Dr. M Cecil Smith has joined West Virginia University’s College of Education and Human Services as its new associate dean for research. He will begin his duties July 1.

“I am excited to have Dr. Smith join us in the College of Education and Human Services,” Lynne Schrum, dean of the college, said. “He brings a wealth of experience as a researcher and scholar. His work with faculty and graduate students will offer us the opportunities to conduct research and to also seek external funding.”

Smith, a nationally known expert on adult literacy assessment and STEM education, joins WVU from Northern Illinois University where he served for 25 years as a professor of educational psychology.

“WVU is particularly attractive to me because it is a leading public land-grant research institution having high faculty productivity across so many areas—public health, the sciences and engineering, the arts and, of course, education,” he said.

“There is a lot going on at WVU that is exciting and, from my perspective, it seems like there are endless possibilities for collaborative research activities across the colleges and various disciplines at WVU. It is important for the College of Education and Human Services to have a central role in such work.”

At Northern Illinois, he was the recipient of several national grants for his research, including support from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the American Educational Research Association, the International Reading Association and the NEA Foundation. He was co-principal investigator on two NSF grants, including Science in the Moment, a project that studied high school students’ perceptions of their daily experiences during science instruction, focusing on the instructional conditions that foster student engagement. The second project involved the development of an online cognitive tutor that assists students in applied social science fields in learning about research methodologies. Smith’s research has been published in numerous academic journals.

“The College of Education and Human Services is committed to furthering the research engagement of faculty and graduate students, supporting dissemination of research results, and furthering our Land Grant Mission in West Virginia,” Schrum said. “Dr. Smith will be instrumental in reaching all of these goals.”

Smith said he is impressed with CEHS’ collection of, “top-tier faculty and outstanding graduate students.”

His goal is to grow research and research funding at CEHS by strategizing with faculty and department chairs on the best way to leverage their research interests with funding opportunities. He will also seek direct collaborations with faculty on projects.

Federal budget cuts my cause a decline in federally-sponsored research, but Smith hopes to identify alternative funding sources in “corporations, private industries, philanthropic organizations, private donors, or perhaps other funding sources that we haven’t yet considered.”

Smith earned a doctorate in educational psychology, with an emphasis in lifespan human development, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Smith’s research has investigated the ways in which literacy contributes to adult development. His teaching interests include adult and adolescent development, learning and motivation, and research methods. Smith has edited four books on adult development and/or adult literacy, including the “Handbook of Research on Adult Learning and Development.”

“I think the College of Education and Human Services is poised to make even greater contributions to the academic and research mission of WVU,” Smith said. “I couldn’t be more pleased to have this opportunity to be a part of this work.”



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CONTACT: Christie Zachary, College of Education and Human Services
Phone: 304-293-0224; Christie.Zachary@mail.wvu.edu