(JACKSON, Miss.) – Jackson State University has filled two key academic leadership positions in the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science, Engineering and Technology.
Dr. Lawrence T. Potter Jr., an English and Africana studies scholar who is also an expert on diversity in higher education and a veteran administrator, has been named dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
Dr. Richard A. Aló, an internationally recognized scholar and researcher who has dedicated his career to opening pathways to higher education for underrepresented minorities, has been appointed dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology.
Jackson State University President Carolyn W. Meyers announced the appointments on Sept. 4.
“It is a compliment to the entire JSU family that the pool of candidates for both leadership positions was exemplary,” Meyers said.
Potter currently serves as special consultant for faculty development and strategic initiatives at DePaul University. Up to July 2012, he was the inaugural chief diversity officer and associate dean and professor of English at Allegheny College. As a member of the college’s highest-level management body, Potter had broad influence over many aspects of campus and community life, especially with faculty and the curriculum in efforts to advance and sustain diversity.
“Dr. Potter is an accomplished scholar and leader who has forged new ground in his academic field while also helping to change the face of American higher education,” Meyers said. “His expertise on diversity, cultural competency, equity and justice issues has not only helped colleges and universities, but has had an impact on businesses and government.”
Potter came to Allegheny from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, where he was the university’s executive director of institutional diversity. He also served at DePaul University as an American Council on Education fellow.
Prior to his tenure at St. Thomas, Potter was director and associate professor of Africana Studies and English in the College of Arts and Sciences at Western Michigan University. He also served as coordinator of the university’s Multicultural Student Achievement Programs.
Among his accomplishments, Potter established the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program at St. Thomas. He has served as a consultant to Minneapolis Public Schools, the Minneapolis Public Defender’s Office and the Ramsey County Judicial Office. The University of St. Thomas awarded Potter the 2007 William B. Malevich Faculty Leadership Award for excellence in leadership, governance and service. Potter’s professional memberships include the American Conference on Academic Deans, the Council for Opportunity in Education, the American Council on Education, the Modern Language Association and the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education.
A Jackson native, Potter earned bachelor’s degrees magna cum laude in English, philosophy and religion from Stillman College and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Purdue University and was awarded a Fulbright to teach in China in 2003. His research concentrates on the inextricable relationship between culture and communication. His teaching focuses on the interrelated connections between race, class, gender and sexuality in American and Black literature.
Aló is currently a program director for the National Science Foundation and executive director of the Center for Computational Sciences and Advanced Distributed Simulation at the University of Houston-Downtown.
“Dr. Aló brings a deep level of teaching, research and leadership experience to Jackson State that will help our College of Science, Engineering and Technology soar to even greater heights,” Meyers said. “He is not only a scholar and innovator, but is a strategic and collaborative leader who has been highly effective at cultivating the next generation of science, engineering, technology and mathematics professionals.”
Aló joined the faculty of the University of Houston-Downtown in 1982 as a professor and chair of the Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences and served as department chair until 1995. From 1995 to 2010, he was executive director for Grants and Contracts for the university’s College of Science and Technology. He has previous teaching experience at the Pennsylvania State University, Carnegie-Mellon University, Lamar University, the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India, and the Universita’ degli Studi di Siena, the Universita’ degli Studi di Parma and Scuola Normale in Italy. He earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in mathematics with a minor in computer science from the Pennsylvania State University and a B.A. in mathematics from Gannon College.
Aló’s current research interests include artificial intelligence, biomedical and generalized information systems, synthetic environments and distributed simulations, computer science education, computational science, grid computing, cyber infrastructure, text processing, medical applications, and visual analytics. He has published more than 100 professional papers, co-authored a graduate text for Cambridge University Press and has delivered more than 150 research presentations.
Aló has served on numerous advisory and executive boards including the Mathematical Association of America’s Committee on Exchange of Information for Mathematics and Committee for the Undergraduate Program in Mathematical Sciences; the American Mathematical Society Student Advisory Panel; the Center for Education in International Community; the Houston Independent School District’s NSF Urban Systemic Initiative for reform of K through 12 science and mathematics education; the NSF Computer and Information Science and Engineering Policy Board for Minority Education Funding; the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Education and Outreach; and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities STEM advisory.