Homegrown talent: New academic dean took her first college classes at PBSC
Dr. Tunjarnika Coleman-Ferrell, who was first introduced to Palm Beach State College as a student participant in a summer program more than two decades ago, has been named dean of academic affairs at the Boca Raton campus.
She was promoted to the position after serving four years as associate dean for science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and computer science. Prior to that, she served as a department chair for six years, overseeing health sciences, physical education, psychology, developmental education and teacher education.
Coleman-Ferrell joined Palm Beach State as a professor of teacher education in 1998 after working for more than two years as a middle school teacher of business and computer application classes in Broward County. However, her connection to PBSC dates further back. She was a new graduate from Palm Beach Gardens High School when she participated in Fast Break, a summer program at the College that allows students to take courses before starting their freshman year. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Florida Atlantic University. While attending FAU, she sometimes took classes at PBSC and was also employed as a student worker.
“I told them when I come back I will be a professor and an administrator,’’ said Coleman-Ferrell, recalling her tenacity as a young student who also earned a master’s degree in public administration, an educational specialist degree, and a doctorate in education from FAU. “I kept going.”
She said she is excited about the new role. “I just enjoy the opportunity to be able to serve the students, serve our faculty and serve our community,’’ she said. “I want to be a positive role model for our students. I want to make those that mentored me proud, and I want to effect positive policy changes for the betterment of students. We’re here to serve the students.”
Coleman-Ferrell, who also teaches part time in FAU’s Department of Educational Leadership and Research Methodology, has presented at several state, national and international conferences on such topics as technology, professional development for teachers and administrators, and multicultural education. She currently serves on a host of committees at the K-12, college and university levels. In addition, she is the chair of the Administration Commission for the Association of Florida Colleges, representing all administrators at the state level. She has won several awards, including the PBSC Gimelstob Professor of the Year Award in 2005.