Communication Faculty

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Purdue Global Leadership

Sara Sander
Sara Sander, PhD
Academic Dean and Vice President

Sara Sander began her career with Purdue Global (formerly Kaplan University) in 1997. She has served in a variety of positions including professor of communications and languages and program coordinator for the School of Arts and Sciences, now known as the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Her experience includes over 15 years of teaching adult learners, with a focus in the last 10 years in online education and administration.

Education: PhD, Capella University; MA and BA, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

Research Interests: Emotional intelligence, faculty performance and behaviors, communication in the online classroom

Sara Sander Link
Sara Sander, PhD
Academic Dean and Vice President
Miranda Brand
Miranda Brand, EdD
Associate Dean

Miranda Brand has served as associate dean in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences since 2011. She joined Purdue Global (formerly Kaplan University) in 2006 as an adjunct instructor in the School of Graduate Education and subsequently led the Department of Educational Studies as academic chair from 2008 to 2011. Prior to joining Purdue Global, she served 20 years in public education in various roles including teacher, curriculum coordinator, staff development presenter, and school administrator.

Education: EdD, Nova Southeastern University

Miranda Brand Link
Miranda Brand, EdD
Associate Dean
Tessa Holst
Tessa Holst, MS
Assistant Dean

Tessa Holst currently serves as the assistant dean of students within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences where she oversees and generates initiatives to develop student engagement and improve student retention. She is also responsible for problem identification and resolution for second-level student complaints and conflicts. Prior to her current role, Holst served as the graduation director and event planner within the Provost Office. She was responsible for bi-annual graduation event ceremonies, celebrations, and faculty retreats. She has worked in higher education for over 25 years and recently completed her second term as school board member for her local school district, having served for 4 years as president. 

Education: MS, Kaplan University (now Purdue University Global)

Honors and Achievements: 2017 Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Non-Academic Support Team Award (Kaplan University), 2005 Hero Award (Kaplan University), 2003 Extra Mile Award (Kaplan Higher Education)

Tessa Holst Link
Tessa Holst, MS
Assistant Dean
Betsy Tomei
Betsy Tomei, MBA
Assistant Dean

Betsy Tomei oversees the scheduling team responsible for the College of Social Behavioral Sciences, School of Nursing, and Concord Law School and manages the Universal Scheduling process for campus and online programs. She has also served as adjunct instructor, assistant chair of the Department of Professional Studies, and scheduling manager. Tomei has been in the field of education both as an educator and administrator since 1995. She started her career with Johnson & Wales University as a financial planning counselor and financial aid officer. Tomei later joined the Chicago Public School Department, where she served as a teacher and technology coordinator, and returned to higher education when she joined Purdue Global.

Education: MBA, Johnson & Wales University; MA, Saint Xavier University

Betsy Tomei Link
Betsy Tomei, MBA
Assistant Dean
Dena AuCoin
Dena AuCoin, EdD
Department Chair

Dena AuCoin began at the University as an adjunct faculty member, moving to the assistant academic chair and the academic chair. She previously taught various undergraduate courses in early childhood with an emphasis in special education. Currently, she oversees numerous innovations in curriculum, oversees three departments, and participates in ongoing review of data to implement changes at course, department, and university levels. Before joining Purdue Global, AuCoin was an educator in early childhood, elementary, and special education for 15 years. She started her academic career at Grand Canyon University in 2009.

Education: EdD, Northcentral University

Publications: Chapter for a Montessori administration textbook

Research Interests: Early transition language and self-determination for students with disabilities, Montessori collaboration in special education, autism social skills, response to intervention in early childhood, support for students with disabilities in the Montessori classroom, how to make student collaboration more effective in the online environment

Dena AuCoin Link
Dena AuCoin, EdD
Department Chair

Purdue Global Full-Time Faculty and Full-Time Adjuncts

Will Hughes
Will Hughes, PhD
FT Adjunct

Will Hughes is a full-time adjunct professor, teaching several communications courses and serving as course lead. He has been teaching on the college level for 27 years. Hughes is the executive producer of BIGTV, an independent producer of scripted content on the web. He is Apple certified in Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, Motion, and audio editing.

Education: PhD, University of Massachusetts Amherst; MFA, Columbia University School of Arts

Publications: Clarence: The Bully Caterpillar children’s screenplay; Bannerkill book series

Will Hughes Link
Will Hughes, PhD
FT Adjunct
Dorothy Williams
Dorothy Williams, PhD
FT Adjunct

Dorothy Williams has been with Purdue University Global (formerly Kaplan University) for more than 10 years, where she teaches a variety of communication courses and serves as course lead. She has served as a senior manager and director at the university level, and has also taught adult students at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate level for over 27 years, including over 18 years online. Williams has also served as a consultant for developing learning platforms that will best serve student learning.

Education: PhD, Walden University; MS, San Jose State University; BS, University of Colorado

Publications: “Do Graduate Students Who Set Formal Goals Really Graduate at Higher Rates?” (Building Sustainable Futures for Adult Learners), “Using Writing Admission Essays or a Basic English Course to Predict Success in Adult Undergraduate Students

Honors and Achievements: 2017 Outstanding FT Adjunct Award (Kaplan University College of Social and Behavioral Sciences), 2011 Outstanding FT Adjunct of the Year (Kaplan University), 2011 Colorado Springs Business Journal Women of Influence

Memberships: Association for Continuing Higher Education, Educating Children of Color

Research Interests: Student retention, course development, strategic development, change management

Dorothy Williams Link
Dorothy Williams, PhD
FT Adjunct