Academic realignment: meet the new instructional deans

A note from the Vice President of Instruction: 

ACC has restructured its administrative dean divisions to align with Areas of Study to help streamline and enhance student pathways within areas of study and provide better support for the programs engaged in this work. This is the first change to ACC’s basic administrative structure for the instructional division since 1998, a much-needed move to maintain the high levels of operational support needed.

We are pleased to introduce six newly-appointed deans:

Brandon Whatley, Dean, Design, Manufacturing, Construction & Applied Technology

After a wide-ranging career as a professional welder, Whatley began his community college tenure in 2002 as a department head for Welding Technology at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell (ENMU). In 2009, Whatley was hired as the Department Chair for Welding Technology at ACC and served as the Interim Dean for Applied Technology, Multimedia, and Public Services for the past two years. He holds an AAS in Welding Technology from ENMU- Roswell, a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Education, and a Master’s degree in Professional Technical Education from ENMU-Portales. As a nontraditional community college graduate, Whatley is a staunch believer in the opportunities created for students in career and technical fields. He believes the potential in a new student at a community college is not often realized by the individual until instructional staff and/or support staff show them confidence in that potential. Believing in their capabilities enhances a student’s will to find their “Pathway” toward a successful career or continued education that leads to a successful career.

Matthew Daude Laurents, Dean, Liberal Arts – Humanities & Communication

Dr. Daude Laurents has taught philosophy at ACC for almost thirty years.  He served as Department Chair of Philosophy for 25 years before serving as interim Dean of Arts & Humanities for three years. During graduate school at UT, he trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and worked in the mental health field, first as director of the adolescent schizophrenic unit in a private psychiatric hospital, and later as a clinical director for a residential treatment center. He has worked as a musician throughout, serving as arranger, conductor, and organist in a number of settings.

Dr. Daude Laurents  earned bachelor’s degrees in music and history from Southwestern University in Georgetown.  He earned a master’s degree in religion at the University of Chicago and then returned to Texas where he earned his master’s and a doctorate in Philosophy at The University of Texas at Austin.  Daude Laurents reports that his work as a bus driver for a medium-sized school district is most indicative of his leadership and management skills.  He drove 75 sixth graders two hours each school day, maintaining reasonable discipline on the bus with no casualties.

Thomas Nevill, Dean, Arts and Digital Media  

Dr. Nevill holds a Doctor of Musical Arts and a Master’s degree in Percussion Performance from The University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a Bachelor of Music degree from Eastern Illinois University. He most recently served as Dean of Arts & Humanities at Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ. Prior experience includes Division Chair of Business, Creative & Performing Arts at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, NC, and Chair of the Department of Music and founder of the Percussion Studies Program at The University of Texas at Brownsville (now UTRGV).

Dr. Nevill is an active member of the Percussive Arts Society and had chaired the PAS Scholarly Research Committee. He is an artist/clinician for Evans Drumheads, Pearl/Adams Musical Instruments, SABIAN Cymbals and a member of the Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets Education Team. He remains active throughout the United States and Mexico as a percussion performer, educator, scholar, and academic administrator.

Lorlie Elllis, Dean of Business

Dr. Ellis was most recently an Associate Dean of Business at Milwaukee Area Technical College. She earned an Ed.D. in Educational Administration-Higher Education from Texas Southern University, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Texas A&M University-Commerce, and a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) from Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Giao Phan, Dean, Public and Social Services

Dr. Phan has served as the Founding Department Chair and Professor of the Education Instruction Department at ACC for ten years. Under her leadership, the Associate of Arts in Teaching program has evolved from a conceptual framework to the present day community-based program focused on training prospective public school teachers. Dr. Phan began her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer where she served as an English Teacher Trainer in the Philippines. She also co-founded a middle school in the South Bronx and served in various public school administrative positions.  She received the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development and the Alpha Gamma Theta Kappa Honor Society Excellence in Teaching awards. Dr. Phan received her master’s degree from Teachers College Columbia University and her doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin in Educational Policy and Planning.

Samuel Echevarria-Cruz, Dean, Liberal Arts-Social and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Echevarria-Cruz has served as a professor of Sociology at ACC since 2009. Before that he was an adjunct faculty member since 2005. While at ACC, he has held positions as Assistant Dean for Social & Behavioral Sciences, Department Chair of Sociology and Social Work, and President of the Faculty Senate. He also spent a year in Romania as a Fulbright scholar in the 2015-2016 academic year.

Dr. Echevarria-Cruz is originally from Brownsville, Texas. He graduated with a PhD in Sociology from The University of Texas at Austin. Before coming to ACC, he held faculty positions in Sociology at The Ohio State University and Columbus State Community College.  He has also recently served as an adjunct faculty member at Concordia University Texas.  Previous professional positions include roles at UT-Austin in Human Resources (research), undergraduate academic advising, and service as a community college education researcher at CCSSE (Community College Survey of Student Engagement).  Dr. Echevarria-Cruz was also employed in the private sector as a survey statistician and statistical consultant.

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