Meet Micheal Sayler, Dean of the EMU College of Education

By Linda Hass | Published March 8, 2016

He's taught dozens of students in a two-room country school house, guided thousands of gifted students in summer programs, and taught undergraduate, graduate and doctoral classes. He's also developed online courses, master's programs, and authored books on educational psychology. Oh . . . and he's driven a school bus.

Meet Micheal Sayler, the new dean of Eastern Michigan University's College of Education. Sayler, a former senior associate dean of the College of Education at the University of North Texas, is a man of many talents and varied experiences, but what he most wants the EMU community to know is that he's a "people person" with an open door.

"I intend to visit personally with all of my faculty and staff, to meet regularly with departments and students, and to uphold transparency, consistency and fairness. My door is always open," says Sayler, who was appointed to the dean's position in June. His selection followed a national search that brought four finalists to campus for interviews and public forums.

"The College of Education has an excellent national reputation and outstanding faculty who bring great expertise and concern for their students into the classroom every day," says Sayler.

"I look forward to working with the faculty and students to prepare educators who will serve families, schools and communities. I also look forward to continuing the wonderful legacy of one of the finest colleges of education in the nation," adds Sayler, who holds a faculty appointment as a professor within the department of teacher Education.

Big picture vision

The hard-working, team-building dean with a big smile has a big picture vision of where the COE is headed. On the undergraduate level, Sayler intends to further courses and programs that combine sound theory with training in practical knowledge and skills so that students can enter their careers with confidence and experience in dealing with a wide variety of classrooms and communities.

On the graduate level, he intends to further courses and programs that enable students to acquire skills in planning, innovation, research, diagnosis, design, and leadership, and to empower students to understand and incorporate good research into their practice, he says.

Sayler is uniquely qualified to implement those visions with a genuine warmth for Eastern and a commitment to the important role that the College of Education has played since the university was founded as a school for educators in 1849, say administrators.

That warmth of spirit may come in handy for the former Texan during a typical Michigan winter. But Sayler says he is enjoying his return to "seasons that change" because he grew up in the Dakotas. "Texas was often too hot when you wanted to go outside. Here, my wife and I take mile-long walks each day. We love it—even in cool temperatures," he says.

The dean's roots

Sayler also brings a green thumb with him to the Great Lakes State. "I love to garden. Many of my relatives were farmers and I suppose this desire to grow things comes naturally," he says, adding that this summer and fall he started an organic fruit and vegetable garden. "I hope to plant fruit and nut trees this spring," he says, adding that he enjoys giving away the fruit of his labors.

Sayler, a native of South Dakota, earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from St. John's University in Collegeville, MN, and master's and doctoral degrees in educational psychology from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.

Before becoming associate dean at the University of North Texas in 2002, he served as associate and assistant professor there for 12 years. Sayler's research interests include educational psychology and gifted students and their emotional needs and wellbeing. He developed a theory of life-span development of high ability individuals he calls the new GT—giftedness and thriving.

He and his wife, Stephanie, have five grown children and three grandchildren. "Stephanie and I live out of town a few miles on three acres. We have come to love all the parks, hiking trails, the lakes, and the seasons," he says. "We're really glad to be here."