NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.– Westminster College has selected Dr. Jeffrey Scott Coker to serve as the next Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Westminster College following a national search. Coker will begin his appointment at Westminster in June 2017.
“We are delighted to have Dr. Coker joining us at Westminster this summer,” said President Kathy Brittain Richardson. “His accomplishments as a science educator and liberal arts administrator prepare him well for academic leadership here. He is deeply committed to fostering excellence in liberal arts education and to the importance of experiential education for all students.”
“Westminster is a gem in the higher education landscape, with a long history of transforming lives,” said Coker. “I have been deeply impressed by the talent and sincerity of its students, the commitment of its faculty and staff, the strength of its senior leadership, and the dedication of its alumni. The future of Westminster looks very bright, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.”
Coker currently serves as director of the Elon Core Curriculum and associate professor of biology at Elon University in Elon, NC. As director, Coker provides oversight for more than 120 faculty who teach Core Curriculum courses each year. He led the revision of First-Year Foundations courses for the university, implemented an interdisciplinary capstone project requirement for all students, doubled the experiential learning requirement for all students, and created new advising materials. He also led the common reading program, developed intellectual events for all first-year students, and helped to create a new summer orientation program for incoming students.
Coker recently received the 2016 “Outstanding Leader in Experiential Education Award” from the National Society of Experiential Education. He has presented numerous teaching-related workshops for other universities and associations, and published widely on experiential learning and high-impact educational practices. Coker is the author of two books/manuals and more than 60 scholarly articles, posters and other publications.
As a biologist, Coker led in the establishment of the Elon University Forest, a campus preserve for teaching and research. He has taught a field biology course in Peru and developed a novel course called “Reinventing Life” for general student populations. Along with teaching responsibilities in biology, Coker has also taught several interdisciplinary courses at Elon University and helped to develop dozens of others.
After earning his Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Davidson College, Coker received a master of education degree in science education and a doctorate in plant biology from North Carolina State University where his dissertation was recognized with the Pollock Award. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Omicron Delta Kappa.
As an undergraduate of Davidson, an outstanding small liberal arts college, Coker said he looks forward to bringing his deep commitment to undergraduate liberal arts education, student success and high-impact educational practices to Westminster College.
In his free time, Coker enjoys the arts, hiking, house restoration, sports, and scuba diving. He will be joined in New Wilmington with his wife, Beth, and their three sons.
Coker succeeds Dr. Susanne Wood, interim Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College.
The Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) brings vision and direction to Westminster’s educational future by providing leadership and momentum for the faculty and the College’s curriculum. The position provides oversight of the curriculum; is responsible for all faculty personnel matters; supervises academic departments; provides leadership on issues of program development and funding for program support; and manages all elements of the academic administration. As chief academic officer and member of the president’s Cabinet, the VPAA serves as an advocate for the faculty and the academic program, maintains close communication with the president and fellow senior administrators, and serves in a liaison role to selected committees of the Board of Trustees.