James Denniston, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Appalachian State University, has been named the founding dean of the College of Health, Education and Human Services at Wright State University. Denniston will join Wright State on June 1.
Wright State reorganized its health-related and education programs into the College of Health, Education and Human Services with a goal of offering students more educational paths to in-demand careers and providing increased interprofessional experiential learning and research opportunities.
The college, which opened at the start of the Fall 2021 Semester, includes undergraduate and graduate programs in nursing, kinesiology and health, professional psychology, social work, human services, teacher education and leadership studies in education and organizations.
“The reorganization of the college brings together outstanding schools and programs that are poised for growth and potential expansion to better meet the needs of students and employers in the region,” Denniston said. “The opportunity to work with the faculty in the college to enhance existing programs and to develop new academic programs is what drew me to Wright State.”
Denniston said he was impressed with the college’s faculty during his visit to Wright State during the search process.
“The dedication of the faculty and their excitement about the future of the college was highly salient during my campus visit, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with them in developing a vision for the new College of Health, Education and Human Services,” he said.
Denniston said he is deeply committed to promoting the success of students, faculty and staff while supporting the needs of the Miami Valley.
“My interest in serving as the founding dean of the College of Health, Education, and Human Services stems from a set of shared value based on people, learning, partnerships, relationships, sustainability, and stewardship,” Denniston said.
His experience in developing transformational educational experiences and forging community partnerships will help Wright State and the college to develop and enhance innovative academic programs, he said
“These programs would provide students with educational and career opportunities that allow them to lead purposeful lives while simultaneously meeting the needs of the region,” he said.
During his 23-year career at Appalachian State University, Denniston has served in a variety of administrative and service roles that have well-prepared him for the dean position at Wright State.
He joined Appalachian State’s Department of Psychology in 1999 and was promoted to professor of psychology in 2012. He served as chair of the Department of Psychology from 2008 to 2017 and assistant chair of the department from 2006 to 2007.
From 2019 to 2021, Denniston served as Appalachian State’s coordinator of faculty diversity recruitment and inclusion initiatives, collaborating with personnel from the Office of Human Resources and the chief diversity officer to implement faculty recruitment initiatives as part of a comprehensive faculty recruitment plan.
His other leadership positions at Appalachian State have included chair of the Council of Chairs, coordinator for faculty reporting in the Office of Academic Affairs, and director of the General-Experimental Master of Arts Program.
From 2018 to 2019, he was an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow at Wake Forest University, where he collaborated with the president, provost, vice president for campus life, and vice president for diversity and inclusion.
Denniston has also held several national committee appointments, including serving as a program review consultant and member of the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association.
His research specializes in information processing in animals, including learning, memory, timing, and decision making.
Denniston received his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the State University of New York at Binghamton, his master’s degree in experimental psychology from Bucknell University, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from New York University.