Economics Prof is New Dean of Undergrad Education
Popular Teacher and Scholar Has Served in a Succession of Administrative Roles
May 20, 2010
Dr. Sheila Amin Gutiérrez de Piñeres, a professor in the School of Economics, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS) and interim dean of the McDermott Library, has accepted an appointment as the dean of undergraduate education at UT Dallas.
Piñeres will succeed Dr. J. Michael Coleman beginning this fall. Coleman has served as associate provost and dean of undergraduate education since 1997.
“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to serve the University and the undergraduate student body,” Piñeres said. “After 14 years of teaching at UT Dallas, I’ve seen firsthand how our undergraduate students can set the standard for changing the world for the better, whether by vaccinating nomadic people in Sudan or crafting legislation in the Texas State Legislature, and I look forward to helping continue that trend.”
As dean, Piñeres plans to meet with students, faculty and staff to learn how to improve the undergraduate experience, as well as continue efforts to attract high-quality students.
In announcing the appointment of Piñeres, Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, executive vice president and provost noted, “Her qualifications start with a record as an outstanding classroom teacher, as a passionate advocate of individual student achievement and as eloquent spokesperson for UT Dallas. She also has proven herself to be a dynamic leader and a creative and energetic administrator. We are fortunate as a University, and our students are fortunate, collectively and individually, that she has volunteered to assume the vitally important and demanding position.
“Succeeding Mike Coleman as dean, someone who has played an immense and historic role in creating the UT Dallas of today, would be a challenge for anyone. Dr. Piñeres is one of the few individuals I know who has the capabilities to continue his long string of accomplishments with future achievements that will be comparable.”
A professor of economics and political economy, Piñeres will succeed Coleman, under whose leadership undergraduate education has developed into a powerful and distinctive feature of UT Dallas’ institutional profile.
“Over the past 10 years, Dean Coleman has not only built the undergraduate program, but has provided students with opportunities,” Piñeres said. “Building upon this foundation will be exciting, as we look to advance the undergraduate program and create new opportunities for hard working and talented students.”
Coleman was equally complimentary and enthusiastic about Piñeres’ appointment.
“I’m thankful that someone with Dr. Piñeres’ expertise, experience and conviction has agreed to assume a leadership position in our continued efforts to forge an undergraduate university that the ‘best and brightest’ young people of Texas are proud to call home,” Coleman said.
Since joining UT Dallas, Piñeres has served as associate dean for undergraduate education in EPPS, as head of the public policy and political economy program in EPPS and, during 2006-2008, while serving as associate provost, directed the Office of Enrollment Services.
During 2009, she led the initiative to secure UT Dallas’ presence at the Collin Higher Education Center (CHEC) in McKinney, a partnership among UT Dallas, Collin College and four other area universities. The CHEC opened in January, offering Collin County residents convenient access to undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
In February of this year, she was appointed interim dean of the McDermott Library, a position she will continue to occupy while a national search is conducted to select a successor to the previous dean, Dr. Larry Sall. Most recently, she was named an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow. She will complete the fellowship in 2012.
Piñeres received her PhD in economics from Duke University in 1992 and joined UT Dallas in 1996, moving from a faculty position at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. She is the author of Guns, Drugs & Development in Colombia with Kevin M. Curtin and fellow EPPS professor Jennifer Holmes. She also is the author or co-author of numerous articles on such topics as development economics, international economics and Latin America.
She is on the board of the North Texas Chapter of the Fulbright Association and is a member of the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations.
The Office of Undergraduate Education coordinates undergraduate education across the University’s seven schools and manages the freshman admission review process and academic excellence scholarship programs.
The office also is responsible for coordination of academic advising, administering the teaching evaluation system, monitoring academic compliance for NCAA athletes, managing pre-professional training programs, and supervising the Collegium V honors program, as well as all intellectual competition teams.
Dr. J. Michael Coleman discusses his tenure in a recent video interview.
Departing Dean Presided Over
Dr. J. Michael Coleman has served as dean of undergraduate education since 1997. He also is a professor of psychology in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, where he and his students have studied developmental processes in identity formation and maintenance for more than 20 years. His primary teaching responsibilities have been in experimental design and statistical analysis.
During Coleman’s tenure as dean of undergraduate education, the size of the freshman class has grown from 564 to 1,343 while the average SAT score of entering freshmen has consistently been one of the highest among Texas public universities.
Beyond growth in numbers, Coleman has introduced and championed innovative improvements in the quality of the UT Dallas undergraduate experience, including:
“The University has provided me several careers, and that’s undoubtedly the reason I’ve stayed so long,” Coleman explained in a recent interview. “I think one of the truly most fulfilling parts of these 32 years is to be able to be part of creating a comprehensive undergraduate University.
“I think the future of the University lies in the expectations and demands of the people who graduate from it,” Coleman continued. “I went to Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia. I left both of them over 40 years ago. They were good universities; they are great universities today. I expect exactly the same thing to happen for this University, and I expect it to happen because the bright young men and women that are graduating from it will simply demand that it happen.”
Coleman is retiring after more than 32 years at UT Dallas. He will remain part of the faculty and will continue to provide analytical feedback about student body growth and development.
“There’s nothing cooler than being with bright young people every day,” Coleman added. “It keeps you young, it keeps you flexible and it’s worth a lot of things that I might have given up to pursue this career. To me, there’s no greater treasure.”