Dr. Donna Ploessl, associate professor of special education at the University of Montevallo, has been promoted to the Dean of the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD). She has served as the interim dean of the college since June 2022 and has demonstrated a strong commitment to preparing highly skilled and knowledgeable students for careers in counseling, exercise and nutrition science, family and consumer sciences, leadership, teaching and technology.
“I am truly honored to accept the role of Dean of the College of Education and Human Development” Ploessl said. “In alignment with the college’s mission, I am committed to fostering a learning environment that values diversity, inclusion and excellence. I look forward to leading our dedicated faculty, staff and students in a collaborative supportive community that fosters the comprehensive development of individuals.”
Ploessl has been a UM faculty member since 2017, serving as an assistant professor of special education through 2021. During her time here, she has earned the 2022 Ernest Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award and the 2019 Jasper Harvey Award for Alabama’s Outstanding Teacher Educator from the Council for Exceptional Children.
“I’m delighted that Dr. Ploessl is continuing her service to the College of Education and Human Development as Dean,” said Dr. Courtney Bentley, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “As interim dean, she led the college through program level accreditations, supported faculty development and fulfillment, expanded academic programs and nurtured partnerships with local educational agencies. She is a strong servant leader who will continue to support the college in innovative and thoughtful ways.”
Ploessl’s research, which focuses on effective preparation of special and general education professionals, has been published in journals such as Southeastern Regional Association of Teacher Educators, Journal of Special Education Preparation and Annals of Anthropological Practice. She also serves on the Alabama State Department of Education Higher Education Task Force on the Science of Reading and is an external reviewer for conference presentation proposals for The Council for Exceptional Children.
Prior to starting at UM, Ploessl spent 15 years as an instructor at The Capitol School in Tuscaloosa, where her main responsibilities were curriculum planning and instruction in all academic and behavioral areas for students ages 9 to 13. From 2013-2017, she served as an assistant professor of special education at Stillman College, where she earned Faculty Research Award in 2017 and 2015.
UM’s CEHD hosts a diverse field of disciplines — teaching, leadership, technology, counseling, exercise and nutrition science, family and consumer sciences — and has earned a reputation for producing Alabama’s top professionals in each area. Small class sizes and distinguished faculty guarantee that students will obtain a valuable education with plenty of personal attention.
The college has also received program-specific recognition on the national Colleges of Distinction list, and the CEHD online graduate education programs ranked in the top 100 in the nation and in the top four in Alabama in U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 Best Online Graduate Programs rankings.
Click here to explore CEHD’s nationally-accredited undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including master’s, specialist’s and non-degree certifications.