Kevin Leonard, PhD, has been selected as the new dean of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville College of Arts and Sciences. Leonard will assume the role effective July 1.
Leonard (shown) brings nearly a decade’s worth of administrative experience in strategic planning, the recruitment, hiring, mentoring and evaluation of faculty, program assessment and budget management. He most recently served as professor and chairperson in the Department of History at Middle Tennessee State University since 2017. Prior to that, he served as chair of the Department of History at Western Washington University from 2011-17.
“I want to thank the search committee chairs, Drs. Gillian Acheson and Jessica DeSpain, and the members of the committee who worked to build a strong and diverse pool for this important leadership position,” said Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Denise Cobb, PhD. “I am excited that Dr. Leonard will be joining the SIUE campus community. His commitment to a teacher-scholar model is apparent in his work as a faculty member and his efforts as a chair.
“I am enthusiastic about the careful and collaborative leadership style that he will bring in service of the college and the university. I look forward to working with Dr. Leonard in supporting the work of students, faculty and staff.”
“The College of Arts and Sciences is critical to SIUE’s success not only because of the excellent courses offered to students in all majors as part of a general education, but also because of the outstanding teaching and research occurring in specific CAS disciplines,” added Chancellor Randy Pembrook. “We enthusiastically welcome Dr. Leonard to SIUE and know he will provide outstanding leadership to our community, building on the record and accomplishments of our retiring CAS Dean Greg Budzban.”
“I look forward to continuing my career at a doctoral university where I can support an institutional commitment to academic excellence,” Leonard said. “I am particularly impressed by SIUE’s outstanding record of community service. Throughout my career, I have been a strong advocate for equity, inclusion and diversity, and I want to continue my work at a university that is committed to affordability and diversity.
“CAS has the potential to exert significant influence on the region, nation and world as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Students, alumni, and faculty have the potential to work cooperatively with elected and appointed officials, public health experts, and private employers to shape the economic recovery, to prepare for future crises, and to prevent the spread of contagious disease.
“For many years, CAS graduates have gone on to change Southern Illinois, the United States and the world. I expect CAS to continue to graduate highly-prepared students whose knowledge, skills and creativity will serve them and their employers well.”
Leonard’s scholarly expertise focuses on 20th century U.S. history, history of the U.S. West, African American history and LGBTQ history. His current research involves race and the policing of gender identity and expression in the 1940s, and religious freedom in the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s. He authored the book The Battle for Los Angeles: Racial Ideology and World War II, and has an extensive publishing record including peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and more.
Leonard’s academic journey in higher education began as a lecturer in the California State University Hayward Department of History in 1993, before he served as a visiting assistant professor of history at the University of New Mexico later that year. Before joining the Western Washington faculty in 1997, he was an assistant professor in the Antioch College Department of History from 1994-97.
Leonard earned both a master’s and doctorate in history from the University of California, Davis. He received a bachelor’s in history from Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.
Leonard succeeds Greg Budzban, PhD, who will step down from the dean role on June 30. Budzban will remain at SIUE as a professor in the CAS Department of Mathematics and Statistics and will work to support SIUE’s contributions in data analytics.