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Washington State University
Washington State University Office of the Provost

Meet the Team

Dr. Laura Griner Hill

Chair of Human Development and Professor, College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences

Laura Hill is a professor and chair in the Department of Human Development, and a founding faculty member of the Prevention Science PhD program at Washington State University. Hill trained as a clinical psychologist, but along the way became more interested in preventing social and emotional problems rather than treating them.

For years she has conducted research on how parents can strengthen family bonds to promote healthy development of their children and adolescents. Recently, Hill served as associate director for health promotion, research, and evaluation in the university’s Health and Wellness Services. In that role she studied risk and protective factors, including relationships with parents and instructors, that affect college students’ health, well-being, academic performance, and persistence. Hill is particularly interested in how parents and universities can apply science-based tools to help students feel connected, commit to valued actions, stay focused, and flourish in an academic setting.


Dr. Samantha Swindell

Associate Dean of Assessment and Curriculum and Clinical Professor, College of Arts and Sciences

Samantha Swindell is a clinical professor in the Department of Psychology and assistant dean for Assessment and Curriculum for the College of Arts and Sciences. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in psychology at the University of Puget Sound in 1993 before coming to Washington State University to pursue a master’s and doctoral degree in experimental psychology.

Swindell completed a postdoctoral research appointment at WSU in 1999 and served as the Director of the Undergraduate Program in Psychology prior to her appointment as an assistant dean in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2015. Swindell’s expertise is on behavioral principles of learning with particular interest in the role these principles play in evidence-based practices in teaching and training.

Dr. William Davis

Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education of the College of Veterinary Medicine

William (Bill) Davis is the associate dean for Undergraduate Education in the College of Veterinary Medicine. He received his BA from Drury University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Northwestern University in 1999. After two years as an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at the Technical University of Munich, Davis joined the faculty of the School of Molecular Biosciences in 2001. As the associate director for Undergraduate Studies in SMB, he helped lead transformation of its curriculum through the implementation of ongoing programmatic assessment and a focus on undergraduate research. Bill is a faculty mentor in the WSU Team Mentoring Program, a peer and faculty mentoring program for underrepresented students in STEM.

Davis’ current research interests focus on the impacts of classroom and laboratory pedagogy on student learning outcomes in large enrollment freshman classes. He also is active in innovative programs that lead to the transformation of both individual faculty and departments/institutions, such as serving as a PULSE Vision & Change Leadership Fellow, a facilitator for the NAS Scientific Teaching Institutes, and a Co-leader of the AAC&U/Project Kaleidoscope STEM Leadership Institute.

Katie Forsythe

Director of the Transformational Change Initiative

Katie Forsythe is dedicated to improving the undergraduate experience through developing innovative learning opportunities and meaningful connections among individuals and groups. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a minor in gender, women, and sexuality studies from the University of Washington and a masters degree in higher education from the University of Michigan. Forsythe joined the WSU community in May 2017 and is looking forward to supporting students, parents, faculty, and campus partners as a member of the TCI team.

Parent Interventions Team

Dr. Matthew Bumpus

Associate Professor of Human Development

Matthew Bumpus is associate professor and associate chair of the Department of Human Development at Washington State University, and is also a faculty member of the Prevention Science Graduate Program. He received a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from Pennsylvania State University.

Bumpus’ research interests revolve around the ways in which universities and parents can best support college student social, academic, and behavioral well-being. Specifically, he studies how families navigate the transition to college, and the ways in which universities can promote student success across the transition. He is also interested in how programs that promote student well-being can be adapted to best support families and students from diverse backgrounds.

Dr. Brittany Cooper

Assistant Professor of Human Development

Brittany Cooper is an assistant professor of Human Development and the director of the Prevention Science PhD program at Washington State University. Her research focuses on identifying factors necessary for the successful dissemination, implementation, sustainability and public health impact of preventive interventions.

Through her Extension appointment, she also works with federal, state, and local stakeholders regarding how to best support the high quality implementation and sustainability of evidence-based prevention programs in real-world settings. Especially relevant for the TCI project, Cooper has experience in effectively balancing the rigor of quality program evaluation with the realities of large-scale implementation and scale-up. She will apply this experience by contributing to the development of a strong and effective coaching, training, and support system for the TCI’s coordinated, university-wide approach to improving student outcomes.

Curriculum Development Team

Dr. Rebecca Van de Vord

Assistant Vice President of AOI, Liaison to the Provost’s Office, and Director of Learning Innovations

Rebecca Van de Vord is assistant vice president and director of learning innovations for Washington State University’s Academic Outreach and Innovation. In addition she serves as Liaison to the Provost’s Office for Teaching Innovation. Van de Vord completed her MA and Ph.D. in WSU’s Murrow College of Communication as well as a graduate certificate in instructional design also from WSU.

Van de Vord worked several years as an instructional designer for online classes and one year as special assistant to the provost for student success. She is committed to fostering instructional methods that enhance student access, success and retention.

Faculty Development Team

Mary Kay Patton

Clinical Assistant Professor, CTLL

Mary Kay Patton, J. D., is dedicated to the project of nurturing the human spirit as an essential dimension of leading a rich, full, meaningful life. In so doing, she supports individuals and teams in taking value-based committed action from a place of presence and mindfulness. Patton is a gifted facilitator, writer, educator and advocate. Over the past 15 years, she practiced both civil and criminal law in both public service and private practice.

Fueled by her experience in conflict resolution, social justice and mediation, Patton now focuses her professional efforts on personal and organizational transformation. An Idaho native, Mary Kay has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Washington and a J.D. from the University of Idaho.

Research and Assessment Team

Dr. Elizabeth Soliday

Associate Professor of Human Development

Elizabeth Soliday is an associate professor in Human Development at WSU Vancouver. She earned her PhD in psychology (clinical) at the University of Kansas. Her research focuses on how childbearing-aged individuals think about, experience, and can be best informed on safe birth and sustainable care models. With an emphasis on giving voice to individual concerns that can be critical to care reform, she employs diverse research methodologies including qualitative and phenomenological approaches.

With a combined research and teaching mission of helping university students chart their own life courses, Soliday is also committed to providing undergraduates empowering, beneficial learning experiences. Towards that aim, she and CTLL colleagues were recently awarded a WSU Seed Grant to extend a retention-enhancing course to Tri-Cities and Vancouver, and she is leading a qualitative assessment of faculty development on the WSU SSI grant.

Dr. Brian French

Professor and Director of the Learning and Performance Research Center

Brian French is a professor in Educational Psychology, director of the Learning and Performance Research Center in the College of Education, and a graduate faculty member in Prevention Science at Washington State University. French was trained as a psychometrician, earning graduate degrees from Purdue University. His research focuses on applied and methodological issues in educational and psychological measurement.

French is specifically interested in the accuracy of assessment scores used for decisions about individual. This focus has allowed him to work with scholars from around the globe. Specific to the TCI project, French is interested in examining the accuracy of student and university level measures used to assess student success, and applying advanced measurement and statistical models to assist with the documenting the success of the project.

Dr. Jon Walter

Institutional Researcher

Jon Walter is a data scientist in the Office of Institutional Research. His primary role is to conduct research and analyze institutional data in support of student success initiatives at Washington State University. Walter’s current focus is on developing and deploying predictive models to improve retention, completion, and graduation rates.

Walter has professional experience in academic advising, academic advisor training, academic success coaching and curriculum development, career advising, academic probation, academic recovery interventions, orientation programs, and student success technologies. He holds a masters and doctoral degree in education from Washington State University.

Dr. Michael Cleveland

Associate Professor of Human Development

Michael Cleveland is an associate professor in the Department of Human Development. He received his Ph.D. in HDFS from Iowa State University where he also received a Master’s degree in sociology. Cleveland’s research examines how social contextual factors influence health behaviors, with emphasis on etiology and prevention of alcohol and other substance use. His current work focuses on expanding prevention programs to prevent substance misuse among vulnerable populations, including minority youth and those who do not attend four-year universities.

Cleveland is particularly interested in how parent-based interventions can be adapted to better serve the needs of youth during the high-risk transition out of high school. Cleveland also has a long-standing interest to integrate prevention science with cutting-edge statistical methodology to develop more effective and developmentally appropriate preventive interventions.

Collaboration Team Members

The Transformational Change Initiative at Washington State University incorporates many key collaborators in its success. For more information on updates within the TCI, visit our Campus News page.

Dr. Avi Kaplan

Avi Kaplan, an associate professor of educational psychology from Temple University, spent two days with faculty and graduate students in the fall semester on the Pullman campus. Kaplan is an expert in student motivation, self-regulation, learning environments, and self and identity development.

Kaplan provided scoring training for a new assessment involving written response to item prompts that assess a student’s motivation and development related to college success. We are implementing this measure with the TCI project this year. In addition to training, Kaplan gave a graduate seminar talk to faculty and students from educational psychology and prevention science.

Contact us

Washington State University

Johnson Tower 501
PO Box 4852
Pullman, WA 99164

General TCI inquiries