New faculty dean Dr. Abiodun Goke-Pariola has vision for building on success

Sep 28, 2015

Talking with North Central College’s new vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, Dr. Abiodun “G-P” Goke-Pariola, there are a few words you won’t hear—like “status quo.” He pursued the position as leader of academic affairs knowing that his challenge will be to elevate the reputation of the faculty and academic programs, which in quality far exceeds similar and better-known institutions. It’s a goal that excites him.

“North Central’s faculty talent pool is exceptional for a school of this size, better than schools with a higher profile than us,” he says. “And faculty development is key for me, helping faculty stay up-to-date in teaching and learning. I was familiar with North Central’s reputation, and this position was a good fit with my professional experiences and passions.”

One of the opportunities ahead lies in leveraging technology more for teaching and learning. The advantages are many. “Deployed appropriately,” Goke-Pariola says, “technology can give us additional tools to do what we do best as a small college—working closely with and mentoring our students. Technology can also enable us to significantly expand the footprint of our graduate programs because we can extend our reach beyond the people who are close enough to come on campus on a weekly basis.”  

For example, North Central alumni could take a class online if they can’t get to campus. “And our undergraduates, who are home during the summer, might like to take a class from their favorite professor at their favorite college, instead of at their community college.” Adult students who are trying to complete a degree need flexibility in their schedules—and delivery platforms. “We have a strong academic brand that’s worth extending beyond the walls of North Central,” he adds.

Goke-Pariola foresees building upon North Central’s strengths to boost the academic profile of the College, by strategically deepening and strengthening several programs and adding new ones, while finding ways to expand the national visibility of “the great work that faculty do.”

Most recently, Goke-Pariola was provost and vice president for academic affairs at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. The Nigerian native completed his undergraduate degree in English and his M.Phil./Ph.D. coursework at the University of Ife—now Obafemi Awolowo University—in Nigeria. He earned a doctor of arts in English language and literature from the University of Michigan in 1982.

On a personal note, Goke-Pariola and his wife Jennie Smith-Pariola and daughters Segi and Semi are enjoying Naperville’s abundance of parks and vibrant downtown. “I also love to read and I enjoy long, contemplative walks, maybe 4 to 6 miles a day,” he says. Another pastime involves learning to play the mountain dulcimer, a passion that reflects his wife’s roots in east Tennessee and their love of bluegrass music.

Like his predecessor, R. Devadoss Pandian, Goke-Pariola will continue to hire faculty who are committed to mentoring students and who embrace all students, regardless of where they are on their academic journey. “And that means we must walk the walk with the students and support them even as they struggle.

“It’s like loving all your children even though they may not be all equally gifted. It’s our role to help them find their passion in life and to both support and challenge them as they embark on what we hope will be fulfilling lives.”