A Special Thanks

Mark A. Nook - President, UNI

Mark Nook

Mark A. Nook began serving as the 11th president of the University of Northern Iowa on February 1, 2017. Prior to this appointment, he served as chancellor of Montana State University Billings (MSUB). 

Originally from Holstein, Iowa, Nook has committed his Midwest education and values to higher education for many years and on many levels. He is dedicated to ensuring every member of the university community reaches their individual educational, professional and personal life goals.

Prior to serving as the chancellor at MSUB from 2014-2016, Nook was the senior vice president for Academic and Student Affairs at the University of Wisconsin System from 2011-2014. He also served as provost (2007-09 and 2010-11) and interim chancellor (2009-10) at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and in a variety of roles at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.

He graduated from Southwest Minnesota State University in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics, a master's degree in astrophysics from Iowa State University in 1983 and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1990. 

Dr. Nook has accepted the challenges as well as the equal rights of all as he has become the leading voice at the University of Northern Iowa in the strategic plan’s promotion of Diversity. As the African American Children and Families Conference is now in  the 10th year and the UNI African American Read-In in the 15th year, we are grateful that in the midst of the pandemic, he is the supporting voice of keeping these university events alive. “The time is now: Make a difference! 

President Nook and his wife, Cheryl, reside in the UNI President's House. They have three adult children, two granddaughters and two grandsons. The African American Children and Families Conference appreciates President Nook with much gratitude.

Gwenne Berry - UNI's Chief Diversity Officer

Gwenne BerryGwenne Berry received the torch as the first University of Northern Iowa Chief Diversity Officer. She comes to this position from the Office of Compliance and Equity Management, UNI. She also serves as Assistant to the President. Ms. Berry continues to bring innovative ideas to help with the promotion of diversity on campus and in the community. This year she is the initiator of the Healing Circle and the African American Affinity Group and the Economic Inclusion Conference, among some of her duties.

Ms. Berry has served as a member of the Conference and Read-In Task Force.


Dr. Colleen S. Mulholland - Dean, Associate Professor, College of Education

Dr. Colleen S Mulholland

Dr. Colleen S. Mulholland received her doctorate degree from the University of Central  Florida in Curriculum and Instruction.
She received a Master’s Degree from University of Central Florida in Instructional Systems Design and a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Kentucky, Middle School Education.

As the Dean of College of Education, Dr. Mulholland resumed two pre-conference/read-in meetings with a small group of UNI faculty, staff and community members to pre-plan and brainstorm about the future of these experiences in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result we are her preparing for the 10th Annual Conference on African American Children and Families and the  African American Read-in in a virtual format.

She has encouraged us as we seek to find ways of maintaining high quality with the needed technological changes to meet the needs of the constituents who will be served!

The African American Children and Families Conference and the African American Read-In send special thanks to our Dean, College of Education, Dr. Colleen S. Mulholland.

Dr. James Wohlpart - Provost and Executive Vice President, Academic Affairs, UNI

James WohlpartDr. Jim Wohlpart shares, “I am eager to work with faculty and staff to continue that momentum and to elevate the great work we do with preparing students for academic and professional success and for meaningful engagement with their communities."  This has continued to be his motto since his first day on the campus here at the University of Northern Iowa.  Provost Wohlpart continues to maintain a leadership role in the promotion of the strategic plan with the promotion of diversity.

Provost Wohlpart came to UNI in 2015. He earned his Ph.D. in English and B.A. in English and philosophy from the University of Tennessee. He earned an M.A. in English from Colorado State University.

During his 21 years at Florida Gulf Coast University, Wohlpart held the positions of chair of the Division of Humanities and Arts and associate dean for planning and assessment in the College of Arts and Sciences. He participated in the development of the Liberal Studies degree and the Interdisciplinary Core.  He was also instrumental in developing the First Year and Transition Experience model!

At UNI, Wohlpart has focused on three broad areas: organizational structure, strategic planning and community development/engagement. He has enhanced diversity initiatives/experiences for students, faculty and community members. We welcome Dr. Wohlpart as an avid supporter of the African American Children and Families Conference and UNI’s African American Read-In. He continues to strive at making UNI a more inclusive  and diversified environment for all.

Robert Smith, Jr. - Executive Director, Educational Opportunity Programs & Special Community Services

Robert Smith, Jr.The African American Children and Families Conference and the African American Read-In would like to thank Robert Smith, the Executive Director Educational Opportunity Programs and Special Community Services, University of Northern Iowa Center for Urban Education, located in Waterloo, Iowa!

Mr. Smith served as the keynote speaker at the 9th Annual Pre-conference on African American Children and Families, February , 2020. He currently serves as a member of the Conference on African American Children and Families and the African American Read-in Task Force, UNI!

We would like to thank Mr. Smith for his support as well as his leadership role in the promotion of diversity for many of our underserved populations in our communities as well as meeting the needs of students, faculty and staff on campus.

Thanks for all that you do in making UNI a better place for all.

Dr. Robin Dada - Head, Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Dr. Robin DadaDr. Robin Dada leads an academic program which is the home to elementary education, early childhood education, middle level education, instructional technology, literacy education and school library studies. There are offerings for both undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Robin Dada has served as  department head since mid-2018. Dada has a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and previously served as the College of Education dean at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates.

This is Dr. Dada’s second year as a member of our African American Children and Families Conference and the African American Task Force! She is one of the first department heads to serve in this leadership role with our work. Last year, Dr. Dada and students in Curriculum and Instruction sent out the invitations to middle and high schools, thus resulting in the highest number of middle school students to ever attend the Conference.