Torero Tidbits: Interim Deans Dalton, Spencer Start; CAS Conversation; Summer Research Colloquium

Joi Spencer, PhD, is the new interim dean for the School of Leadership and Education Sciences.Dr. Joi Spencer, left, and Margaret Dalton '94 (JD), have been named interim dean for the School of Leadership and Education Sciences and the School of Law, respectively.

July signifies not only a new month on the calendar, but for two schools at the University of San Diego — the School of Law and the School of Leadership and Education Sciences — it is also the start of a leadership transition for their respective dean positions.

Effective this month, School of Law alumna Margaret A. Dalton '94, JD, becomes the interim dean for the School of Law and Joi Spencer, PhD, becomes interim dean for SOLES, Provost and Vice President Gail F. Baker, PhD, announced recently.

Dalton, vice dean and law professor in the USD School of Law, replaces Stephen Ferruolo, JD, PhD. Ferruolo, who arrived at USD in 2011 to become dean, will remain at USD as a tenured member of the law faculty and will continue to oversee its transactional law team.

Spencer, associate dean and professor in SOLES, takes on the interim role replacing Nicholas Ladany, PhD, who was hired as the 17th president of Oglethorpe University, a private liberal arts college in Atlanta, Ga.

Baker made campus announcements about the respective deans stepping down earlier this academic year. She announced the interim selections in recent weeks.

“Margaret’s distinguished career, dedication to the USD School of Law and strong record of strategic leadership exemplifies her enormous potential in serving as interim dean,” Baker said. “I am confident she will build on her exceptional service to advance our reputation for academic excellence and meet the challenges of moving our students, faculty and community forward during these complex and unpredictable times.”

Before serving as vice dean, Dalton served as a School of Law associate dean. Previously, Dalton was the faculty director for Clinical and Placement Education, which includes clinical education and field placements. During her 12 years as director of the Legal Clinics, she doubled the number of clinics, including establishing partnerships with the California Board of Equalization and the Legal Aid Employment Law Center. She was the supervising attorney for the Education and Disability Clinic for 13 years, which she created in 2003 with a discretionary award from The California Endowment. In 2016, she developed a Special Education Law and Advocacy Series for parents and professionals to learn the basics of special education law. Dalton teaches special education law, family law, and experiential courses. Her work has been recognized with multiple awards and honors for excellence in legal education.

Spencer, meanwhile, takes on her new responsibilities while also leading the way with SOLES’ newest degree, a PhD in Education for Social Justice program, that welcomed its first cohort in Fall 2019. Spencer is co-founder of STEAM Academy and the STEAM Youth and Community Conference, which are initiatives designed to improve mathematics, engineering and science learning opportunities for middle and high school students and have served over 1,500 high school students and their families throughout the San Diego region. Most recently, Spencer was chair of the editorial board for her field’s premiere academic journal, Journal for Research in Mathematics Education.

Ladany, who had been SOLES dean since 2015, leaves behind a solid record of achievement.

“During his tenure, he demonstrated an ambitious vision for SOLES that has driven the school forward during a time of great change,” Baker said.

The dean search for both schools is underway. 

Virtual USD Conversation Event July 8

The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) is conducting important discussions for students, faculty, alumni and friends this month. CAS will host another virtual USD Conversations event on July 8 with USD faculty members leading the discussion.

The July 8 event, from 12 to 1 p.m., is a discussion around Black Lives Matter with Cory Gooding, PhD, assistant professor of political science and international relations, and Channon Miller, PhD, assistant professor of history. Their talk will delve into the history of The Black Freedom Struggle and discuss the aims and goals of the Movement for Black Lives. Topics will also include systemic racism, reimaging historical symbols and statues, the differences between revolution and reform, and implications for the November election.

To register for this free event — and to receive the Zoom link to the talk — visit this page. 

Office of Undergraduate Research Summer Colloquium — Save the Date

The Office of Undergraduate Research will host its annual summer research colloquium, a showcase for students to present their work, on August 6 beginning at noon. The event will take place virtually on Zoom.

There are USD Summer Scholars — both current and incoming fall semester students conducting their research in-person this summer in the Shiley Center for Science and Technology building and many more who are working remotely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The colloquium event is free to view, but you must register to access the Zoom link. For more information about the Summer Research Colloquium, please email or OUR Director Elisa Maldonado Greene at

— Compiled by Ryan T. Blystone


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