Gerard Lawson, Ph.D., professor in the Counselor Education Program, has been named interim director of the Virginia Tech School of Education, effective August 1.

Lawson’s leadership experience is considerable.  In addition to being the past program leader of School’s Counselor Education program, he is the past president of two national organizations, the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), and one state-level organization, the Virginia Counselors Association. He currently serves as chair of the Virginia Board of Counseling and on the Executive Committee of the American Association of State Counseling Boards.

Lawson reflected, “The School of Education has been on a steady trajectory of growth under Dr. Gehsmann’s leadership, which has helped to highlight the quality of the students who study here and the faculty and staff that support them. It is a real honor to be able to serve the School of Education in this role, and to help contribute to our shared mission.”   

Since joining the faculty at Virginia Tech in 2002, Lawson has published his research in prestigious journals including the Journal of Counseling and Development, The Professional Counselor, Counselor Education and Supervision, and The Clinical Supervisor. He has presented at national and international conferences on a range of topics including counselor wellness, crisis response and resilience, and clinical supervision. He was the principal investigator of a National Institute of Justice-funded project exploring the “School to Prison Pipeline,” and continues to serve the Commonwealth of Virginia by leading the team that administers the School Climate and Working Conditions Survey each year.

Lawson was awarded the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Land-Grant Scholar Award in 2017, and he is among the inaugural recipients of the ACES Legacy Awards. In 2021 he received the ACA Outstanding Research Award. He is an American Counseling Association fellow, one of the highest professional recognitions in the counseling profession.

Lawson replaces Kristin M. Gehsmann, Ed.D., who served as the School of Education's director between 2020-2023.  Gehsmann is credited with leading the school through the challenges of the pandemic, expanding the School’s curricular offerings to include undergraduate education programs, and advancing inclusive excellence throughout the School and beyond. Under Gehsmann’s leadership, the School’s US News and Word Reports ranking increased 42 places to #83 in country.  She begins her new position as Dean of the College of Education at Clemson University in September. A national search for a new director for the School will commence in the fall of 2024.

Dean Laura Belmonte commented on the appointment, “Gerard Lawson is a thoughtful and effective leader who is a terrific successor to Kristin Gehsmann.  Together with his leadership team, faculty, and staff, I am confident that we will intensify the positive momentum in the School and continue to underscore Virginia Tech’s vital contributions to education at the national, state, and local levels.”