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CHASSE Announces Upcoming Leadership Changes

An image of a sign that says University of Arkansas at Little Rock with the university's seal. The left side is grey, and the right side is red with two posts on either side.
University of Arkansas at Little Rock

The College of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences, and Education (CHASSE) has announced a number of leadership changes within the college, effective July 1, 2024.

Office of the Dean

Dr. Michael Norton, former co-director of the School of Human Inquiry, has accepted the position of Associate Dean for Student and Faculty Success for the college, replacing Dr. Johanna Miller Lewis, who retired in June after 33 years at UA Little Rock.

The major duties of this position include supervising and supporting the college’s Student Success Center—which houses the director of student services, five academic advisors, and the college’s student support specialist—developing and supporting faculty development initiatives, and working with faculty, academic units, and the Provost’s Office on curriculum and program development and review.

A headshot of Dr. Michael Norton.
Headshot of Dr. Michael Norton. Photo by Benjamin Krain.

As an associate professor and chair of philosophy, Norton coordinated four programs—anthropology, interdisciplinary studies, philosophy, and sociology—to establish the School of Human Inquiry in 2022. He was one of two faculty members to serve as the school’s first co-directors.

Prior to the formation of the School of Human Inquiry, Norton served in a variety of chair positions for departments, committees, and task forces. He has also been the co-organizer of the annual Arkansas High School Ethics Bowl for the past ten years.

Norton’s philosophy research touches on a variety of topics: religion, politics, climate change, and more. His forthcoming book “Anthropocene Religion: Rethinking Nature, Humanity, and Divinity Amid Climate Catastrophe” is expected to be released in 2025 by Edinburgh University Press.

“Dr. Norton has been an adept chair and co-director for all the units in which he has worked,” said CHASSE Dean Dr. Sarah Beth Estes. “For many years, he has worked closely with the Dean’s Office and his predecessor on curriculum and advising. The college will benefit greatly from having his skills in the dean’s office.”

School of Human Inquiry

A headshot of Dr. Neveen Shafeek Amin
Headshot of Dr. Neveen Shafeek Amin. Photo by Benjamin Krain.

With Norton’s move to the Office of the Dean, Dr. Neveen Shafeek Amin, associate professor of sociology, has been appointed to serve as interim co-director of the school, joining Dr. Kathryn King, current interim co-director.

Shafeek Amin joined UA Little Rock in 2015, and she has since received more than a dozen awards and grants for her research, teaching, and service. Shafeek Amin served as the School of Human Inquiry coordinator for the academic year 2023-2024, and she has also served as co-director of the Academy for Teaching and Learning Excellence (ATLE) at UA Little Rock since 2023. Most recently, she received the 2024 CHASSE Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching.

Her most recent nomination for the Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching highlighted her active-learning pedagogy. Along with her approach to hands-on learning, she has also developed new courses in the sociology program based on her areas of expertise: “Sociology of Health and Illness in the U.S.” and a special topics course on the immigrant experience.

“Dr. Shafeek Amin is a longtime faculty leader whose pedagogical skills and curriculum development will serve the new and growing School of Human Inquiry very well,” Estes said. “I am grateful for her willingness to step into an administrative position.”

School of Education

A headshot of Dr. Rachel Eells
Headshot of Dr. Rachel Eells. Photo by Brandon Paul Eells.

Dr. Rachel Eells, who served as interim director of the School of Education during the 2023-2024 academic year, has been named the inaugural Windgate Foundation Endowed Director of the School of Education.

The $3.5 million gift from the Windgate Foundation is designed to “support the transformation of teacher education at UA Little Rock in its quest to become a premier provider of teachers in the state,” according to a 2023 release.

Eells brings with her over a decade of leadership experience in higher education where she has served as a faculty member, department chair, dean, and vice president. She has developed new college programs, led during a college restructuring, and has extensive knowledge of accreditation, assessment, and compliance processes.

Her research takes an interdisciplinary approach that focuses on leadership, innovation, psychology, and education.

She was also recently named by Soirée Magazine as part of the 2024 Class of Women to Watch.

“Dr. Eells has just finished leading the pilot year of the Forward Arkansas funded teacher residency program in partnership with Jacksonville North Pulaski School District and Little Rock School District,” Estes said. “We are elated to have her in the director position to continue the transformation of our educator preparation program in the School of Education.”

Department of Rhetoric and Writing

A headshot of Dr. Jennifer Dawes.
Headshot of Dr. Jennifer Dawes. Photo by Benjamin Krain.

Dr. Jennifer Dawes has been selected as the next chair of the Department of Rhetoric and Writing, replacing Dr. Joyce Carter, who retired in June after nine years at UA Little Rock.

Dawes comes to UA Little Rock from Wichita Falls, Texas, where she served as chair of the department of English, humanities, and philosophy, as well as a professor of English, at Midwestern State University.

Prior to her tenure as department chair, she was an English professor at Henderson State University, a faculty member in the English/Writing program at Eastern Oregon University, and a faculty member in the English department at Idaho State University, as well as the American Studies Program Director.

Dawes has experience in student and faculty recruitment, retention, and support. She has served on a number of task forces and committees devoted to promoting student success.

Her research has covered popular culture topics, as well as tourism in the American West. She is currently working on a new publication that explores dark tourism in Texas.

Dawes’s pursuit of research, her dedication to student success, and the experience she brings to campus edifies the UA Little Rock community.

“Dr. Dawes joins us having already completed a successful stint as an external chair,” Estes said. “We are lucky to have her expertise in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing as we continue to modify our composition program to best meet student needs.”

These leadership changes went into effect on July 1, 2024.

“Since its founding in 2020, CHASSE has continued to recruit strong leadership in key positions,” Estes said. “In addition to successful faculty placements in combination with the strength of our existing faculty, these changes enhance the college’s curriculum, programming, community outreach, and ultimately, our success in serving students.”

To learn more about the College of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences, and Education, visit the college’s website or email