After a nationwide search, Brenau University named Dr. Sandra L. Leslie dean of the College of Education. She will oversee undergraduate and graduate programs for teachers and school administrators on campuses and online.
The Pittsburgh, Pa., native began in her new role on July 2. For six years prior Leslie served as a professor and dean of the School of Education at Shorter University in Rome, Ga. That followed at eight-year term at Belmont Abby College in North Carolina where she was associate professor and director of secondary education.
“Dr. Leslie brings of professional experience and credibility within the profession,” said Dr. Nancy Krippel, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Brenau. “We are delighted that someone of her stature will be guiding our program as it prepares future generations of teachers and school administrators to addresses the critical issues in education.”
The ‘unconventional’ Latin teacher Sandra Leslie brings wealth of experience and credibility to key Brenau position.
One of those issues – economy-driven reductions in state and local budgets for schools and teacher salaries – has had a direct impact on the Brenau program in the past decades. Because of uncertainties over available jobs and compensation for advanced degrees in public schools, enrollment growth in the Brenau programs slowed dramatically in the past five years.
Leslie conceded that part of her job will be to help buck the trend and get enrollments back on the upswing. “We will do that,” she said, “by being the best program in the state of Georgia and by expanding our reputation for recruitment in other states as well.”
Leslie expressed confidence that the economy for public school education will improve. “To suggest that there will not be jobs available for educators is a short-sighted view,” she said. “We’re seeing a ‘graying’ of the teacher work force, for example. Between 33 and 50 percent of all teachers are approaching retirement age in the next few years, and someone will have to replace them.”
“Brenau is very highly regarded in the state,” said Leslie, who has also worked with the Board of Examiners for Georgia Institutions of Higher Education and on several institutional review teams for National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). “The College of Education has a great, committed faculty.” She pointed out that the university, functioning with an interim education dean, recently won reaffirmation of its NCATE accreditation without having to make any major adjustments to its academic programs, “and that is a credit to the quality of the faculty.”
Leslie attended Pennsylvania State University, where she majored in secondary education and Latin. However, after she graduated and began her career in Erie, Pa., as a self-described “very unconventional Latin teacher,” her husband, who had been based in the coastal Carolinas and Virginia as a member of the U.S. Marines, suggested a trip to the Carolinas, and before the weekend was up, Leslie recalled her husband had a new job and a new place for the family to live.
“It just seemed like it was meant to be,” she said, “Both of our children were raised in North Carolina. So, if you ask me where I am from, I’ll say the Carolinas.”
She earned a master’s degree in middle grades languages arts from Queens College in Charlotte, N.C., and a doctorate in education from the University of South Carolina. She has published and presented widely in educational forums with a significant portion of her research and expertise directed as use of technology in academics.
Significantly, the Brenau College of Education recently received recognition for having one of the nation’s top 10 online graduate education programs as a complement to its on-campus undergraduate and graduate offerings.
Brenau currently offers undergraduate Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees in education with specialties in early childhood education, middle grades education and special education; Bachelor of Music (B.M.) degrees in music education; Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degrees in dance education and art education; Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) degrees with specialties in early childhood, middle grades, special education and secondary education; Masters of Education (M.Ed.) degrees in early childhood education, middle grades education, and special education; and Education Specialist degrees (Ed.S.) in early childhood education and middle grades education.