Michael Sampson, dean of the School of Education at Southern Connecticut State University, has been selected as the new dean of the College of Education at Northern Arizona University.

Sampson will start July 1, filling a position that has been held by interim dean Gypsy Denzine since July 2010. Denzine plans to go on her first sabbatical and return to her research in educational psychology.

“Michael is the ideal choice to help the College of Education sustain and expand its leading role in the state,” said Liz Grobsmith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “He is experienced in identifying new opportunities and unconventional programs that can serve teachers and schools in a region like ours.”

Sampson earned his doctorate in reading education from the University of Arizona in 1980. After spending 25 years as a professor and administrator at Texas A&M University-Commerce, he moved to the University of South Florida St. Petersburg in 2007 where he chaired the reading program and the Graduate Council.

Three years later, Sampson took the position of dean at Southern Connecticut State.

“I’m looking forward to joining and leading the NAU community of nationally and internationally respected scholars, and to help faculty and students achieve to their highest level possible,” Sampson said. “During the interview process, I was very impressed with the faculty, staff and administration. I can’t wait to get to Flagstaff to begin our work together.”

In addition to being an instructor and administrator, Sampson is a prolific author of children’s books. Either as a sole author or in partnership with Bill Martin Jr., whom Sampson met while at Arizona, Sampson has published dozens of titles. He also is the author of six college textbooks and more than 50 professional articles.

“Early in my career, I did research in northern Arizona, and I fell in love with Flagstaff,” Sampson said. “I thought then how lucky the NAU faculty are to live and work in such a beautiful place. In my dreams, I saw myself there. Now, years later, that dream is coming true for me.”

NAU’s search for a dean began nearly two years ago when Daniel Kain left that position to become vice provost for Academic Personnel.

The College of Education at NAU is the only one in Arizona accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, a distinction also held by the School of Education at Southern Connecticut State. Programs for teacher preparation and professional development have remained key parts of NAU’s mission since its founding as a teachers’ college in 1899.