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School Briefs
School of Marriage & Family Sciences

Dean Billings Answers SOMFS Students Questions

Dr. James Billings was recently named Dean of the School of Marriage and Family Sciences. Former Dean Branden Henline accepted the position of Vice President of Teaching and Learning for NCU.

HD:

What are the top three things you would like to accomplish during your first year as Dean?

JB:

While it will take a bit longer than a year to accomplish, I’d like to develop several new specializations within our M.A.M.F.T. program, launch a Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy (D.M.F.T.), and become the first university to offer a primarily distance-based Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy that is COAMFTE accredited.

HD:

Where do you hope the School of Marriage and Family Sciences is five or ten years from now?

JB:

SOMFS is a very young school. With this comes the opportunity to expand our program offerings and degrees. In addition to the goals I noted above, I’d like to see us offer additional family studies and human services degrees over the next five to 10 years, including a substance abuse / addiction degree, a family financial planning degree, and family studies degrees.

HD:

How does your role support student learning?


JB:

As Dean, it may appear that I have little impact on the day-to-day experience of SOMFS students but I don’t believe this to be true. A significant part of my job is ensuring that our SOMFS faculty are highly-qualified as well as passionate about teaching and working with their students, and that the curriculum we offer is current and rigorous enough to ensure students will be prepared and ready to practice in the field. In addition, it’s very important to me that we create and nurture a culture within our programs that allows and encourages the free flowing of ideas and suggestions – from faculty and students – in order to continually improve our degree plans.

HD:

What is your tenure with NCU?

JB:

I have been part of the NCU SOMFS community for almost nine years now. I have held almost every teaching and administrative position within the school, from teaching foundation courses in the MA program to chairing doctoral students in their dissertation, from being in charge of hiring and training all SOMFS faculty to overseeing the development and revision of all curriculum/courses. I love the work we do here at NCU. We are pioneering innovation in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy.

HD:

How do you hope to influence curriculum development moving forward?

JB:

I would like to see a significant shift and increase in the use of video lectures, by NCU faculty, that are embedded in all MFT course materials. In addition, I want to leverage The Commons as a way for students to engage with one another throughout out their programs, both inside and outside the classroom.

HD:

How can you make yourself more visible to the student body?

JB:

This is a good question, one that I’ll be honest, I don’t have a great answer for yet. SOMFS students are busy working adults, with a limited amount of time to focus on their rigorous graduate program. Finding times and dates that work for a majority of students for virtual school level town hall meetings or discussion forums has been challenging. Looking to the future, I think The Common will allow me to have more visibility and contact with SOMFS students.

HD:

Will you be promoting an open door policy?

JB:

That open door policy exists today. I want SOMFS students to share their experiences, good or bad, with me. Hearing directly from students about what is working and what we can improve upon is important. With that said, I do believe there is a proper and professional way to address concerns. Students who have concerns about a course or issues with a faculty member should first address those with their academic advisor and their faculty member. If this approach is unsuccessful in resolving the concern, then a student may of course to reach out to myself or the Program Director of their respective program.

Meet Assistant Dean, Dr. Darren Adamson

Dr. Darren Adamson joined NCU as an adjunct faculty member a little over four years ago. Since then, he has held several positions, including: Director of Engagement and Retention, Director of Curriculum Development and Program Director for the M.A.M.F.T. program. This summer he was named the Assistant Dean of the School of Marriage and Family Sciences. In this role, he is responsible for everything from handling grade appeals, approving graduation requests, and managing the SOMFS faculty hiring process, to supervising all 37 core and adjunct faculty members.

A Quick Conversation with Dr. Adamson

HD:

What instructor (at any level) influenced your education the most?

DA:

Mr. Henry Moffitt, my choir teacher in seventh, eighth and ninth grade influenced me the most. I was not headed in a positive direction. Mr. Moffitt encouraged me to keep singing and he believed I could even get a scholarship to go to college. As a first generation college student, his belief that I could overcome my teenage angst turned my life around.

HD:

How would you describe yourself in 140 characters or less?

DA:

Passionate about making a difference in my world by caring deeply about others and being grateful for life and the opportunities I have.

HD:

You work virtually. Are there any productivity or work/life secrets that you’ve discovered?

DA:

I structure my days so that there is a separation between personal and work life times and spaces. I’ve also learned to clearly define my desired outcomes for each day. I try to have a set quitting time since working late can easily become the norm.

HD:

What is your favorite movie?

DA:

The 1971 version of Fiddler on the Roof!

James Billings, Ph.D.

James Billings, Ph.D.

Darren Adamson, Ph.D.

Darren Adamson, Ph.D.

Branden Henline, Ph.D.

Branden Henline, Ph.D.

Dale Bertram, Ph.D.

Dale Bertram, Ph.D.

Lisa Kelledy, Ph.D.

Lisa Kelledy, Ph.D.

Bill Northey, Ph.D.

Bill Northey, Ph.D.

Yulia Watters, Ph.D.

Yulia Watters, Ph.D.

Asha Sutton’s, Ph.D.

Asha Sutton’s, Ph.D.

Shay Thomas, D.M.F.T.

Shay Thomas, D.M.F.T.

Faculty Accomplishments

  • NCU’s School of Marriage and Family Sciences made history this summer as the first University offering a distance-based Ph.D. M.F.T. program to submit a self-study for review for COAMFTE accreditation.
  • James Billings, Ph.D. (Dean), Darren Adamson, Ph.D. (Assistant Dean), Branden Henline, Ph.D. (Vice President of Teaching and Learning), and Dale Bertram, Ph.D. (Adjunct Faculty), were invited to present at the 2014 National American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Conference in Milwaukee, Wisc. (October 16-19, 2014).
  • Lisa Kelledy, Ph.D., has been named M.A.M.F.T. Program Director.
  • Bill Northey, Ph.D. (Director of Clinical Field Placement) is running for the board of directors of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
  • Yulia Watters, Ph.D. (Director of Curriculum Development) has been invited to present her speech “Constructivist Grounded Theory Steps towards Change” at the Qualitative Report’s 6th Annual Conference in January, 2015.
  • Asha Sutton’s, Ph.D. (Adjunct Faculty) poster session "Child Welfare System Experiences of African Americans: Policy Implications" has been accepted for the National Council on Family Relations conference in November, 2014.
  • Shay Thomas, D.M.F.T. (Core Faculty) article "MFTs in the Media: Professional and Social Responsibility" was published in the July/August 2014 issue of Family Therapy.