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Department of Educational Leadership

The Educational Leadership Department is the largest graduate department at Texas A&M University-Commerce.  The department houses two doctoral programs, six masters programs, one undergraduate program, nine certification programs, and two graduate certificate programs.

The department is dedicated to addressing the needs of its diverse student population through the offering of courses in modes that are mindful of time, geographic, and economic constraints placed on these students.  In response to this obligation, a number of courses throughout the department have been modified to online or web-enhanced formats.  Additional courses are adapted for online delivery where appropriate to maximize accessibility for students and to alleviate barriers restricting enrollment in traditional courses.

The Department of Educational Leadership graduates more than 400 students each year and produces more than 15,000 semester credit hours (SCH). Faculty utilize a variety of innovative teaching processes to reach a diversified student population across the state.

Texas A&M University-Commerce has the highest graduation rate among Texas public institutions for doctoral programs. The Department of Educational Leadership ranks at the top in Texas in the preparation of K-12 Principals and second in the state in the preparation of K-12 Superintendents (Black Issues News Alert for 8/02/05). The department also ranks second in the state in the preparation of College Presidents (Lumsden & Lothringer, 2001).

Meet Our Faculty                                                 

  • James Vornberg

    James Vornberg, PhD

    Professor Emeritus and Department Head

    Jim Vornberg has been a faculty member at A&M commerce for the past 40 years, serving as professor, department head, and interim dean. He is editor of the Texas Public School Organization and Administration text now in its 14th edition.

    Areas of Research:

    Principalship and school facilities

  • Melissa Arrambide

    Melissa Arrambide, EdD

    Assistant Professor

    Melissa Arrambide has over 18 years experience in public education. Experiences include teacher, assistant principal, principal, Director of Special Services, as well as Independent Consultant for districts throughout the metroplex.

    Areas of Research:

    Second language acquisition and leadership.

  • Julia Ballenger

    Julia Ballenger, PhD

    Associate Professor

    Dr. Julia Ballenger is a Coordinator of the Masters in Educational Administration and Principal Certification Program. She has served in administrative and teaching roles in public schools, at the state level, and in education for the past 40 years.

    Areas of Research:

    STEM, mentoring, principal program evaluation, social justice leadership, and cultural and global competency.

  • Arthur J Borgemenke

    Arthur J Borgemenke

    Assistant Professor

    Arthur Borgemenke is an Assistant Professor of EdD. In addition to his Higher Education service at three universities, he has many years of public education classroom teaching, campus and central office administrative experience.

    Areas of Research:

    Developing efficacious methods of delivering terminal degrees to under-served populations.

  • Mary Jo Dondlinger

    Mary Jo Dondlinger, PhD

    Assistant Professor

    She teaches in and coordinates the Educational Technology masters programs. Her prior experiences include teaching college writing, designing career and technical degree programs, and directing college-wide institutional effectiveness efforts.

    Areas of Research:

    Teaching methodologies and technologies for complex problem-solving, critical and creative thinking, and dispositions for lifelong learning.

  • Shari Farris

    Shari Farris, EdD

    Assistant Professor

    Dr. Farris has served in teaching and leadership roles at the university level for the past 6 years. She has over 15 years of experience in school administration and teaching.

    Areas of Research:

    Educational policy, assessment, and teacher leadership

  • Alan Francis

    Alan Francis, EdD


    Alan Francis was an instructional designer from 2006-2009. He gained six years of extensive online teaching experience in the College of Business before his move to Educational Leadership in 2014.

    Areas of Research:

    Online course design and testing

  • Deborah  Goodwin

    Deborah Goodwin, EdD

    Assistant Professor

    Dr. Goodwin has served as a secondary teacher, an elementary principal, an assistant superintendent, a consultant to school districts in academic distress, and an assistant professor of educational leadership.

    Areas of Research:

    Effective Organizational Operations and Differentiated Instruction.

  • Kriss Kemp Graham

    Kriss Kemp Graham, PhD

    Assistant Professor

  • Chuck Holt

    Chuck Holt, EdD

    Assistant Professor

    Dr. Holt serves as the coordinator for the EDAD Doctoral Program and Executive Director of the School Leadership Alliance. He served as a public school Principal and Superintendent for 25 years.

    Areas of Research:

    School Finance, Teacher Efficacy and Leadership.

  • Jackie Jones

    Jackie Jones

    Ad Interim Assistant Professor

    Jackie Jones has served in administrative and teaching roles in Texas at the pre-kindergarten through university graduate level. She serves as a Lead Evaluator volunteer for SACS/AdvancED.

    Areas of Research:

    School accreditation and improvement

  • Madeline Justice

    Madeline Justice, EdD

    Professor and Interim Assistant Provost of Special Projects -Academic Affairs

    She teaches online doctoral courses in the Higher Education program. She has served in in teaching and administrative roles in the university, community college and public school.

    Areas of Research:

    curriculum development, diversity, reading, emotional intelligence and educational research.

  • JoHyun  Kim

    JoHyun Kim, PhD

    Assistant Professor

    JoHyun Kim has her specialization in higher education and community college leadership.

    Areas of Research:

    Students' access to and success in higher education focusing on high school-to-college transition, dual credit, college readiness, and students' retention and graduation.

  • Charlotte Larkin

    Charlotte Larkin, EdD

    Assistant Professor

    Charlotte Larkin has served in administrative and teaching roles at the university level for the past 18 years. She previously worked in the computer industry in the private sector.

    Areas of Research:

    Online instructional design, teaching, and learning.

  • Derek Lester

    Derek Lester, PhD

    Assistant Professor

    Derek Lester is an assistant professor in the Higher Education program.

    Areas of Research:

    Students' motivation to attend college students' perceptions of academic environments, engagement, and persistence, and guided by theories of evolutionary psychology and person/environment fit.

  • Richard Lumadue

    Richard Lumadue, PhD

    Assistant Professor

  • Ava Munoz

    Ava Munoz, EdD

    Assistant Professor

    She has taught Educational Leadership, at the university level, for the past 7 years. She previously worked in Texas P-12 schools, as a teacher and school administrator.

    Areas of Research:

    Superintendency, gender equity, social justice and mentoring.

  • William R Ogden

    William R Ogden, PhD

    Professor Emeritus

    William R. ''Bill'' Ogden has got thirty-six years of teaching and administrative service experience. He teaches an online section of HIED 627, History of Higher Education in the United States

    Areas of Research:

    Science Education

  • Warren Ortloff

    Warren Ortloff, EdD

    Assistant Professor

    Ortloff has served as school administrator and teacher elementary through high school. School administrative experience includes international assignments in Colombia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait.

    Areas of Research:

    Comparative education, program development, educator value systems and motivation.

  • Denise Pheils

    Denise Pheils, PhD

    Assistant Professor

    She has taught online at the associate through doctoral levels for the past 15 years. She previously worked in information technology and security

    Areas of Research:

    Cybersecurity and promoting best practices in andragogy

  • Delores Rice

    Delores Rice, PhD

    Assistant Professor

    Delores Rice conducts research in STEM, with a passion for engineering education and social justice. Having earned a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering,.

    Areas of Research:

    African American female engineers and other underrepresented groups in the STEM disciplines..

  • Joyce Scott

    Joyce Scott, PhD


    Professor Joyce A. Scott served 31 years in public universities, a national association, and a state university system. She teaches philosophy and higher education issues, reform, and policy. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi.

    Areas of Research:

    Faculty compensation and leadership preparation.

  • Paul M Sullivan

    Paul M Sullivan, PhD

    Ad Interim Assistant Professor

    Paul M. Sullivan is an interim professor in the Educational Leadership Department. He received his EdD from the University of Georgia and has recently served on two NEASC accreditation teams (Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi)

    Areas of Research:

    Program improvement and global educational awareness, especially as it relates to refugee education.

  • Nathan R Templeton

    Nathan R Templeton, EdD

    Assistant Professor

    Nathan R. Templeton is Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership. Dr. Templeton has served Texas P-12 schools in various administrative roles, including fine arts coordinator and campus principal.

    Areas of Research:

    Academic achievement and the achievement gaps, mentoring of educators, and improving the professional practice of principals.

  • Ray Thompson

    Ray Thompson, EdD

    Assistant Professor

    Ray Thompson has served in administrative/teaching roles at the university level for the past seven years. Previously, he worked in Texas P-12 schools as teacher and superintendent and for TEA.

    Areas of Research:

    Educational leadership, instruction, and online education.

  • Jon Travis

    Jon Travis, EdD

    Regent Professor

    Jon Travis has served as a professor and administrator in higher education for 26 years.

    Areas of Research:

    Threats to Public Education, Qualitative Research, Law, College Teaching, and Higher Education.

  • Mary Webb

    Mary Webb, EdD

    Assistant Professor

    Mary Webb is an Assistant Professor and a Superintendent in Arkansas. She has served in public schools as a teacher and an administrator for 38 years.

    Areas of Research:

    Gender studies, TESS and safety in public schools

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