CHHS Leadership

Tom Prohaska

Thomas Prohaska, PhD
Dean, College of Health and Human Services

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 100 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.

Frank Whittington

Frank Whittington, PhD
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 long-term care of older persons, especially African Americans. 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. His most recent work includes a volume co-edited with 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 and the GRITS (“Gerontologists Rooted in the South”) Hall of Fame recognition in 2015. 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.

Christine Coussens

Christine Coussens, PhD
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 PhD 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. 

Keith Howell

Keith Howell, PhD
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.  

Carol Urban

Carol Urban, PhD, RN
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. 

Whitney Gaston

Whitney Gaston
Interim Director of the Office of Student Affairs and Assistant Dean of the College of Health and Human Services

Whitney Gaston serves as the Interim Director of the Office of Student Affairs and Assistant Dean of the College of Health and Human Services. She has worked in higher education for almost 20 years and her professional experiences include admissions, advising, marketing, recruitment, alumni relations and program planning.  Prior to coming to Mason, Whitney worked for the University of South Florida – Polytechnic Campus as the Director of University Relations.  Her career background also includes working in the community college system in Florida.  Whitney thoroughly enjoys working with students, as well as streamlining processes to better serve her constituents and institution.  

Cathy Tompkins

Catherine Tompkins, MSW, PhD
Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies

Dr. Tompkins, Associate 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. Dr. Tompkins was inducted as a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America in 2015.

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 Joyner

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.