Dr. Tynisha D. Willingham began serving as provost at EMU on July 3, 2023. Dr. Willingham formerly served as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer at Mary Baldwin University. She is a first generation college graduate from Penn State University earning a B.S. in Spanish and African American Studies. Dr. Willingham holds an M.Ed. in elementary education from University of Texas-Pan American and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from Penn State University.
Dr. Willingham has more than 20 years of experience in academia. As an academic administrator she has provided leadership for a SACSCOC Quality Enhancement Plan impact report, as well as a 5-year interim report. As an innovative leader, Dr. Willingham uses a data-informed approach to increase student success and to support strategic directions and key university goals.
Dr. Willingham is an interdisciplinary scholar with a focus on literacy. Drawing from the fields of literacy leadership and reader response theory, her research focuses on working with the community to create change in classrooms in order to benefit students’ literacy development. Additionally, she explores the intersection of literacy practices in the classroom and teacher development. Dr. Willingham’s research agenda is informed by her experiences as a teacher in urban and rural contexts, serving Black and Brown students. She is the co-author of four books: The literacy leadership guide for elementary principals: Reclaiming teacher autonomy and joy; Service-learning initiatives in teacher education programs: Expanding elementary teacher education through service-learning: A handbook on extending literacy field experience for 21st century urban teacher preparation; and Publishing and productivity: Writing processes for new scholars and researchers. She is also the author of several articles and presentations.
Dr. Willingham has engaged in many opportunities to develop and refine her leadership skills, including participation in the following programs: the Women of Color Leadership Project (NWSA); the HERS Bryn Mawr Summer Institute; the Center For Exceptional Leadership Emerging Leadership Cohort; and the ACE Virginia Women's Network Senior Leadership Seminar Program. As an engaged community member she is a board member for the American Shakespeare Center, Black Girl Gold, Inc., and is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Dr. Willingham is the mother of three children - Nevaeh, Neenah and Zenith.
The provost gives overall guidance to the undergraduate and graduate academic programs of the university as well as Eastern Mennonite Seminary, EMU Lancaster, and various auxiliary programs.