Conversations with Leaders: Shannon Dermer
As Dean of the College of Education at Governors State University (GSU), Shannon Dermer oversees the Division of Education (DOE), the Division of Psychology and Counseling (DPC), and the Family Development Center (FDC). The College includes approximately 120 faculty and staff, and a $7 million dollar budget for the two divisions, the Dean’s Office, and the FDC.
Her appointment to Dean allows her to set the priorities of the college in collaboration with the faculty and staff who balance the needs of the students and the community. It's a responsibility Dr. Dermer views as being the voice of those she seeks to support.
“I try to keep resources available for faculty, staff, and students to excite and include them. I want to support them as people,” she said.
Her recent work includes helping the College of Education secure accreditation through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The CAEP was earned by meeting stringent standards to ensure educator preparation providers impart future teachers with the knowledge and skills to support the development of all students. Dermer notes that the faculty, staff, and students in the COE are proud to have this accreditation.
“It took a lot of hard work and determination to achieve full accreditation for both our undergraduate and graduate Educator Preparation Programs in the College of Education, College of Arts and Sciences, and College of Health and Human Services,” she said.
The stringent standards of the CAEP are important in the field of education, and these kinds of high standards are what drew Dermer to Governors State from the beginning.
Having been at GSU for 16 years, Dermer is proud of the time she’s invested at the university. She began as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Psychology & Counseling in the Marriage and Family track before her promotion to the Division Chair of Psychology and Counseling in 2009. She served as Interim Dean before being promoted to the Dean of the College of Education in May 2019. She cites the university’s support of students and faculty as what continues to draw her to Governors State.
“One of the things I’ve always enjoyed is that they really are trying to do right by students, and a wide diversity of students,” she said.
Dermer brings the same philosophies and visions that inspired her as division chair to her position as Dean: the main focus is, first and foremost, about students. And it’s for them that she’s always assessing the accessibility of programs and keeping an eye on the professional fields to keep everyone abreast of the most up to date theories and techniques.
“I’m always thinking about what can make things a better experience for students. I try to stay active and create opportunities for other people,” said Dermer.
These opportunities include her work with grants, like Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students which provided $18,000-$22,000 a year for students in Graduate Counseling, as well as initiatives she recently set, like providing stipends to faculty who design courses containing all open access materials to lessen the financial burden on students.
Dermer believes in leading by example, still actively publishing, presenting, and working with doctoral students, past and present, like the International Family Therapy Conference in Basel, Switzerland she will be presenting at with previous doctoral students.
She encourages faculty and staff to follow her example and actively supports them in their endeavors. Whether assisting or guiding them through grant writing or supporting course creations to improve programs, like her recent work in making online options available for all required psychology courses and even the creation of a psychology research lab with the counseling and psychology division, Dermer’s eyes are always on the horizon for the college.
“We’re beginning work on the college’s 2025 vision. I’m excited to help guide the college forward,” she said.