Baylor alum to return as School of Education dean


By Amanda Yarger

After a lengthy search, Dr. Michael K. McLendon will be returning back to his alma mater as the new dean for Baylor’s School of Education.

Dr. David Garland, the university’s provost and executive vice president, announced the news Thursday morning. The search for the new dean began nine months ago following Dr. Jon Engelhardt’s announcement he would be retiring.

McLendon will assume the role of dean of the School of Education on July 1.

“I think he brings important knowledge and important background,” Engelhardt said. “He has served as executive associate dean at Vanderbilt, as well as his current position at SMU. While undergraduate teaching education is not his field, he has the experience, and I think that will keep us moving.”

McLendon is a professor and associate dean of Southern Methodist University’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Engelhardt will be retiring after his eight years serving as dean for the School of Education, and he plans to stay in Waco with his family.

“As a Baptist, a sixth-generation Texan and a proud Baylor alum, I am honored by the opportunity to return home to Baylor, to help this great university achieve the fullness of its vision, ‘Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana, Pro Futuris,’” McLendon said in a press release.

Members of the decision committee met weekly to discuss the candidates and the criteria the applicants would be expected to meet, said Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez, associate professor of journalism.

Moody-Ramirez served as an outside faculty member to the committee that consisted of 11 members, including a graduate student, faculty and the divisional dean for humanities and social sciences.

“I think [McLendon] stood out because of his background skills,” Moody-Ramirez said. “He had a great research agenda and just talking to him we thought he would be a great fit. He had all the qualifications. Some people fit some of the qualities, some fit most, but he fit all the qualifications.”

Moody-Ramirez said additional factors that made McLendon a strong candidate included his dedication to diversifying the campus and emphasizing service opportunities.

“We saw him as someone who has vision,” she said. “Someone who could hit the ground running.”

McLendon earned his bachelor in political science in 1991 from Baylor. After his graduation from Baylor, he worked under U.S. Sen. David Pryor, in Washington D.C., as he simultaneously earned his master’s degree at Florida State University. Following his time in D.C., he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, according to a press release.

“I’m very pleased with the selection of Michael to take over,” Engelhardt said. “One thing when you’re the retiring departing dean, one of the sort-of personal feelings you have is you think you’ve worked really hard to put something well in place and the thing you want the most is someone to pick up the gauntlet and carry it in a positive way. I think with Michael we have that.”