James D. Wolfinger, Ph.D.

Dean Wolfinger in front of St. John's University The School of Education

Dr. Wolfinger began his tenure as Dean of The School of Education on June 1, 2022. Prior to coming to St. John’s, he served as Dean of the College of Education at Illinois State University, a position he held since 2019. Prior to joining Illinois State University, Dr. Wolfinger served as the Associate Dean for Curriculum and Programs in the College of Education at DePaul University from 2012 to 2019. From 2009 to 2012, Dr. Wolfinger also served in multiple director roles and was an Associate Chair in the Department of Teacher Education. 

In his role as Dean at Illinois State University, Dr. Wolfinger oversaw the fifth largest college of education in the United States, with more than 3,100 undergraduate and graduate students and 420 faculty, administrators, and staff. He brings a long track record of outstanding leadership skills to The School of Education in many critical areas, including student enrollment, planning and operations, budget management, strategic planning, extramural funding, fund-raising, and community outreach and relationship building—all grounded in a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). As Dean, Dr. Wolfinger hired the first college-level DEI officer in the history of Illinois State University to advance the college’s antiracism initiatives and its commitment to hiring and retaining diverse candidates, and to systematically assess all policies and procedures to ensure the creation of a more inclusive college.

Examples of his many accomplishments at DePaul and Illinois State include establishing support systems for faculty teaching, research, and service by devoting financial resources and time to support innovative faculty programs such as Connecting the DOTS; working with colleagues to build the Teach Chicago Tomorrow program that will bring approximately 500 mostly Black and Latinx students into the teaching profession; assisting faculty and staff in securing approximately $14 million annually in extramural grants; raising annual development funds of $2.8 million or more; and cultivating numerous relationships with community organizations, foundations, legislators, P–12 districts, community colleges, and the state board of education.

Dr. Wolfinger earned his B.S. in Social Science Education from Auburn University, his M.A. in History from the University of Georgia, his Ph.D. in History from Northwestern University, and his teaching certification from the Georgia Department of Education. As a faculty member, he has extensive teaching and scholarly experience, including publishing three books, 21 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and 20 book reviews, in addition to presenting 55 conference papers and giving 28 invited seminars.