Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

This site is archival. Please visit the current MIZZOU magazine site for up-to-date content.

Around the Columns

21st-century dean

Daniel Clay

Daniel Clay, dean, College of Education.

Although the College of Education’s new dean has spent the last three years down south at Auburn University, he’s always been a Midwestern boy at heart.

Daniel Clay, MA ’91, PhD ’94, was born and raised in northern Minnesota. He completed his undergraduate work at the College of Saint Scholastica in Duluth, Minn., spent time at Michigan State University, Western Illinois University, and was a professor for nine years at the University of Iowa.

As an undergraduate at Duluth, it was professor and MU alumnus David Swenson, PhD ’77, who mentored Clay and steered him toward Mizzou. Clay was the first in his family to graduate from college, and his enthusiasm for higher education spread.

“When I was in graduate school, I invited my sister to live with me in Columbia,” says Clay of Denise Richards, BS HES ’96, now a high school crisis counselor in Warrenton, Mo. “Mizzou really helped to transform my family.”

As an associate dean for the College of Education at Auburn, Clay was involved with several projects at the elementary and secondary level targeting special education, math education, urban and rural school improvement and health issues, especially among minorities in the country’s No. 1 state for child obesity, Alabama.

Clay has a background in counseling psychology, but Tim Lewis, search committee co-chair and MU professor of special education, says Clay’s background diversity stood out.

“He represents a ‘21st-Century Dean,’ ” Lewis says. “The traditional dean was an eminent scholar from the faculty ranks who had an aptitude to work in administration. With economic times as they are, we have to think more like a private institution, making fundraising and strategic fiscal planning a central part of the job.”

Despite the recent rash of public school closures in Missouri, Clay is optimistic about the College of Education’s role.

“With the opportunities to make innovative changes in the state and nationally, these are exciting times,” he says.