Stacy Kula, PhD, Named Dean of College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

Azusa Pacific University Provost Anita Fitzgerald Henck, PhD, named Stacy Kula, PhD, founding dean of the newly formed College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, effective July 1, 2024. Kula brings more than 25 years of education experience to the role with expertise in qualitative research methods, achievement gaps, and education of underserved and immigrant populations.

“With the responsibility to finalize the realignment of academic areas, APU selected an accomplished, wise, and caring leader to shepherd merging schools into cohesive, vibrant academic communities,” Henck said. “Through thoughtful review of comprehensive feedback, prayer, and consultation with President Adam J. Morris, Dr. Kula emerged as the finalist for the role, with tremendous support from across the university.”

As dean, Kula is responsible for the leadership, planning, direction, and management of the full range of undergraduate and graduate programs offered by the college. She will collaboratively and creatively advance scholarship, research, and integration of faith and learning. Kula’s top priorities will include recruiting, developing, and retaining a diverse faculty and staff, continuing to build financially viable programs, and representing the college with internal and external stakeholders.

“I am both humbled and enthusiastic in accepting the role of dean of the newly formed College of Education and Behavioral Sciences,” Kula said. “I see tremendous possibilities for synergy across our constituent departments whose work revolves in different ways around ensuring that God’s purposes for every precious individual come to fruition, whether through research or by equipping students to live out their calling. There is so much great work already happening, and I look forward to celebrating and building on that!”

Kula began her career serving as an educator as a Spanish teacher and the co-chair of the Language Department at Monrovia High School. She later transitioned into faculty positions in the Teacher Education program at Claremont Graduate University and at Life Pacific University, where she also assumed administrative assignments. In 2016, Kula joined APU’s faculty as a qualitative methodologist in the doctoral Educational Leadership program, which expanded to include the role of faculty coordinator for the teaching emphasis in the MEd program. She was then appointed as the director for the doctoral program in Educational Leadership, and has served as department chair and a member of the School of Education leadership team since 2021. Kula also served in other roles on campus including chair of the Doctoral Studies Council, chair of the Faculty Research Council, and as the general education faculty mentor for Title V Hispanic Serving Institution Grant. Simultaneously, Kula maintained an active research agenda and was awarded with APU’s Rose Leigler Graduate Faculty Scholarship Achievement Award in 2022.

Kula holds a PhD in Education with an emphasis in Teaching, Learning, and Culture from Claremont Graduate University (CGU), a MA in Education with specializations in teaching Spanish language and literature, teaching in multilingual/multicultural settings, and language arts methods from CGU, and a BA in Linguistics and Spanish Literature from Pomona College. Kula’s areas of research include immigration experiences and factors of achievement for students from Latin American immigrant and Indochinese refugee families—groups particularly underserved by educational institutions. She received CGU’s prestigious Tae Han Kim Award for commitment to culture and humanity in research. Her dissertation, Explaining the Success of High-Achieving 2nd-Generation Latino Students at Elite Colleges and Universities, led to further research and numerous publications, including a co-edited book, High-Achieving Latino Students: Successful Pathways Toward College and Beyond, which won the 2021 American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education’s Book of the Year award in the edited book category. 

The College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, launching July 1, 2024, represents a merger of two current schools—the School of Education and the School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences. The college is comprised of the Department of Clinical Psychology, the Department of Criminal Justice, the Department of Educational Leadership, the Department of Higher Education, the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy, the Department of Psychology, the Department of School Counseling and School Psychology, the Department of Social Work, and the Division of Teacher Education. The new school brings together more than 110 faculty and staff and serves more than 2,100 students.