Weber State’s female deans hope to inspire women in leadership

OGDEN, Utah – At Weber State University, seven out of eight college deans are women. For International Women’s Day, three of those deans shared their thoughts on the importance of women in leadership.

Kristin Hadley, dean of Jerry & Vickie Moyes College of Education, said it’s important for aspiring teachers to see women in leadership roles. A 2022 Utah State University study found that 48.6% of Utah school principals are women – lower than the national average of 54.6%. Women also made up only 12.2% of superintendents across the state. 

“At our orientation each semester, I tell incoming teacher candidates that there are many opportunities for them in the field of education,” Hadley said. “I didn't envision my current career path, but opportunities arose and I prepared myself to be able to accept those challenges.”

College of Science dean Andrea Easter-Pilcher has had a multifaceted career in biology and higher education, and said there’s still much to be done to improve the number of women in STEM fields. But having female leadership can help pave the way for others.

“A female dean at the head of any college or university is a game-changer in terms of what is brought to the table for discussion, how those discussions evolve, and who becomes inspired to take on these leadership roles,” she said. “I love this about my current position.”

Both Hadley and Easter-Pilcher said they didn’t enter academia looking to be part of leadership, but the support of colleagues helped convince them to take on the challenge.

“At each juncture along my career, I had people who tapped me on the shoulder and encouraged me to pursue these roles,” said Hadley, who began teaching at WSU in 2005. “I also felt the need for strong, effective women leaders in the field of education as a role model for others.”

Yasmen Simonian has been the dean of the Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions since 2008 and said it’s “wonderful” to have six other women at the dean level at Weber State. 

“It used to be that I was the only female dean for a while. I’m grateful for having female colleagues now,” she said. “We share information, solve problems, help one another, bounce ideas and much more. We celebrate and honor each other in leadership positions.”

For aspiring female leaders, Simonian encourages creating a support group and being an active participant, as well as learning from people whom they admire.

“Learn as much as you can,” she said. “Never underestimate who you are and what you know.”

Women pursuing leadership roles should also “take courage and step out of your comfort zone,” Easter-Pilcher added. “Believe that your words, thoughts, ideas and dreams have value.”

“Once you are in a leadership role, work actively to elevate others,” she said.

Weber State University’s other deans include the following:

  • Deborah Uman, Telitha E. Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities

  • Julie Rich, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences

  • Wendy Holliday, Stewart Library

  • Doris Geide-Stevenson (interim), John B. Goddard School of Business & Economics 

  • David Ferro, College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology 


Jessica Kokesh, social media editor


Bryan Magaña, public relations director