Office of the Dean

The Dean's Office works to fulfill the School of Education’s top priorities: serving students, working with local schools and postsecondary institutions, human services agencies, and other partners to strengthen social and educational justice in the Inland Empire, and throughout the state of California. The dean is responsible for developing strategies that facilitate administrator, faculty and staff capacity to serve and meet the needs of the school’s students and constituents.

Dr. Nicol R. Howard, Dean for the School of Education, is responsible for the overall strategic planning, human resource, and fiscal management of the School. She is responsible for acquiring and maintaining relationships with a variety of community partners, including school districts, community colleges, non-profit organizations, alumni groups, and advisory boards. Additionally, Dean Howard is responsible for ensuring that the School meets applicable requirements from several accrediting bodies and licensing agencies while advancing the justice-oriented mission, vision, and principles of the School.


Meet the Dean's Team

  • School of Education, Department of Teaching and Learning

    Brian Charest

    Interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Assistant Professor, Co-Director of the Center for Educational Justice


Dr. Brian Charest, Interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, is responsible for strategy and administration of academic programs, oversight of accreditation and assessment, and faculty support and development. He provides academic leadership in collaboration with the Dean, faculty and staff to advance the mission, vision, and principles of the School of Education.


Sandra Smitson is the Executive Assistant to the Dean coordinates the dean’s calendar, assists with the dean’s initiatives, and supports the overall School budget. She is also responsible for adjunct faculty contracts, adjunct faculty onboarding, adjunct faculty/university supervisor timecard approving, course scheduling, course evaluations, and academic calendaring for the School of Education.


Maribel Cruz, Administrative Assistant II in the School of Education Dean’s Office, serves as the key support for logistics and administrative tasks for the School. Maribel assists with finance and budgetary needs, event planning and support, room booking and approval, book ordering and supply orders as well as coordinating faculty searches for the academic departments. Maribel holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chicano Studies from the University of California, Riverside


The Project Specialist for the School of Education. Their primary focus is on a 3-year grant-funded project, CalEPIC, where they plays a key role in ensuring the project's success by overseeing research, data compilation, and coordination. They also provide critical administrative support to the team. In addition to her work with CalEPIC and responsible for managing the dean's scheduling for external meetings, specifically grant and community partners.


Yessenia Yorgesen, Assistant Dean of Operations and Analytics, oversees the Office of Student Success and attends to various student-related matters. She closely works with Registrar’s Office, CAS Dean’s Office, Graduate and Professional Enrollment, and other university key constituents. In addition, she provides leadership in implementation of internal school communication strategy and action in coordination with the Dean’s Office and University Communications.