The College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST) at Illinois State University is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year! This series, CAST 50×50, is designed to highlight 50 faculty, staff, students, alumni, and organizations within CAST that make the college special. These notable people will tell you that every day in CAST is a great day to be a Redbird!

#CAST50 is excited to start off the spring semester with our new dean, Todd McLoda!

Tell us what it means to be a dean: What will your main job responsibilities be?

The textbook answer is that the dean serves as the chief academic and fiscal officer for the college. In addition, the dean serves as an advocate for the college to the rest of the university and to the greater community. This advocacy includes the faculty and academic programs, the students, the alumni, and the relationships we have with our corporate and community partners. My main responsibilities include management of the college budget, strategic planning and implementation of the resultant plan, coordination of college governance, fundraising and advancement for the college, and ensuring the College of Applied Science and Technology is meeting or exceeding university goals and expectations.

What part of the job are you the most excited for?

I am most excited for what the next few years hold for the college. We are at a critical juncture. Our enrollment is at an all-time high and, at the same time, our state-provided resources have been significantly reduced. We have a highly productive faculty and highly sought-after academic programs and alumni. As we embark on the next strategic plan for the college, we must consider the possibility for new academic programs that will permit us to grow and we must seek new sources of revenue to meet our goals for even higher levels of success.

Look in your desk right now … what is the most unusual item you have?

Most would probably identify my stapler as a bit unusual. It was left on my desk by Dr. Bill Kauth, who preceded me as program director for the athletic training program and retired in 2000. The stapler is at least 40 years old. In fact, I once saw one just like it on eBay with a patent date of 1938.  I’ve kept it with me because it works so well, but guests have commented that it “looks ancient.” I prefer to call it “vintage.”

What is your favorite sport? Favorite sports team? Are you more of a college sports fan or a professional sports fan?

My favorite sport to watch is basketball, but football is a close second. I definitely prefer college sports to professional. Of course, my favorite sports team is the Redbirds!

You’re making dinner tonight. What does your family say you are cooking?

Seasoned, grilled salmon with grilled asparagus and sautéed mushrooms. I tend to be the chef in the house, and I like to experiment with ingredients. Sometimes the food even tastes good!

What is your area of study? What is your favorite class to teach?

My discipline is athletic training. I began my professional career at an outpatient clinic near Cleveland, Ohio, and worked with a variety of patients from all walks of life. After gaining some great experience I left that clinic to join a new hospital-based sports medicine facility as an athletic trainer where I worked primarily with high school athletes. I returned to graduate school a couple years later to earn an advanced degree in athletic training. I was asked to teach a class as part of my graduate assistantship. It was during that very first college-level teaching role that I decided I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. to teach and conduct research full time. My favorite course to teach has always been whatever course I’m teaching at that moment. I like them all! I probably have the most experience teaching therapeutic modalities. I know what you’re thinking: What is that? In therapeutic modalities, the topics include the body’s response to injury including inflammation, pain, and healing. The content also includes many of the techniques we use in medical care to reduce patient symptoms and optimize healing. This might include ice, heat, ultrasound, traction, electrical stimulation, massage, and many others.

What is one fun fact we should know about you?

In addition to my role at Illinois State University, I enjoy working on my small hobby farm with my family. We have 17 chickens that provide eggs while consuming our fruit and vegetable scraps. All 17 have been named by my daughters, and they are likely the most pampered chickens in the entire state. I also enjoy woodworking, which is a self-taught talent that I have recently passed along to my youngest daughter who makes wood projects in 4-H. I built several pieces of furniture that we use daily.

What would you say to a #FutureRedbird considering a major within CAST?

I say, “Welcome to CAST!” We have outstanding academic programs that include at least one commonality, an applied focus. If you love working with others and you love working with your hands, we have a major for you. If you would rather work independently while developing new solutions to problems, we have a major for you. You might find your passion in agriculture working with crops or soils nutrients or animals. You might find it working with computers or computing systems or cybersecurity. You might find that passion serving as a teacher or even become an athletic trainer as I did. Perhaps your passion is in construction management or safety.  Maybe you prefer criminal justice sciences or fashion design. There are more than 40 applied programs for you to choose from. Contemplate your future. Think about what you love. And let us help you realize your passion.

Think you know someone who should be featured? Contact us!