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Filling Critical Roles: College welcomes new leaders

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Media Contact: Kirsi McDowell | Senior Communications Specialist | 405-744-9347 |

College of Education and Human Sciences programs and people are distinguished by a passion to enhance and improve the human experience. Four individuals began new roles in college leadership this fall. They reflect that passion, working each day with faculty, staff and students to support innovative teaching, research, engagement and inclusion. 

Dr. Stephen Clarke, associate dean for Research and Graduate StudiesDr. Stephen Clarke, associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies

After five years as department head for Nutritional Sciences, Clarke stepped into the role of associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies in July. A native Oklahoman, Clarke has been a faculty member at Oklahoma State University since 2007. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. His research fields are biochemistry and cell biology, nutrition and dietetics, and sport and exercise nutrition.

Clarke has served the OSU campus in a variety of roles, including chair of OSU Faculty Council, chair of the Healthcare and Wellness Committee, member of the OSU Athletics Diversity and Inclusion Council and a Faculty Athletics Representative. He is a member of the Board of Human Sciences of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Association of Nutrition Departments and Programs.

“Dr. Clarke’s background in research and graduate studies positions him so well for taking on his new role,” said Dr. Jon Pedersen, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences.. “His passion for faculty and student development will take us to the next level and we are ecstatic that he is leading this office.”

What excites you most about serving as associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies?
“The college has outstanding faculty, students and staff who are committed to making this the preeminent College of Education and Human Sciences. Research, scholarship and the creative activities of faculty and students in the college are directed at improving or positively impacting the lives of children, individuals, families and communities. Our work is truly making a difference in the lives of others. There’s nothing more rewarding than highlighting and celebrating the successes of our faculty and graduate students.

“Working in a college that values the diversity of scholarship and encourages and recognizes collaboration within, between or among academic units, is exciting to me. I’m excited to work with faculty, students, staff and administrators to enhance the research profile and reputation of the College of Education and Human Sciences.”

Can you talk about the research strengths of the college and how to build upon them?
“Our strength is in the diversity of research, scholarship and creative activities. In Research and Graduate Studies, we’re committed to providing services that are designed to support optimization of faculty research productivity. One of our goals is to further grow external funding which provides resources that can enhance the impact of our scholarship. I’m excited to work alongside and in collaboration with faculty, students and staff to ensure that we are providing the support and infrastructure so that we can maximize the impact of our research and scholarship.”


Dr. Darius Prier, associate dean for Equity and InclusionDr. Darius Prier, associate dean for Equity and Inclusion

Prier began serving as the college’s first associate dean for Equity and Inclusion in July 2022. He is also an associate professor in the School of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Aviation.

Prier earned a Ph.D. from Miami (Ohio) University and came to Stillwater from Duquesne University, where he served as an associate professor, associate dean for teacher education and interim chair in the Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership. At the university level, Prier was a member of the President’s Advisory Council for Diversity and Inclusion.

Nationally, Prier is a steering committee member of Education Deans for Justice and Equity (EDJE). While at Duquesne, he co-founded Project Hope, an interdisciplinary network and learning hub for scholars, teachers, educational leaders and community advocates — addressing youth in homelessness. In addition, he developed the School of Education's Equity Education Certificate for pre-service teachers, among a host of other equity-oriented initiatives.

“Dr. Prier is a leader nationally for equity and inclusion with his work at Duquesne University. His experience and expertise will assist our college in such an important manner,” Pedersen said. “We’re excited to welcome him to the Cowboy family.” 

What does that mean to you to be the first associate dean for Equity and Inclusion in the College of Education and Human Sciences? 

“I’m honored to be selected and appreciate the confidence the dean, leadership team, faculty, staff and students have for me in such an important role. Institutionalizing such a position means the leadership in the college, and the university as a whole, expresses a desire for continued growth and development in equity and inclusion efforts. I take a tremendous amount of responsibility, care and pride in working collaboratively to lay a solid foundation to institute policies, practices, programs and initiatives that will foster an equitable environment for CEHS in the future.

What drew you to OSU and the College of Education and Human Sciences? 

“Equity and inclusion efforts require an intentional engagement with diverse constituencies in local communities, where theoretical knowledge can be applied to practice in ways that advance the social, economic and life-chance opportunities of underserved communities. This approach closely aligns with OSU’s land-grant mission, and will contribute to the work ahead in our college. The collection of programs in our college offers a landscape of multidisciplinary collaborative opportunities to tackle a host of social, psychological, educational and health related challenges to meet the city, state and nation’s most pressing concerns in this COVID moment. I’m excited about the impact our college can make locally, nationally and globally when our expertise is leveraged through the lens of equity and inclusion.”


Dr. Gina Peek, associate dean for Extension, Engagement and Continuing Education Dr. Gina Peek, associate dean for Extension, Engagement and Continuing Education

Peek serves in a dual role, as both associate dean for Extension, Engagement and Continuing Education in the College of Education and Human Sciences and assistant director for OSU Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. Peek came to OSU in 2010 as an assistant professor and Extension specialist — housing and consumer. She holds a Ph.D. in housing and consumer economics from the University of Georgia.

Peek is a member of OSU’s Strategy Steering Committee and previously served as OSU Faculty Council Chair (2021-2022) and associate head of the Department of Design and Merchandising.  

“Dr. Peek’s passion and purpose is and has always been people,” Pedersen said. “Her commitment to Extension and engagement makes this role a perfect fit for her. We are so eager to see how she impacts our college in the next few years.”

What do you want people to know about Family and Consumer Sciences Extension?

“We play a pivotal role in the land-grant mission. We embrace it and we're supporting it every day. We’re a classroom for the entire state of Oklahoma. We focus on issues that affect our daily lives, offering resources and programs related to health, hunger, finances, family breakdown, resilience and more. I want people to know that Extension is available to them.” 

What most excites you about your role? 

The Extension tagline is Education Everywhere for Everyone. I love that. We take the university to the people, helping Oklahoma families and youth grow in safe, healthy ways. I truly believe we can elevate the entire university through our work. I’m excited to continue building relationships and to grow Family and Consumer Sciences Extension across our college.”


Dr. Carlos Valiente, Human Development and Family Science department headDr. Carlos Valiente, department head for Human Deveopment and Family Science

Valiente is the new department head for Human Development and Family Science (HDFS). Valiente came to OSU from Arizona State University, where he served as a professor in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics. He also earned his Ph.D. in Family Science from ASU. 

“We are so excited about Dr. Valiente and what he brings to HDFS and our college. His leadership will be a tremendous asset and we are so happy that he is part of our college family,” Pedersen said. 

What drew you to OSU and what excites you most about your new role?

“I was inspired by the dedication to produce and share knowledge that enriches the lives of individuals in Oklahoma and beyond. I am really looking forward to supporting the professional development of our staff and faculty, and I am excited to work with them to advance our course offerings and to generate new knowledge that we can efficiently share with our communities.”

 What are some of the strengths of the department?

“I’m struck by the friendly atmosphere of scholarship taking place here. The HDFS community works to improve lives and communities in many ways. For example, we provide high-quality pre-school, train early elementary school teachers, and offer courses on aging. Our faculty also train the next generation of marriage and family therapists, work to improve the well-being of immigrant populations and support the quality of life for individuals with intellectual disabilities.”

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