Jeffrey Fairbrother named dean of Auburn University’s College of Education

Published: August 27, 2020
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Following a national search, Jeffrey T. Fairbrother, associate dean in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been named the next dean of Auburn’s College of Education and a professor in the School of Kinesiology, effective Oct. 1.

An accomplished scholar and higher education administrator, Fairbrother brings 20 years of leadership and experience to Auburn. While at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Fairbrother helped strategically expand the college’s research profile while developing high-quality educational experiences for faculty and students. During his tenure, Fairbrother led several initiatives to increase interdisciplinary research and engagement, strengthen the college’s academic partnerships with K-12 schools and broaden faculty teaching opportunities.

In appointing Fairbrother, Auburn Provost Bill Hardgrave cited his impressive background and commitment to advancing academic excellence, impactful research and diversity and inclusion throughout his career.

“In addition to his remarkable higher education experience and outstanding credentials, Dr. Fairbrother brings a bold vision to the College of Education at an especially critical time in our nation,” said Hardgrave. “As we continue to navigate the pandemic, we are seeing firsthand how it is reshaping teaching and learning across our country. With his strong record of leadership and scholarship, I am confident he will strategically position the college’s academic programs, research and engagement efforts while preparing the next generation of education practitioners.”

As dean, Fairbrother will oversee more than 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students, nearly 200 faculty and staff, four academic units and a robust research and outreach portfolio. Leading the college’s long-term goals of academic planning, faculty research and program innovation, Fairbrother will also work to elevate the student experience and direct outreach efforts, while fostering new partnerships and promoting alumni relations and fundraising.

A member of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville faculty since 2003, Fairbrother’s leadership experience includes prior roles as graduate studies director, department head, associate dean and interim dean. While serving as interim dean, Fairbrother led the college’s eight academic departments, encompassing more than 200 full-time faculty and staff members and 3,200 majors. As associate dean, Fairbrother launched several new initiatives to improve interdisciplinary research, develop revenue streams and support distance education to improve access and serve the university’s land-grant mission.

“I am honored to join the College of Education at Auburn,” said Fairbrother. “I look forward to supporting the students, faculty and staff of the college as we work together to increase our impact and advance the university’s mission.”

An admired professor and researcher in human performance and motor skills, Fairbrother’s scholarly portfolio includes authoring dozens of publications in premier journals, a book, several book chapters and ancillaries and several invited papers, technical reports and professional publications. A distinguished scholar who has given more than 100 professional presentations, Fairbrother currently serves as the director of University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Motor Behavior Laboratory and is a core faculty member of the Brain-Computer Interfaces Community of Scholars.

In addition to his scholarly achievements, Fairbrother is widely known throughout his professional associations, serving as the American Kinesiology Association’s current president-elect. In the past, he also served as the communication director for both the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity and the American Kinesiology Association. He has received numerous awards and honors, including a Southeastern Conference Academic Leadership Development Program Alumni Fellowship in 2018.

Fairbrother holds a bachelor’s degree in English (1991) from the University of California, Santa Barbara; a master’s degree in physical education (1997) from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; and a doctorate in movement science (2000) from Florida State University. He served for three years as an assistant professor of kinesiology at Towson University from 2000-2003 before transitioning to University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Fairbrother’s appointment succeeds Theresa McCormick, who began serving as interim dean in July following the retirement of Betty Lou Whitford.

Founded in 1915, the Auburn University College of Education offers more than 60 degree options in teaching, special education, educational leadership, kinesiology, counseling, adult education, educational technology and educational psychology. All of the college’s educator preparation programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, or NCATE, and approved by the Alabama State Department of Education or ALSDE. Programs in counseling and rehabilitation are accredited by the American Psychological Association, or APA, and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, or CACREP, and music education shares the National Association of Schools of Music, or NASM, accreditation with the College of Liberal Arts.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.