FAMU Appoints Smith and Wesson as New Deans

July 03, 2024
Shannon B. Smith will lead the School of Nursing, while G. Dale Wesson was promoted from interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences.
Shannon B. Smith will lead the School of Nursing, while G. Dale Wesson was promoted from interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences.

Florida A&M University (FAMU) has announced the appointment of two distinguished and visionary academic leaders poised to significantly impact the university’s quest toward becoming a Carnegie Research 1 institution. Shannon B. Smith, DNP, Ph.D., will serve as dean of the School of Nursing, while G. Dale Wesson, Ph.D., will serve as dean of the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences, effective July 1.

“Dr. Smith and Dr. Wesson both possess extensive experience in Carnegie R1 institutions., said Provost Allyson L. Watson, Ph.D., vice president for Academic Affairs. “Their expertise will be instrumental in enhancing our academic profile and leading their respective units to new heights.”

Watson made the announcement during a virtual meeting with faculty and administrators, where she also thanked Lisa Gardner, DNP, for serving as interim dean of nursing since last year. During Gardner’s tenure, the nursing school’s licensure passage rate rose to 96.55 percent, exceeding the national average of 86 percent for first-time exam takers and ending a two-year probation by the Florida Board of Nursing.


Shannon B. Smith, DNP, Ph.D. 

Shannon B. Smith, DNP, Ph.D. 

Smith joins FAMU from Claflin University, where she has been the associate dean of Nursing since 2016. She led Claflin Nursing to national prominence, achieving accreditation in 2018, and launching a master’s degree program in nursing in 2021. Under her leadership, the program also received the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Diversity, Inclusion, and Sustainability in Nursing Education Lectureship Award in 2022.

Smith’s vision is to secure the future of nursing by graduating professional nurses who are prepared to serve diverse patient populations. Her achievements in nursing education are underscored by consistent retention and graduation rates above 90 percent and her leadership in developing new programs and curricula.

“My colleagues at FAMU have made great strides in academic nursing, and I am excited to build on their excellent work,” said Smith. “As dean, my key priorities include further enhancing student performance on board exams, integrating innovative approaches into the curriculum, increasing nursing research activities, and strengthening community partnerships to ensure our graduates are well prepared to meet the evolving demands of healthcare.”

Smith holds a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) in organizational leadership and a doctorate in nursing science (Ph.D.) from the University of South Carolina. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the Medical University of South Carolina.

“Dr. Shannon B. Smith has been an award-winning and founding dean. She established a successful nursing program, elevating it to national prominence through her exceptional leadership. Her efforts have secured specialized funding to advance nursing education and foster academic innovation. Dr. Smith brings extensive knowledge and a remarkable background in nursing education to this role,” Watson said.

A native of Ritter, S.C., Smith is board certified as an adult health clinical nurse specialist by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and is a certified nurse educator by the National League for Nursing. In 2023, Smith received the 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award from the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities and the 2024 Exemplary Teacher of the Year Award from the United Methodist Church.



G. Dale Wesson, Ph.D.,PE, new CAFS Dean (Credit:CAFS)

G. Dale Wesson, Ph.D., P.E.
(Credit: CAFS)

Prior to his appointment, Wesson was serving as interim CAFS dean, associate vice president of research, and director of Land Grant Programs at FAMU. He brings more than 25 years of higher education experience to his new role.

“It is a profound honor and responsibility being appointed as the new dean,” said Wesson. “I aim to enhance our academic programs, encourage interdisciplinary research, and strengthen our community partnerships to ensure our institution remains at the forefront of education and societal impact.”

Previously, Wesson served as vice president for research and economic development at Virginia State University, managing a research portfolio exceeding $25 million in annual expenditures. His other roles include vice president for research positions at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and South Carolina State University, and provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Clark Atlanta University.  

“Dr. Dale Wesson has held numerous influential academic and research leadership positions. His dynamic approach and innovative mindset will significantly enhance our agriculture and food science programs. With a background in chemical engineering and a vision for the future, he is well-equipped to propel the college forward,” said Watson.

Wesson is from St. Louis, Illinois. He is a registered professional engineer with 10 years of industrial experience with Dow Chemical, USA. He has a bachelor’s degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology, a master’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a doctorate from Michigan State University, all in chemical engineering.