New Dean to lead COE


by Hannah Lynn Robinson

2019 Mark L'Esperance

After a comprehensive national search, James Madison University is pleased to announce that Mark L’Esperance will become the next dean of JMU’s College of Education, effective July 1, 2019.

L’Esperance is leaving his position as professor and chair of the Department of Elementary Education and Middle Grades Education at East Carolina University, where he is also the lead faculty administrator for the East Carolina University Community School.

L’Esperance joined the faculty at ECU in 1998 and has presented and published extensively at the state, national and international levels. L’Esperance has worked with public-school systems in coaching hundreds of administrators related to strategic planning and instructional leadership.

L’Esperance’s vision for JMU is to build upon an already strong foundation. It is his belief that the College of Education will embrace a culture of significance, empowered by a collective sense of purpose based on clearly defined mission, vision and goals. This vision aligns directly with JMU’s commitment to engagement. L’Esperance also hopes to elevate recognition of the college to a national level—highlighting the impact it has on both innovation and best practices in educator preparation, military science and through civic and community engagement.

“Based on the solid historical foundation and contemporary impact that James Madison University has in educator preparation and military science, I am very excited about the potential for developing interdisciplinary projects within the College of Education, at the university level, across the commonwealth of Virginia, nationally and internationally,” said L’Esperance. “A major focus will be to design an organizational structure that develops and promotes the current and future centers located in the college.”

Additionally, L’Esperance plans to spend time with individuals and small groups, listening to their stories and vantage points related to the College of Education and James Madison University. He wishes to learn about and understand the people, programs, policies, processes and places, as well as spend time working with faculty and students to ensure that new curriculum revisions are in place and that all stakeholders feel supported during transition.

When asked about what made L’Esperance a standout choice as the new dean, Heather Coltman, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said that L’Esperance brings to JMU a wealth and depth of experience along with a heartfelt passion for universal access to lifelong learning. “I am thrilled to welcome him to the academic leadership team at JMU.”

L’Esperance’s graduate studies included doctoral work at Indiana University and earning a Ph.D. in 1998 from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. He is a native of Lynn, Massachusetts, and enjoys spending time with his wife of 32 years, Pam, along with their three adult children and their families. In his free time, he enjoys reading, weightlifting and watching college sports.


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Published: Friday, June 7, 2019

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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