Human Development gets new leader

Cleveland shadowed his predecessor to learn how she managed the position



Michael Cleveland succeeded Laura Hill as department head after being nominated for the position by his coworkers. Hill stepped down to become vice provost for Faculty Development and Affairs.

SOLEN AREF, Evergreen reporter

In December, WSU’s Department of Human Development announced associate professor Michael Cleveland’s succession of Laura Hill as department head.

Cleveland joined WSU as a staff member in 2016. He said he never imagined becoming department head until Hill asked him if he would consider the job.

“Talking to her and talking to other friends that I have made me realize that maybe there was some great potential in assuming a leadership role,” Cleveland said.

Cleveland said his area of expertise includes substance abuse and addiction prevention. Before starting at WSU, Cleveland worked as a research scientist at Penn State University.

He said he first realized his passion for human development as a pharmacy major at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.

Since then, he has completed his master’s in counseling at Northwest Missouri State as well as his doctorate in human development and family studies in Iowa State.

When choosing the next department head, the department’s faculty unanimously voted to nominate someone already working in the department for the position, he said.

André-Denis Wright, dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, then asked all faculty members who they wanted to nominate for the position, Cleveland said. He said he felt a lot of responsibility after being nominated for the position by his coworkers.

Cleveland said his main goal will be to maintain the progress the department has had within the past few years.

“Laura Hill […] she’s done a tremendous job in increasing our enrollment among undergraduate students,” Cleveland said.

Hill stepped down from her role to take on a new job as vice provost for Faculty Development and Affairs in WSU’s provost office.

Cleveland said he is excited about his new role.

“I am most excited about working with the [human development] faculty to develop promotion guidelines as we implement the new WSU tracks and appointments for career-track faculty,” he said.

Taking on this new role has left him with a lot to learn, Cleveland said. To make his transition easier, he shadowed Hill in the fall to learn how she manages duties as the department head. This also helped him see her decision-making process along the way, he said.

Cleveland said he believes a good leader is one who has great listening skills. He said he sees this as one of his greatest qualifications for the new position, and he believes it is an extremely valuable skill that will help him a lot.

Kaylee Wren, a junior double majoring in psychology and human development said she didn’t know there was a new department head.

“I hope he helps continue a caring relationship between the professors and the students that already exists in the department,” she said.

Wren said she had her professors’ support after she had a family emergency last semester. Her professors were very accommodating, she said.

“They were extremely kind and I am very grateful for all their help,” she said.