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CSPA Faculty Profiles

Core Faculty


Dr. Pietro Sasso

Dr. Sasso holds an M.S. in Student Affairs and Counseling from the University of Rochester and a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Old Dominion University. He brings over 10 years of progressive administrative responsibility working in several functional areas including student activities, residence life, and student success.  He is the author and editor of Today’s College Students, Higher Education & Society, Colleges at the Crossroads: Taking Sides on Contested Issues, and The Dynamic Student Development Meta-Theory:  A New Model for Student Success. His research interests include identity construction of traditional undergraduates (college student development), alcohol misuse in higher education (student health outcomes), the impact of the college fraternity experience, and masculinity in higher education. He teaches EPFR 514: College Student Learning and Development, EPFR 503: Research Methods in Higher Education, EPFR 516: Individual and Group Dynamics, EDAD 594: Final Research Project, and EDAD 594: Final Research Project. He currently serves as the Program Director of the CSPA program.


Dr. Laurel Puchner

Dr. Puchner holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and is a Professor of Educational Psychology and Chair of the Department of Educational Leadership. She teaches qualitative research methods and educational psychology in a variety of graduate programs, including K-12 administrator preparation and college student personnel administration. She has published in the areas of women’s literacy in developing countries, professional development of teachers, action research, and teacher education for social justice. She is currently doing research on how higher education leaders view their own and their institutions’ efforts to promote diversity and to meet the needs of diverse students. She has been active in SIUE’s Safe Zone for the past 12 years, serving primarily in the areas of training and curriculum development. She teaches Research Methods and Final Project within the program. 


Dr. Tianlong Yu 

Dr. Yu holds a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Binghamton. His research includes social foundations of education, moral education, multicultural education, and comparative education. He teaches EPFR 522: Diversity in Higher Education.

Dr. Snipes

Dr. J.T. Snipes

J.T. Snipes is Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Prior to his faculty appointment he worked for over 12 years in higher education administration. Most recently he worked for Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) the largest interfaith organization in America. Currently, his research interest focuses on religion and spirituality in higher education, African American collegiate students, and critical race theory in education. He recently completed his award-winning dissertation entitled, “Ain’t I Black Too: Counterstories of Black Atheist in College.” It explores the narratives of secular African American students in college. He is currently editing a volume on critical religion and spirituality in higher education.

Affiliate Faculty


Dr. Jeffrey Waple

Dr. Waple earned a doctorate in educational administration in 2000 from Illinois State University, a master’s in guidance and counseling in 1995 from Eastern Michigan University and a bachelor’s in biology from Heidelberg University in 1991.Dr. Waple has over 20 years of professional service in student affairs and currently is the Vice-Chancellor at SIUE where he provides leadership the entire Division of Student Affairs. He teaches EDAD 574: Leadership and Administration of Higher Education.


Dr. Monica Kempland

Dr. Kempland received her PhD in Higher Education Administration from St. Louis University and her MS in Kinesiology-Sport and Exercise Behavior.  Dr. Kempland advises students majoring in Health Education, Exercise Science, and Nutrition at SIUE.  She has over eight years of academic advising experience, specializing in advising those interested in health-related professions. Dr. Kempland’s research interest is focused on student development theory, pre-professional health advising, and anxiety reduction among college-aged students.  Dr. Kempland has published and presented her research nationally and regionally, and is a member of the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions and the National Academic Advising Association. She teaches EDAD 554: Practicum and EPFR 514: College Student Learning and Development.

Price Williams

Dr. Shelley Price Williams

Shelley Price-Williams, Ph.D., received her doctorate in higher education administration from Saint Louis University (2015) and completed a M.S. in Counseling and a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Memphis. She holds almost two decades of experience in student and academic affairs spanning program development and management as well as academic advising, career counseling, and assessment. Dr. Price-Williams is currently the Coordinator of the MBA/Student Services and Transitions in the School of Business at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She also serves as affiliate faculty in the College Student Personnel Administration (CSPA) program at the same. Dr. Price-Williams is experienced in the use of mixed-methods with a proclivity for qualitative research. Her research interests center on non-cognitive factors of college student development and persistence, as well as inclusion of non-dominant groups in the college environment. She teaches EDAD 554: Practicum, EPFR 514: College Student Learning and Development, and EDAD 564: The Community College. 


Dr. Emelyn Dela Peña

Dr. Emelyn Dela Peña is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Dela Peña has over 20 years in higher education. She graduated from the University of California – San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies, earned her master’s degree in education from San Diego State University and her doctor of education through a joint program of UC San Diego, San Diego State and California State University – San Marcos. She previously has held faculty appointments at Salem State University and Merrimack College in their student affairs/higher education programs and served as Assistant Dean of Student Life for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Harvard University.


Dr. Sarah Laux

Dr. Sarah Laux earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Saint Louis University. She has close to 10 years of experience in student affairs and higher education in areas of student life, community engagement & philanthropy, and admissions. Dr. Laux is currently the Associate Director of the Kimmel Student Involvement Center at SIUE and is entering her 8th academic year at SIUE. She has been an active member of ACPA – College Student Educators International since 2010 and has served on several convention planning teams in various roles.


Dr. Franklyn Taylor

Dr. Franklyn Taylor holds an EdD from educational leadership is from Northern Arizona University. He is Vice President of Student Affairs at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park. Previously, he was Assistant Campus dean for student affairs and enrollment management at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County and worked in mid-level positions in residence life at Northern Arizona University and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.


Dr. Kevin Thomas 

Dr. Kevin Thomas serves as Director of Retention and Student Success at SIUE and holds a Doctorate of Education from Western Kentucky University. He assists in the coordination of some of the academic advising placements for the program and teaches special topics the new course Advising & Student Success. Dr. Thomas was chair of the 2017 National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) annual conference in St. Louis.


Dr. Kyle R. Williams

Dr. Kyle R. Williams serves as the Assistant Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards at Washington University in St. Louis. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Voice from Otterbein College, Masters of Science in Education from Old Dominion University and a Doctorate in Education from Texas A&M University-Commerce. He is also active within his professional associations: The American College Personnel Association (ACPA) where he serves on the 2019 Boston Convention Planning Team and past chair for the Pan-African Network; the Southern Association for College Student Affairs (SACSA) where he serves as a member of the Multicultural Awareness Committee and presenter for the Graduate Student Symposium; and the Association of Student Conduct Administrators (ASCA) where he is active in the Diversity Committee and past recipient for the Diversity Scholarship.


Dr. Geet Vanaik

Dr. Geet Vanaik is Dean of International Affairs at Greenville University.  In 2015, Dr. Vanaik was appointed to chair of the International Education Council (IEC) for Missouri and Illinois. Dr. Vanaik received her Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership from Maryville University in St. Louis and her Masters in Biotechnology Management from SIUE.

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