Bellarmine University has named Elizabeth Dinkins interim dean of the Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education as it prepares to conduct a national search for a new dean to succeed Robert Cooter, who stepped down this week after seven years to return to his duties as a professor.

Elizabeth Dinkins

The Jefferson County Public Schools community is familiar with Dinkins, who spent eight years teaching language arts and literacy at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. She is associate dean and an associate professor of literacy education at Bellarmine.

In the announcement, Susan M. Donovan, Bellarmine’s president, said: “She’s a gifted teacher and impressive scholar with a strong reputation within the school, the university and the community. She is perfectly situated to continue building on exciting initiatives begun under Dr. Robert Cooter’s leadership.”

Dinkins, who received her doctorate in English education from the University of Virginia, will lead the school, which serves 870 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.

Under Cooter’s leadership, the school expanded to add three doctoral programs, added online graduate programs, developed new teacher in-service collaborations with several school districts, and expanded international service learning opportunities for students in undergraduate education programs, Bellarmine said.

Donovan said she had asked Dinkins to continue the school’s partnership with school districts throughout the region, including Jefferson, Bullitt and Carroll counties, while expanding its online education. The school offers a master of arts in education and a Rank I post-master’s program online.

In the announcement, Dinkins said she also hoped to develop a program that would allow students in some programs to earn both their undergraduate and master’s degrees in five years.

“I believe strongly in our mission and the good work that Dean Cooter and our faculty have created over the past years,” Dinkins said in the announcement. “It is my goal to continue this good work and explore ways to develop it further.”