Welcome to the Office of the Dean
Thomas Prohaska, Ph.D.
College of Health and Human Services
George Mason University
Dr. Prohaska received his PhD from Virginia Commonwealth University and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, focusing on gerontological and health psychology. He holds an MA in psychology from Middle Tennessee State University and a BA in psychology from Roger Williams College. In his career, Prohaska has had more than 75 journal articles published and was the editor of five books and journal issues. He acted as a consultant for the public television show “Sit and Be Fit,” an exercise program aimed at older adults with limited mobility. He was also a consultant and contributing author on two National Institute on Aging exercise guides, the first of which saw a distribution of more than 1.1 million manuals and 40,000 videos. He has been honored as a fellow for the Gerontological Society of America, and with the Distinguished Professor Gerontology/Geriatrics Award from the University of California Los Angeles Academic Geriatric Resource Center for exceptional work and valuable contributions to the field of aging.
Senior Associate Dean, Academic Affairs
Dr. Whittington is Professor of Gerontology and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. His research interests focus on the social dimensions of health and health care of older persons, especially African Americans. His goal is to understand how the kind and quality of long-term care older people receive affects their overall social and physical functioning and quality of life. Dr. Whittington has studied prescription drug use and misuse by older people, the use of physical and chemical restraints in nursing homes, and the experience of poor African American elders as recipients of long-term home care services. Most of his recent work has been focused on global aging and the development of gerontology as a global science and area of practice.
His publications include 11 books and over 65 articles and chapters on health behavior, long-term care, and global aging. With 5 colleagues in the Georgia State University Gerontology Institute and based on research funded by the National Institute on Aging and the AARP Andrus Foundation, he co-authored a 2005 book published by the Johns Hopkins University Press, entitled Communities of Care: Assisted Living for African Americans. More recently he co-edited a volume with colleagues Erdman Palmore of Duke and Suzanne Kunkel of Miami University, entitled the International Handbook on Aging. Published in 2009 by Praeger Publishers, the handbook includes chapters about aging research, education, and policy in 47 countries around the world. In 2013 he co-edited with Suzanne Kunkel a special issue of Generations on global aging, and in 2014 he co-authored a textbook with Kunkel and Scott Brown, entitled Global Aging: Comparative Perspectives on Aging and the Life Course, which was published by Springer.
Prior to his move to Mason in 2008, Dr. Whittington was at Georgia State University for 35 years, where he was on the faculty of the Sociology Department and deeply involved in developing the gerontology program, becoming Director of the Gerontology Institute in 1995. Dr. Whittington has served as President of the Southern Gerontological Society, which selected him to receive the Gordon Streib Academic Gerontologist Award in 2009. He has been actively involved with the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education for over 30 years, and in 2010 received the Clark Tibbitts Award for outstanding contributions to academic gerontology. He currently holds the position of Book Review Editor of The Gerontologist. He enjoys mentoring students and has directed 14 doctoral dissertations and 15 master's theses.
Associate Dean for Research and Program Evaluation
Dr. Howell, Associate Dean of Research and Program Evaluation, serves as the College's contact point for research issues with faculty, administrators, and all University-related offices and coordinates accreditation activities including Mason's SACS accreditation. He also participates in recruiting and hiring research faculty and supporting the development of their individual research programs. Dr. Howell is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the National Council of University Research Administrators, Council on Undergraduate Research, American Public Health Association, Society for Public Health Education, and American School Health Association.
Associate Dean, Community Engagement
Dr. Coussens is the Associate Dean for Community Engagement for the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) and in her role oversees the academic outreach, marketing and communication, development, and engagement programs with CHHS's partners. Prior to joining CHHS, she was the senior scientist and the Chief Operating Officer of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery—a 2200 membership organization. In her role, she oversaw education, marketing and communications, and operations. She also spent 14 years at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies as a Senior Program Officer working primarily on the Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine, but also oversaw a project on Lyme and other tick-borne disease, and collaborated on the VA National Formulary, Earth Sciences and Environmental Health, and nervous system disorders in developing countries. Dr. Coussens completed her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from Kent State University and Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine (now Northeastern Ohio Medical University). She completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. She is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and IOM reports.
Associate Dean, CHHS
Director, School of Nursing
Dr. Urban, Associate Professor of Nursing, is the Director for the School of Nursing and Associate Dean, CHHS. She served as Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Nursing since 2006, administering the BSN program for over 500 students. She teaches courses in pharmacology, pathophysiology/medical-surgical nursing, and physical assessment. Dr. Urban serves on George Mason University's General Education Committee and Distance Education Council. Her dissertation focus was on the use of computer-based supplemental instruction for students at-risk for academic difficulties and she is a member of the National Association for Developmental Educators, National College Learning Center Association, and the College Reading and Learning Association.
Susan J. Swett
Assistant Dean, Office of Student Affairs
Susan Swett has worked at George Mason University since 1989 in undergraduate and graduate admissions. Prior to coming to the College of Health and Human Services in 2008 as the Assistant Dean in Student Affairs, she served as the Director of Graduate Admissions for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Mason. Her professional experience includes admissions work at Columbia University Graduate School of Business, Lafayette College, and Northampton Community College. She also spent a few years in New York City as the Director of Recruiting for the mid-town Manhattan office for Touche Ross, recruiting MBA graduates nationwide for their consulting division. Susan holds a BA in English from Lafayette College and a MEd in Counseling from Lehigh University.
Assistant Dean, Undergraduate Studies
Dr. Tompkins, Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies, teaches research and human behavior sequences and specializes in curriculum development, administration, and gerontological social work research. She is developing a distance education course on inter generational care giving. Dr. Tompkins has been pursuing two research tracks since arriving at Mason: 1) The need for supportive services for Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers and 2) an exploration of the potential care giving relationship that exists between grandparents and grandchildren residing within grandparent-headed households. In 2006, Dr. Tompkins was a co-investigator on a $30,000 research award from the Virginia Center on Aging to study: Ethics of Respect for Spirituality in Persons Living with Alzheimer's Disease. Dr. Tompkins was also the 2007 award recipient of GMU's College of Health and Human Services, Habit of Excellence Award and the 2006 award recipient of the Mit Joyner Gerontological Leadership award.
Prior to joining Mason, Dr. Tompkins served as Director of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) and as the Program Coordinator for the John A. Hartford funded project, Strengthening Aging and Gerontological Education in Social Work (SAGE-SW). She has had several opportunities to work with gerontological social work educators and researchers across the country. Publications resulting from this work include: An edited monograph, Fostering Social Work Gerontology Competence, (Tompkins, C.J. & Rosen, A.,2007); Teaching Aging: Syllabi, Resources & Infusion Materials for the Social Work Curriculum, (Kropf, N.P. & Tompkins, C.J., 2002); An Analysis of Social Work Textbooks for Aging Content: How Well do Social Work Foundation Texts Prepare Students for our Aging Society? (Tompkins,C.J., Rosen, A.L., & Larkin, H., 2006); Developing Visibility for Aging in Social Work (Tompkins, C.J. & Rosen, A.L. 2006); Increasing Aging and Advocacy Competency: The Inter generational Advocacy Pilot Project (Hermoso, J., Rosen, A.L., Overly, L. & Tompkins, C.J. 2006) and Innovations in Gerontological Social Work Education: Transforming Social Work Education, Guest Editorial (Hooyman, N.R. & Tompkins C.J., 2005).
As a result of her administrative work, Dr. Tompkins has also been involved in disseminating evidence relative to the importance of technology within social work education. Publications resulting from this work include: Using Image Manipulation Skills to Teach Community Problem-Solving (Davis, M.E.,Tompkins, C.J., Wolf-Branigin, M., 2006); Collaborating,Teaching and Learning in Cyberspace: A Virtual Age Experience (Tompkins, C.J. & Weinreich,D., 2007) and Learning Objects and Gerontology, (Weinreich, D.M., Tompkins,C.J., 2006).
This past year, Dr. Tompkins conducted a classical Glaserian Grounded Theory study developing theoretical models to explain the care giving relationship between grandparents and grandchildren residing within grandparent-headed households for her Hartford Faculty Scholars Program research project.
Lisa R. Joyner
Executive Director of Budget and Administration
Lisa Joyner has worked with the College of Health and Human Services (previously the College of Nursing and Health Science) at George Mason University since 1997. She works closely with the Dean in forecasting, advising, and monitoring the college’s budget. Lisa is responsible for ensuring that the college’s fiscal and personnel activities are performed within the state and university’s guidelines. Prior to coming to George Mason University, she worked in the Vice President’s office of Finance at Norfolk State University.