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Dr. Barry Vann Program Director of PhD in Leadership/Chair of the Institute/Department of Leadership Studies; Professor of Higher Education and Geography
Office:Cordell Building 6429 College Station Drive
Phone:(606) 539-4403 or 1-800-343-1609 ext 4403

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Although he has international experience as an author, professor, speaker, and administrator, Dr. Barry A. Vann is a native of southern Appalachia. Dr. Vann came to University of the Cumberlands in 2008 as the founding Director of the Doctor of Education Program and is now the Chair of the Department of Leadership Studies.

Vann holds two doctorates: a Doctor of Education degree in Adult Education from the University of Arkansas, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree dually awarded by the Departments of Church History and Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. In addition, he holds a Master of Science degree in Geosciences from Western Kentucky University and a BS in Social Sciences from Tennessee Technological University.

Vann has served for more than two decades as a lecturer, professor, and academic administrator in a variety of places: Delta State University in Mississippi, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in the Sooner State, University of Dundee in Scotland, and SBS Swiss Business School in Zurich, Switzerland. Before coming to the University of the Cumberlands as the founding director of the doctoral program and professor of higher education and geography, he served as the founding director of Lincoln Memorial University’s Appalachian Development Studies and geography programs.

As an author, Vann has published nearly two dozen articles and seven books. His writings have appeared or have been discussed in such publications as Annals of the Association of American Geographers;; Journal of American History; Journal of East Tennessee History; Journal of Southern Religion; Journal of Transatlantic Studies; Nomocracy in Politics; Human Resource Development Quarterly;Journal of Historical Sociology; Geography of Religions and Belief Systems; SBS Journal of Applied Business; Ulster Heritage Magazine; and the American Library Association’s Choice Magazine.

Among his seven books is Puritan Islam: The Geoexpansion of the Muslim World, which was named a top 25 academic book for 2012 by Choice Magazine; Choice is a publication for research libraries within the American Library Association. The Forces of Nature: Our Quest to Conquer the Planet (2012), Vann’s latest book, was endorsed by The World Future Society and National Science Teachers Association.

Vann has appeared on a number of television and radio programs, including Fox News Channel’s “Spirited Debate” with Lauren Green and Professor Michio Kaku’s “Science Fantastic.” He has also been a guest on BBC Scotland, a national radio talk show on a range of political and social topics; Stephen and Susan Tchudi’s Ecotopia, an environmentally themed talk show presented on California radio station KZFR 90.1 FM. In 2015, Vann was a guest on a PBS television show entitled Tennessee Life. More recently, Vann served as a consultant and on-camera guest for a BBC documentary hosted by Neil Oliver, a renowned British anthropologist. Students say Dr. Vann has a sense of humor that is a blend of Robin Williams and Chevy Chase, without the vulgarities. While teaching, he often does voice impersonations that range from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, and John F. Kennedy to a number of lesser known personalities representing a number or regional and national accents.

Primary Course Responsibilities:

GEOG 131 Human Geography

GEOG 231 Environmental Geography

LEAR 734 Inferential Statistics in Decision-making

LEAR 736 Dissertation Seminar

LEAR 839 Advanced Research Methods

LEAR 930, 931, 932-935 Dissertation

LEAS 730 Politics of Decision-making

LEAS 835 The Change Process


Dr. Jennifer Simpson Assistant Program Director and Associate Professor of Higher Education
Office:Cordell Building 6429 College Station Drive

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Jennifer Simpson, a native of southern Appalachia, completed her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology with minors in religion and social work from Cumberland College. She completed graduate studies earning a Master of Arts degree in Special Education and a Rank I Certificate in Education from Union College. Additionally, she participated in the two-year Adolescent Literacy Coaching Project at Eastern Kentucky University, and presented research on peer-administered reading programs for students with disabilities. She completed her Doctor of Education degree in 2012 from University of the Cumberlands. Her dissertation, “The Effect of Superintendent Tenure on District Achievement in Rural Eastern Kentucky,” examined the relationship between leadership in a school district and student performance.

Dr. Simpson has been a “Reading First” state trainer, and presented at state education conferences including the Kentucky Association of School Councils and the Kentucky Council for Teachers of English and Language Arts. She has participated in the Kentucky Leadership Network for Language Arts endeavor to incorporate literacy in all content areas since the inception of Senate Bill 1. She has also been a contributor to the Kentucky Department of Education’s monthly Literacy Link publication, and the Minnesota English Journal Online.

Dr. Simpson has also presented and published nationally and internationally. She presented research with UC colleagues at the National Rural Education Association Conference and the Mid-South Educational Research Conference. Her research has also been published by the American Association of School Administrators’ Journal of Scholarship and Practice at Seton Hall. Additionally, with Drs. Barry Vann and Aaron N. Coleman she coauthored an article for the Swiss Business School’s Journal of Applied Business Research.

Before coming to the University of the Cumberlands, Dr. Simpson spent over a decade teaching special education at the middle and high school levels in McCreary County, Kentucky. She also served as the Literacy Coach for McCreary Central High School, working with students, parents, and staff to further expand literacy in Appalachia. She volunteers in her local school district and serves as a member of a local school council. Her research interests include: literacy research; leadership studies; higher education topics; adult learning strategies; and effective online teaching. Her first book, coauthored with her husband, will be available in December 2017.

Dr. Nathan Coleman Associate Professor of Higher Education and History
Office:Cordell Building 6429 College Station Drive

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Dr. Nathan Coleman hails from Inez, KY. In 2001, he graduated with a B.S. in history from Cumberland College. During his tenure at Cumberland Nathan was President of the Student Government Association from 1999-2001, the first student in Cumberlands’ history to serve four straight semesters as President. He continued his studies at the University of Louisville where he obtained his M.A. degree in history in 2003. While at both the Cumberlands and Louisville, he was active in Phi Alpha Theta, the national honor society in history, serving as president of both school’s chapters. He obtained his Ph.D. in early American history from the University of Kentucky in 2008. His area of expertise is on early American political and constitutional thought. From 2008 to 2013 he was the Assistant Professor of History at Kentucky Christian University, where he taught a wide spectrum of American history courses. He is currently an Associate Professor of Education and History at the University of the Cumberlands.

Dr. Coleman has published articles and numerous book reviews in leading journals in history and has presented papers at a number of conferences and symposiums, as well being the invited guest speaker at several speaking forums. His work has been cited by numerous scholars of the Early Republic including Pulitzer Prize winning historians. He is currently completing a manuscript on the American Revolution and the idea of a constitutional settlement. Nathan’s publications include:

“'A Second Bonaparte?' A Reexamination of Alexander Hamilton During the Franco-American Crisis, 1796–1801,” JER, 28 (2008):183-214.

“Debating the Nature of State Sovereignty: Nationalists, State Sovereigntists, and the Treaty of Paris (1783), Journal of the Historical Society 12 (Fall 2012):309-340.

“President James Madison’s Domestic Policies, 1809-1817: Jeffersonian Factionalism and the Beginnings of American Nationalism” in Stuart Leibiger, ed. A Companion to James Madison and James Monroe (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012): 192-207.

Dr. Coleman brings a historical perspective to the study of leadership. In addition to directing research projects, Nathan will provide instruction on the history and philosophy of great leaders.

David Hollingsworth, Ph.D Associate Professor of Education and History
Office:Cordell Building 6429 College Station Drive
Phone:706-726-3987 or 1-800-343-1609 ext. 4031

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David Hollingsworth grew up in Hephzibah, Georgia. He earned his BA in history at Augusta College, his MA in Church History at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and his Ph.D in US history at the University of Kentucky. His primary research interests are southern history and early American history specializing in evangelicals and the American Revolution. Currently, he is completing a manuscript on the role of evangelicals in the coming and prosecution of the American Revolution in Georgia and South Carolina. Dr. Hollingsworth’s teaching career includes twelve years of teaching social studies and several years of coaching baseball in various public schools in the state of Georgia. Before joining the faculty at the University of the Cumberlands, he taught Georgia History and US history survey courses for four years at Georgia Regents University. His primary teaching responsibilities at UC include Historical Development of Leadership and the dissertation seminars.

Dr. Emily Coleman Associate Professor of Higher Education

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Dr. Emily Coleman, from New Castle, Kentucky, is a Student Success Coordinator and adjunct professor of higher education at UC. In 2001, she graduated with a B.S. in Education from Cumberland College. During her time at Cumberland, she served as a Resident Assistant, Residence Hall Director, and Student Orientation Leader. She continued her studies at the University of Louisville where she obtained a M.Ed. with an emphasis in College Student Personnel. While at Louisville she worked in Alumni and Parent Programs and interned with Judicial Affairs. She completed a Post Master’s Certificate in Enrollment Management, and a PhD in Higher Education Administration and Leadership from Capella University. Her dissertation “Money Matters: A study on the relationship between financial aid programs and policies on student persistence in higher education” examined the implications of financial aid on private college persistence rates. Furthermore, Dr. Coleman has been credentialed as a Distance Career Counselor by Ready Minds and as an Enrollment Management Specialist by Noel Levitz. She teaches courses in the student services track.

Before coming to Cumberland as the Student Success Coordinator and adjunct professor, Dr. Coleman served twelve years as a higher education and enrollment management administrator. She has been active in the profession and has led over 20 professional presentations, served on accreditation review teams, maintained a long standing active role in professional organizations, and was recently named as a Salzburg Fellow.

Dr. Gary Goff Professor of Higher Education

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Dr. Goff is currently a Professor of Education for the University of the Cumberlands teaching on-line doctorial level courses for the Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership Degree Program. He has been an assistant professor at Missouri State University and taught undergraduate level physical education and military science courses. He has taught undergraduate level business classes for University of Maryland, Roane State Community College, and Tennessee Tech University. He has taught doctoral level courses for the University of the Cumberlands as an adjunct faculty member. He has also held the following higher education administration positions: Vice President for Administration/Chief Financial Officer for Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida and was responsible for managing a $160 million dollar annual budget and operations to support the academic enterprise. He also was the Dean of Business and Technologies at Hillsborough Community College that provided an academic curriculum in support of workforce and academic transfer requirements.

As President Emeritus of Roane State Community College, Dr. Goff was responsibility for nine campuses in East Tennessee with over 12,000 credit students and over 11,500 non-credit students attending classes annually, provided leadership for over 800 employees, and managed a $61 million dollar annual budget during his 7 years as President. During his tenure, Roane State Community College was ranked #27 of America’s Best Community Colleges by and was the top ranked community college in Tennessee. Roane State was also ranked #6 nationally for producing Technician or Technology Degrees by Community College Week, ranked #3 statewide for producing Registered Nurses needed in Tennessee by both public and private institutions, ranked #1 for Tennessee’s public colleges/universities for performance funding, and ranked #2 in job placement for Tennessee’s public colleges/universities. Roane State’s junior year transfer Grade Point Average was 3.17 vice a national community college average of 2.88. Roane state’s first time pass rate on State and National licensure exams was 98%. Ranked #2 in graduation rate for Tennessee’s community colleges. Roane State exceeded State and National Benchmarks on the Community College Survey of Student Engagement. Roane State is one of America’s Top G.I. Friendly Colleges. Dr. Goff raised over $12.6 million in only seven years as the chief fund raiser for the College. He supervised the building of 2 campuses with private donations. During his presidency, Roane State was awarded 41 grants totaling over $26.4 million. As President of Roane State Community College, Dr. Goff was selected by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslim to join his cabinet as the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development. Do to his love of Roane State; he respectfully declined the Governor’s invitation to serve in his cabinet.

In his first career, Dr. Goff served on military active duty for 30 years as an Army Ranger. During his military career, he was the Dean of the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, where he directed an intensive professional educational program for over 1000 military professionals annually to meet higher educational and professional development needs for our nation’s security.


Ed.D, Higher Education Leadership, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL

MBA, Management, Missouri State University, Springfield, MO

BS, Political Science/History, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN

Dr. Aaron Anderson Associate Professor of Education

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Dr. Aaron Anderson is a native of Whitley County, Kentucky. He completed his Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts degree, and Rank I Certificate in education at Cumberland College. In addition, he completed endorsements for Instructional Supervisor, Principal, and Superintendent, at Eastern Kentucky University. Dr. Anderson has 19 years of public school and higher education teaching and administrative experiences; he has served as a high school teacher, middle school principal, adjunct undergraduate and graduate professor. He currently works as the Assistant Superintendent of the McCreary County School District, in Southeastern Kentucky. He completed his Doctor of Education degree in 2011 at the University of the Cumberlands. His dissertation, “High School Course Taking Patterns and Achievements in Mathematics,” examined the relationship between the math course taking patterns of high school students and their performance on the Kentucky state assessment. His teaching and research interests center around leadership, grant writing, and program evaluation. A number of students who completed Dr. Anderson’s grant writing class turned their course proposals into funded projects. Students have a high regard for Dr. Anderson and often remark that he is a caring, fair and challenging professor who knows “his stuff.” Since 2010, Dr. Anderson’s students have written more than $1 million dollars in grants as a result of projects they wrote for his grant writing class.

Dr. Deann Stivers Allen Associate Professor of Higher Education

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Dr. Deann Stivers Allen received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee. In addition to her work here at UC, Dr. Allen is an Instructional Supervisor with the Clay County Board of Education and serves as the District Assessment Coordinator, District Health Coordinator and works with College and Career Readiness. She is the President of the Kentucky Association of Assessment Coordinators, a graduate of Leadership Kentucky Class of 2013. Dr. Allen is married, has two adult daughters and is a member of the Greenbrier Presbyterian Church.

Dr. John Mark Toby Professor of Higher Education and Religion

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Dr. John Mark Toby has served as the Director of Missions for the Warren Association of Baptists since January 2013. He was a Pastor for twenty-seven years and currently serves as a Chaplain Colonel in the Army National Guard for the past thirty-two years.

He is a graduate of the University of the Cumberlands - Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership Degree, Luther Rice Seminary - Doctor of Ministry Degree, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Master of Divinity Degree, The United States Army Command and General Staff College, The United States Army Chaplain Center and School - Chaplain Officer Advanced Course & Colonel Course, Eastern Kentucky University - Bachelor of Science Degree, University of Kentucky - Certificate in Business Administration, and Somerset High School. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors.

He has served as the President of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Pastor’s Conference President of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and First Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and has served as a Trustee and Adjunct Professor of Missions and Ministry at the University of the Cumberlands and Kenya Baptist Theological College.

Dr. Toby has taught at Campbellsville University, Somerset Community College and served as a Certified Field Supervisor for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has worked as a substitute teacher in Jefferson County Public School System, Principal of Ninth and O Christian Academy in Louisville and he was a founder and Pastors Counsel member of Somerset Christian School. He currently serves as the Director of the Seminary Extension Center in Bowling Green, Kentucky and Assistant Track and Field Coach for Allen County Scottsville High School.

He, and his wife Cathy, have been married for twenty-nine years and they have a fifteen-year old son Daniel and a springer spaniel named Sparkey.

Dr. Jim Atkinson Professor of Higher Education and History
Office:6429 College Station Drive

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Dr. Jim Atkinson is a fifth generation native Oklahoman whose ancestors came through the Cumberland Gap and lived for decades in Adair County, Kentucky, before moving west in 1866. After graduating from a small rural High School north of Tulsa, he joined the United States Air Force at age 19 and served four years as an air traffic controller; his last year of service to the nation was as an air traffic control instructor. After receiving an honorable discharge, he attended St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and Cultural Anthropology. He then received a Master of Science in Higher Education and College Teaching with a focus on Tribes of the Great Plains and the American West from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the capital of the Western Band of the Cherokee Nation. His thesis was titled A History of Native American Education. He earned an EdD in Adult Education from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas; his dissertation was titled Faculty Perceptions of Teaching Styles at Three Selected Post Secondary Institutions in Northwest Arkansas Relating to the Andragogical Model.

Dr. Atkinson has spent more than twenty-five years working in the field of higher education as a Consultant, Coordinator, Director, Instructor, Lecturer, Associate Professor, Professor, Dean and Vice President for Student Services. His lifelong passion is the plains tribes of North America, and he has spent many years researching and working on the Pine Ridge and Upper Brule Reservations in South Dakota. He currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Coordinator of Instruction/Academic Development Office. University of Arkansas Student Development Center, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Director of Retention Management/Dean of Developmental and Continuing Education. Ottawa University, Ottawa, Kansas

Coordinator of Adult Learning Programs. Tulsa Public Schools, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Vice President for Student Services. Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, Miami, Oklahoma

Dean of Continuing Education and Community/College Relations. Rogers State University, Claremore, Oklahoma

Educational Consultant with Oklahoma Workforce Development Corporation and Cherokee Nation Historical Preservation.

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