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Finalists named for dean of College of Education and Human Sciences

The search committee for the dean position at South Dakota State University’s College of Education and Human Sciences has named three finalists, who will be on campus next week.

Each candidate will spend one day interviewing and meeting with university leadership, deans, researchers, faculty, students and staff. There will be open forums for each candidate to engage with other key stakeholders, including community and university members.

The finalists are (by interview date):

Karen Kopera-Frye headshot
Karen Kopera-Frye

Karen Kopera-Frye, Ph.D.
Professor, Public Health Sciences Department
New Mexico State University

Kopera-Frye is a professor in the Public Health Sciences Department at New Mexico State University, where she also coordinates the bachelor’s in public health degree and coordinates and teaches gerontology and cultural foundation courses in public health.

She interviews Tuesday, March 21. Her open forum will start at 1:30 p.m. in the Avera Health & Science Center, room 043. To participate in the open forum session via Zoom, visit Kopera-Frye Zoom.

Kopera-Frye received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and Ph.D. in lifespan developmental psychology and clinical psychology with a specialization in aging through Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. She then completed a CDC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington. In 2020, she graduated from New Mexico State University with a second master’s in public administration and a graduate minor in Native American studies.

She researches health promotion issues, such as obesity and health education, among culturally diverse groups, particularly Indigenous/Native American and Latinx families.

Kopera-Frye is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, Behavioral and Social Sciences Division, Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education, and the American Psychological Association, Division 20: Later Adult Development and Aging. She has served in various higher education academic leadership roles for over 18 years, including associate dean for academics, associate dean for research and department head.

Mwarumba Mwavita headshot
Mwarumba Mwavita

Mwarumba Mwavita, Ph.D.
Professor and director, College of Education and Human Sciences
Oklahoma State University

Mwavita is professor, founding director for the Center for Educational Research and Evaluation and immediate past interim associate dean for research and graduate studies for the College of Education and Human Studies at Oklahoma State University.

He interviews Wednesday, March 22. His open forum will start at 1:30 p.m. in the Avera Health & Science Center, room 043. To participate in the open forum session via Zoom, visit Mwavita Zoom.

Mwavita has spent over 20 years in education. His K-12 experience includes serving as a high school science and math teacher, coach, deputy principal and principal, and director of research and school improvement at an inner-city school district.

At the higher education level, he has trained future educators, human development professionals and others in the areas of health science, business in research design and statistics. He is a renowned methodologist leading statistics courses around the nation and the world. 

Mwavita received his Bachelor of Education degree from Kenyatta University, Kenya, and his Master of Arts degree in school administration and supervision from the University of Central Oklahoma. He earned his Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University in educational psychology, mapping student achievement growth and improving student performance and teacher education.

Vukovich 2022 cropped
Matthew Vukovich

Matthew Vukovich, Ph.D., FACSM
Professor and interim dean, College of Education and Human Sciences
South Dakota State University

Vukovich is professor and interim dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences at South Dakota State University.

He interviews Thursday, March 23. His open forum will start at 1:30 p.m. in the Avera Health & Science Center, room 041. To participate in the open forum session via Zoom, visit Vukovich Zoom.

Vukovich’s prior appointment was associate dean for research for the College of Education and Human Sciences, and he previously served as head of the Department of Health and Nutritional Sciences at SDSU.

He is a fellow with the American College of Sports Medicine. His tenure at SDSU dates back to 1999.

Vukovich received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Iowa State University. He earned his Ph.D. from Ball State University in human bioenergetics. He was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.

Vukovich's research has focused on the athletic performance, interaction of nutrition and exercise on body composition, hormones and muscle-bone relationships.

For more information on each of the dean finalists, including their curriculum vitae, Zoom and evaluation links, go to