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Meet the new School of Education and Health Sciences dean

Ali Carr-Chellman has always had a lot of drive.

The new dean of the School of Education and Health Sciences built her career as a tenured professor, program chair and department head at Penn State University; a national expert in educational technology, systemic change, and instructional design; a prolific scholar with a TED talk on “Gaming to re-engage boys in learning” viewed more than 1 million times; and most recently, a dean at the land-grant University of Idaho.

Before spring 2020, however, she never thought her career would take her 2,600 miles, across nine states, in an 37-foot long RV — during a pandemic. 

“It was the stuff of family legend,” she now says with a laugh. (Read a first-hand account of her move here; register for the Sept. 22 Meet the New Dean event here.)

Carr-Chellman — along with her husband, Davin, a UD associate professor of educational administration; twin boys, first-year students at UD; daughter, a senior in high school; and two rescue dogs — arrived in Dayton in time for her to start her new position July 1. She said she was drawn to UD for the opportunity to combine her faith and work lives under the University’s Catholic, Marianist tradition.

“I was really impressed with what I learned about the school before applying and during the interview process,” she said, adding she admires the school’s focus on “teachers and healers” and the ways UD helps students find their calling, not just their career.

While moving cross-country during a public health crisis brought challenges, starting a new job amid the pandemic also presents unusual circumstances, she said.

“I’m learning a lot as I would starting any job, the difference is just the way I’m going about it,” she said. “Everything is on Zoom, which is different from how we usually make connections. But, as Blessed Chaminade said, ‘for new times, new methods,’ so we’re living the Marianist principle of adaptation and change.”

Carr-Chellman said she considers herself a transparent leader who values relationships. She believes in “leading from the front,” meaning she won’t ask faculty and staff to do anything she wouldn’t do herself. But she also values “being led by” others, with a focus on faculty and staff voice and prioritizing the ideas of others as well as her own.. She looks forward to helping advance faculty ideas through grants or scholarship, new curriculum, experiential learning and innovative pedagogies.

She is currently meeting with every faculty member one-on-one — virtually, for now — and has asked each of them to share something they have written or that has meaning to them to shape that conversation. She says she wants to, “learn what they want for themselves, their careers and the school, to hear their voices and learn as much as I can about SEHS.” 

“It’s going to be a year of exploration and learning,” she said.

For more on Carr-Chellman, read the March announcement of her hiring.


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