Provost Announcement

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce Donna Elder, Ed.D., as Interim Dean and Lori Piowlski, Ph.D., as Acting Associate Dean of the Sanford College of Education (SCOE).

Dr. Elder, who has been a member of the Sanford College of Education since 2007, has served as Associate Dean, Department Co-Chair of the Teacher Education Department, and was a faculty member in teacher education. Proving herself to be a creative and collaborative leader with a clear understanding of both the challenges and opportunities facing colleges of education, Dr. Elder has been instrumental in providing a forward and strategic vision on matters related to faculty, professional accreditation for SCOE, and academic programs.

With nearly 40 years of experience as a public and independent school teacher, coordinator, principal, and superintendent of schools for three school districts in California, Dr. Elder played a key role in supporting the growth and expansion of the Sanford Harmony and Sanford Inspire programs. Bringing experience from previous roles including the Director of the UCLA Laboratory School and Past-President of the International Laboratory Schools Association, she serves as Co-Director of NU’s Center for Innovation, Development, Evaluation, and Research. Dr. Elder, whose research agenda focuses on coaching and leadership, is co-editor of the textbook Transforming into an Educational Leader. She received her BS from Washington State University, MS from Texas A&M University, and her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of La Verne.

Dr. Piowlski, in addition to her role as Acting Associate Dean, will continue her current roles as an Associate Professor and Chair of the Teacher Education Department, which coordinates extensive clinical practice across California for over 1,000 student teachers and interns each year. Her dedication to empowering teacher candidates aligns with SCOE’s mission to support current and future educators as a champion for inspired teaching and learning. Dr. Piowlski’s strong research portfolio and practice are centered on teacher leadership and preparation, clinical practice, educational literacy, assessment advancement, and the intersections related to equity and access. At NU, she has played an integral role in the development and launch of the new customized Master of Arts in Education; serves as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and serves as a representative of NU at the state level on the CCTE Communications Committee, the CTC Intersegmental Project: Professional Development for District Employed Supervisors, and as a CalTPA Coordinator.

Prior to higher education faculty roles, Dr. Piowlski served as an elementary and special education teacher for Pre-K-12 with a focus on culturally proficient teaching. She is co-author of the book, Culturally Proficient Schools, All Means ALL and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in Educational Administration in Higher Education.

I am delighted and appreciative that Dr. Elder and Dr. Piowlski have agreed to lead SCOE while a national search for a new dean is conducted. SCOE has been on a positive trajectory, and I am confident that the College will continue to thrive under their leadership. I look forward to their continued contributions as we diligently work together to align our efforts and increase collaboration across departments and programs in support of student success and quality education.


Gangaram Singh, Ph.D.
Executive Vice Provost & Provost