LEADERSHIP STUDIES FACULTY
Dr. Ceola Ross Baber is a full professor in the Department of Leadership Studies (LEST). She earned an M.A. degree in secondary education at Stanford University. She taught at the middle school and community college levels in California and Alabama before pursuing her Ph.D. at Purdue University. Her primary LEST teaching responsibilities are research methodology courses and women and leadership. Her current research/scholarship agenda includes: (a) social justice leadership, (b) equity education in K-20 institutions, (b) home-school-community-university collaboration. She chaired 16 doctoral committees at UNC-G; she currently serves as chair or co-chair for 17 LEST dissertation committees. Her appointments in higher education include Director of the African American Studies & Research Center at Purdue University (1984-1989); faculty member in the UNC-Greensboro Department of Curriculum and Instruction (1989-2008); Associate Dean for Teacher Education & School Relationships in the UNCG School of Education (1999-2004); UNCG Interim Associate Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Education (2007-2008). She served as Dean of the NCA&T School of Education from 2008-2010. Dr. Ross Baber has made numerous presentations at the state, regional and national levels and is the author of many scholarly publications related to urban and equity education. She currently serves as (a) manuscript reviewer for American Educational Research Journal, Journal of School Leadership, The New Educator; and (b) conference proposal reviewer for the American Educational Research Association, National Council for the Social Studies, and North Carolina Association of Research in Education.
Chancellor Emeritus of North Carolina A&T State University, Dr. Edward B. Fort currently serves as the Edward Fort Professor of Education (endowed chair) at the university (1999–present). He earned his doctorate in educational administration/ leadership at the University of California, Berkeley. He served with distinction as chancellor of N.C. A&T for 18 years (1981–1999). During that time he gained unconditional reaffirmation of accreditation for the School of Nursing by the National League of Nursing, insured the fiscal integrity of the university by securing clean state-verified audits in less than three years and launched the university’s first doctoral programs in 1994.
Dr. Comfort Okpala is the chair and a professor in Leadership Studies, School of Education at North Carolina A & T State University. Her teaching interests include Qualitative Research, Quantitative Research, Higher Education Finance, and Leadership. Her research agenda is grounded in leadership studies, policy, finance, social justice, and resource equity. Dr. Okpala has a variety of educational publications in refereed journals like the Journal of Early Childhood Education, Journal of Education Finance, Journal of Educational Researcher, Urban Education, Journal of Applied Business, Journal of Negro Education, Journal of College Teaching and Learning, Contemporary Issues in Education Research, Education, and Instructional Psychology. Dr. Okpala’s published articles have received over two-hundred and forty (240) citations according to Google Scholar. She reviews manuscripts for many refereed journals like Journal of Negro Education, Urban Education, Journal of Early Childhood Education, and Journal of Education. Dr. Okpala has presented her research at local, state, national and international conferences like American Education Research Association (AERA), American Education Finance Association (AEFA), American Evaluation Association (AEA), Eastern Educational Research Association (EERA), North Carolina Association for Research in Education (NCARE), and others. Dr. Comfort Okpala has been a member of AERA since 1998 and has served as a reviewer of conference articles for many years and a Treasurer for Fiscal Policy SIG. She served as a Board member for four (4) consecutive years on the North Carolina Association for Research in Education which is a local affiliation of AERA. She has been awarded numerous grants that include NSF grants and Twenty-First Century grant as well as other travel grants.
Dr. Forrest D. Toms Sr. is as an associate professor in the Department of Leadership Studies at North Carolina A&T State University. His current research is in the areas of leadership development with faith-based/community leaders around spiritual capital and civic engagement. Toms is recognized nationally for his systems approach and processes related to diversity and cultural competency in the education, health and mental health fields. He has successfully designed and implemented effective organizational change models for the N.C. Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities, N.C. Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services, and many school systems statewide and nationally. He has published articles, produced books and multimedia training products in the areas of diversity, cultural competency and community engagement. He has served as a member of the NC Social Service Commission and the N C Justice Center Board of Directors. He is a member of the NC Division MHDDSAS’ Practice Improvement Collaborative (NC PIC) and N C Raising Achievement and Closing the Gap Commission. Dr. Toms received his BS and MA degrees in Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and a PhD in Developmental Psychology from Howard University, Washington, DC. He resides in Hickory, NC with his wife Phyllis, son, Forrest II and daughter, Zakiya.