Alumna Erin Lynch Named Associate Provost of Scholarship, Research and Innovation at WSSU

College of Education

SUMMARY: Dr. Erin Lynch ('02) has been named associate provost of scholarship, research and innovation at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina.

Dr. Erin Lynch, JMU Class of 2002, has recently been named associate provost of scholarship, research and innovation at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina. We checked in with her to find out about her time at JMU and since.

I see that you earned your Bachelor’s Degree in English Secondary Education here in 2002. What brought you to JMU initially?

I was recruited for the track team out of high school by Gwen Harris, and I began as a Biology/Pre-Med major with aspirations of medical school. After my first semester with a STEM heavy course load, I realized that wasn’t for me. I changed my major to English. I didn’t pick up the Secondary education until after volunteering at a Harrisonburg High School track meet and realizing I was really good at operationalizing things for youth to learn. That’s when I realized I could probably be a really strong teacher, and I could continue coaching. My second year I gave up my scholarship and took on coaching at HHS part time while I finished my degree at JMU. 


Do you have a special memory or favorite professor from your time here?

There are so many. The ones that were most formative in my development were Dr. Joanne Gabbin, who took me to my first academic conference giving me my first look at the academy; Dr. Jean Cash, who showed me what a warm-demander looked like as an educator; and Drs. Kemau Kemayo and Niktah Imani, who both showed me what it meant to be a veracious intellect and who never stops asking why


I know that you have gone on to earn several more higher degrees. How has your English teaching degree served you in each of these endeavors and how does it help you now in your newest position?

The English teaching degree set the foundational skills for my academic pursuits. After JMU I earned a Master’s in Education concentrating in Special Education from Peabody College at Vanderbilt. There I used the strong writing and analytical skills cultivated at JMU for a research focused curriculum. When I knew I needed to enter the academy to teach pre-service teachers, I was accepted into Tennessee State University’s doctoral program for Education with a concentration in Curriculum and Instruction. There I was offered a graduate assistantship on a National Science Foundation funded research project, and was able to harness the research skills provided by Vanderbilt in that role. I knocked out a graduate certificate in Non-Profit management while finishing my first dissertation, which again used my writing skills for technical writing of strategic plans and grant proposals. In this second doctoral program at Northcentral University, I have found PhD work requires the same skills I learned from JMU. While academic-toned social science writing is slightly different from humanities writing, the framework is the same. In my current role, I am responsible for cultivating research and scholarship, and generating innovative opportunities for my faculty and students. Being able to write grants, and teach others by demystifying the proposal development process is all thanks to the English teaching degree. I am a seasoned grant writer with over $450mil in proposals developed, but teaching others how to write in a compelling way is only part of what my degree provided. The other part is preparing adults to deal with the frequent rejection in the grant review world, and that is akin to teaching English literature where we prepare children to be vulnerable through the writing process.    


What would you say to brand new teaching majors that you wish someone would have told you 20 years ago?

I don’t think there is anything I missed out on learning; I believe everything that was invested into me while I was there was done so at just the right time. I remember transparent talks with Dr. Imani or Dr. Kemau during office hours. I remember the strong critiques from Dr. Cash that shaped my writing, and then creative encouragement from Dr. Gabbin that helped me find my poetic voice. It all played a part into preparing me to be independent, intrinsically motivated, and driven to pay it forward to as many students as I could when I got into the classroom. I wanted to recreate for so many students that experience I had with my exceptional faculty at JMU.  


Do you have a favorite spot on campus?

The quad. Laying out on a blanket reading on a nice day on the quad was always a favorite.


What was your go to meal at D-Hall?

The Waffle machine…you could never go wrong with a fresh hot waffle covered in strawberries and butter.


When was the last time you were on campus?

Aug 18th 2018 was the last time I was on campus. I brought my high school-aged daughter and a couple of her teammates to the JMU Women’s basketball camp.


Do you keep up with other Dukes?

I speak regularly with maybe three friends I made at JMU, and try to engage in as many JMU Black Alumni Chapter (BAC) events as possible with my work and travel schedule.


Outside of work, where do you spend your time?

Up until a year ago, it was chauffeuring my children to their practices and sports but since relocating to North Carolina it is mostly traveling to present or strengthen networks that will yield research opportunities for the university. While it sounds like work, the travel and networking is actually too much fun to be work.


Read any good books lately?

Always, the most recent good one was Drive by Daniel Pink, and before that was Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths.


Is there a question you’re always hoping someone would ask, but no one ever does?

“If you won a hundred million dollars, what would you do with it?”…I’d have an educational resources labs and endowed scholarships in my name at every school on whose campus I’ve ever been educated.

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Published: Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Last Updated: Thursday, January 13, 2022

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