching ways to create better access and equity for students who aspire to go to college,” Montoya said. “As associate dean, he provided leadership and direction for the retention, promotion and tenure processes in his college and strengthened its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. I look forward to working with him in this new role as he continues to lead the College of Education toward a bright future.”

The College of Education’s mission is to foster discovery and dissemination of knowledge to promote learning, equitable access and enhanced learning outcomes for all students. Research from the college addresses the most pressing challenges surrounding education, mental health, and communities through its impact on education policy and practice.

The college’s teaching, preparation and specialized graduate and undergraduate programs reflect the science and art of evidence-based practices and pedagogy. It oversees the Urban Institute for Teacher Education, which prepares educators to serve urban students and is home to the Utah Education Policy Center, University of Utah Reading Clinic and the Educational Assessment and Student Support Clinic.

“I am honored and excited to support the faculty and staff within the College of Education as we work to prepare our students to be tomorrow’s educators, researchers, mental health providers, counselors, leaders, community-engaged practitioners, scholars, and innovators,” said Laanan, who received an M.A. and Ph.D. in higher education and organizational change from the University of California, Los Angeles. “Education has the power to change lives, and I am committed to advancing the college by translating research into practice and policy to effect transformational change in schools, universities, organizations and society.”

Dean Nancy Songer, who led the College of Education since July, 2020, has been named as the inaugural associate provost of STEM education to oversee a new hub at the U that will support science and mathematics teachers with best practices and training.