Illinois State University Provost Aondover Tarhule has appointed Dr. Deneca Winfrey Avant as interim assistant vice president for faculty development, diversity and learning, beginning July 1. Additionally, he has named Dr. Craig Gatto as interim associate vice president for academic administration beginning August 1. 

Avant will replace Dr. Yojanna Cuenca-Carlino who has been named chair of the Department of Special Education. An associate professor of social work, Avant joined Illinois State University in 2009. She has served the School of Social Work as interim director for the past two years and oversees First Star Academy, a grant-funded program, within the Center for Child Welfare and Adoption Studies. Avant’s research has been primarily focused within the areas of social justice, school social work practice, youth in foster care, and faculty supports.

Gatto will replace Dr. Roberta Seelinger Trites, who is retiring from the University. A University Professor of biology, Gatto joined Illinois State University in 2000. He has served as the interim chair of the Department of Chemistry since 2020. Prior to that, he served as director of the School of Biological Sciences from 2010-2020. He has received numerous grants focused on the biochemistry and physiology of ion transport proteins and is a member of the University’s Million Dollar Club.

“I am confident the addition of Dr. Avant and Dr. Gatto will have a positive impact on Academic Affairs at Illinois State University,” said Tarhule. “Both will bring unique talents and ideas to our office, and I welcome their leadership as we work toward our division goals.”

Searches for the permanent staffing of both positions will take place during the next academic year with anticipated start dates of July 2023.