Distinguishing Features

A trio of new endowed professors brings expertise in Native health issues, educational leadership and business innovation

By DAVID TEAGUE

Turner Goins, who hit campus in August, is the university’s first Ambassador Jeanette Hyde Distinguished Professor of Gerontological Social Work and a nationally recognized expert on American Indian aging issues. With a strong background in public health, Goins is beginning her work at WCU by continuing a research project with the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians that has spanned 13 years.

Turner Goins

R. Turner Goins

“Chronic health conditions that occur in older adults, such as diabetes, are substantially higher among American Indians,” Goins said. “I see myself as collaborating with the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians to address issues that the tribe identifies as important and working with them on those issues.”

Her work at WCU will mirror research conducted with other tribes, notably the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, through her previous position at Oregon State University. One of her goals is to implement a health-promotion program called Fit and Strong!, which has been successful in helping aging tribe members with arthritis stay independent and mobile as long as possible.

Goins also is finalizing details on implementing a project funded by a four-year grant from the National Institutes of Health that will allow her to expand into other research areas. “Our objectives in this application are to examine the association of mental health and diabetes control and complications, and to determine the role that social support plays,” she said.

The position at WCU is a return to North Carolina for Goins, who grew up in Raleigh and graduated from East Carolina University. She attended graduate school at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and studied at the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development in Duke University’s Medical Center in 1997-98 through a National Institute on Aging Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in epidemiology.

Kofi Lomotey

Kofi Lomotey

Kofi Lomotey, who also marks a first as WCU’s inaugural Chancellor John Bardo and Deborah Bardo Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership, arrived in September and is working with 20 students in a newly redesigned doctoral program in education.

The curriculum is designed to allow the students, most of whom are already serving as public school teachers or administrators, to work through problems in education as they experience them in their schools or districts. “They can identify problems in their environment and develop their dissertation around trying to address those challenges,” said Lomotey. “The goal of this approach is to improve current practice instead of just testing theories.”

Lomotey was formerly a senior fellow at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and has held numerous leadership roles in higher education, including as former chancellor at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, La. His background includes a master’s degree and doctorate in educational administration and policy analysis from Stanford University, a master’s degree in education from Cleveland State University and a bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in black studies from Oberlin College.

Lomotey’s latest scholarly work, titled the “Handbook of Urban Education,” was released in November. Lomotey, who co-edited the book, said the compilation addressed the “good, the bad and the ugly” of urban education and contained the best scholarly writing on the subject in the last 20 years.

Joseph Lakatos

Joseph P. Lakatos

In the College of Business, Joseph Lakatos, the new Wesley R. Elingburg Distinguished Professor of Business Innovation, has his mind set on making WCU a hub for some of the most creative and experiential study of entrepreneurship, business and economic development in the Carolinas.

Over the next two-plus years, his goals include adapting the curriculum so that each student can tailor it to personal needs; growing and strengthening the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which he directs; and starting an academic journal that presents case studies of successful business ventures. He also hopes to create a learning environment with ongoing opportunities for students to meet with business leaders from a variety of disciplines, from chief executives to venture capitalists.

Lakatos recently had the opportunity to meet the man who helped fund the professorship, Wes Elingburg ’78. “He has pretty much seen every aspect of business and is able to see the forest and the trees, not just one or the other,” Lakatos said. “These types of business people can give real lessons to our students. They show that those who teach can do and will do.”

Lakatos comes to WCU from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where he developed and taught courses in biotechnology law, corporate governance and business ethics, international business law, law for entrepreneurs, law for managers, intellectual property, and sustainability and growth.

He will draw on those experiences, as well as the experiences of economic development and business leaders, to continue building the center. “We basically have three kinds of students here – those who are going to start a business, those who are going to go work for a company, and those who will work for a company for a few years and then start their own business,” Lakatos said. “You can’t gear the program toward the Bill Gates of the world. You have to teach students in a way that is tailored to them.”