PULLMAN, Wash.–Judy Nichols Mitchell, interim executive director of the Center for Excellence in Education at Northern Arizona University, has been appointed dean of Washington State University’s College of Education.
Mitchell has been a member of the University of Arizona education faculty since 1976 and is on leave from UA in Tucson to head the education center at Northern Arizona in Flagstaff.
Making the announcement today, WSU Provost Gretchen M. Bataille said, “Dr. Mitchell brings to the position leadership experiences at a Research I university, as well as from a leading teaching education program. She will be a strong advocate for the college and an important voice for education in the state.”
The appointment is effective July 1; however, Mitchell will not be permanently in the office until August, Bataille said.
Mitchell succeeds Bernard Oliver, who resigned last year to become education dean at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Walter Gmelch, who has served as interim dean, has been named dean at Iowa State University.
A 1960 graduate in education from the University of Michigan, Mitchell earned a master’s degree in reading education and a doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Northwestern University.
Mitchell is a full professor with tenure in the UA Department of Language, Reading and Culture and served as head of the department from 1988-94. She was a faculty associate to the provost during 1994-96.
Among her appointments at UA is membership on the President’s Advisory Council, the Strategic Planning and Budget Committee, and the Faculty Development Team, which received a Governor’s Spirit of Excellence Recognition Award for its support of innovative teaching. Mitchell has chaired the president’s Commission on the Status of Women since 1994.
She has presented more than 120 invited programs for various professional education groups during her career and is co-author of “Understanding readers’ understanding,” published in 1987. She has authored a number of publications for the literacy research community, as well as for teachers and other practitioners.
“I’m delighted to become associated with WSU because of its commitment to the preparation of education professionals and because of its leadership role in the state,” Mitchell said. “I look forward to contributing to the fine programs at WSU and to meeting the challenges ahead.”

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