Francesca Catalano, Ph.D.

Contact Francesca

Dynamic educator + strategic thinker + proven administrator


Ph.D. | 2001 | Loyola University Chicago

  • Molecular Biology (Microbial Genetics)

J.D. | 2004 | DePaul College of Law
M.T. | 1993 | Loyola University Chicago (A.S.C.P.)
B.S. | 1992 | Loyola University Chicago

Skills & Abilities


  • Dual Credit: I lead an initiative to review our dual credit procedures to streamline the process for partner high schools and confirm compliance with statewide law and HLC accreditation.  Specifically, I developed a handbook for high schools outlining process and expectations, redesigned the applications and ensured all faculty met qualification requirements. I also required yearly observations and in the upcoming year will design a professional development opportunity for instructors. (Kankakee Community College)
  • Diversity: I co-lead an HLC AQIP Action Project designed to increase diversity and inclusion college wide.  Specifically, I completed a review of all coursework to ensure that students completing with an AS or AA enrolled in at least one course that focused on diversity.  We also reviewed all hiring practices to ensure appropriate recruitment of underrepresented groups. Finally, we organized outside speakers, internal trainings and other diversity-based enrichments to highlight inclusion at the college. (Kankakee Community College)
  • ALEKs: Working with math faculty I changed the math placement tool to ALEKs and developed an ALEKs computer lab where students could remediate skills in anticipation of testing or retesting. We are also piloting courses that embrace an emporium teaching model utilizing ALEKs that will accelerate students through developmental math. (Kankakee Community College)
  • Fast Path: Working with the associate dean of humanities and the social sciences I was the initial champion for developing a guided pathway for students ensuring completion of a associates of arts in two years.  My role included investigating the feasibility of a guided pathway and bringing together key stakeholders to move the project forward. (Kankakee Community College)


  • Bridging the Gap Grant: Working with college partners we were awarded a $20,000 grant for AY1718 from the Illinois Community College Board that aimed to ensure college readiness in math and English.  Specifically, my division developed a fourth year technical math pilot with a partner high school that would ensure college readiness upon successful completion. The curriculum focused on contextualized, project based math for students tracking to vocational-technical jobs. 80 students currently are enrolled in this pilot. (Kankakee Community College)
  • Transitional Math: Because of the Bridging the Gap Grant I and members of my team have worked with statewide representatives to provide insights to helping other community colleges in the state develop a technical math fourth year transitional math option.  Additionally, I hosted a Math Summit for our 14 partner high schools to help them understand the expectations of Illinois Power Act and facilitate the development of three different fourth year high school transitional math options. (Kankakee Community College).  In an effort to increase student success and completion rates we have also streamlined the developmental math pathway.
  • College and Career Readiness Committee: I chair a steering committee comprised of administrators from our 14 area feeder high schools, representatives from leading community employers, and other key college stakeholders that discuss strategies to increase college and career readiness of graduating high school seniors.  I coordinate the activities of subcommittees lead by college faculty in science, math and English who meet with high schools teachers to help bridge students to college and provide other mentorship and support. (Kankakee Community College)
  • Computer Science: Currently I am developing a competency based plan of study resulting in an A.S. in computer science. (Kankakee Community College)
  • Course Development: I worked with Industry Advisory Councils and program directors in science and space studies to develop new curriculum and assure fluency with current trends. I trained faculty to develop online curriculum following best practices and developed an introduction to biology course that resulted in a marked increase in student retention and success relative to prior versions of the course. (American Public University System)
  • Faculty Development: I hired, trained, coached and mentored faculty across multiple disciplines (including science, environmental science, math, space studies and information technology).  Additionally, I provided faculty with best practices in online pedagogy and andragogy using cutting edge technologies in the e-classroom, including educational technology, adaptive learning. Social Media and collaborative teaching (American Public University System)

Service and Outreach

  • Food Pantry: After recognizing that students on our campus had food insecurities I lead an initiative, with the support of  the college Foundation and senior leadership, that resulted in a campus Food Pantry opening in February of 2018. I coordinate the volunteers, record metrics (inventory and donations), solicit donations, and run all other miscellaneous operations.  The Food Pantry has garnered significant public support and was awarded a 2018 Innovation Award for Social Services by the Kankakee Daily Journal Newspaper (Kankakee Community College).
  • AQIP Peer Reviewer: I review applications for reaccreditation and offer consultative information for member institutions. (Higher Learning Commission)
  • wSTEM: Five years ago I created a group designed to encourage outreach to K-12 female students interested in STEM, to support university-level students studying STEM topics, and mentor female faculty in STEM fields.  (American Public University System) This work has been supported by a robust social media presence that I have continued and expanded to this day.
  • Middle School Science Teacher Professional Development: I have also designed and directed an in-service day of Professional Development for Middle School STEM Teachers of Jefferson County, WV in August 2014.  Identified, developed and mapped inquiry based learning exercises based on the state science teaching standards: (WikiSpaces has shut down as of July, 2018)

Recent Presentations (past two years only)

  • Student Retention in Foundation Courses: Lessons from KCC.  Illinois Council of Community College Administrators. November, 2017.
  • Transitional Math at KCC. Forum for Excellence, Illinois State University, September, 2017.
  • Online Science, Technology, and Engineering Laboratories: Opportunities and Challenges.  League of Innovations STEMTech Conference.  November, 2016.
  • An Interactive Approach to Developing Faculty: The Teaching Circle. League of Innovations STEMTech Conference.  November, 2016.
  • Encouraging, Supporting and Sustaining Women in STEM: the wSTEM Group. League of Innovations STEMTech Conference.  November, 2016.
  • Using Elements of Connectivism to Maximize Outcomes. Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning.  August, 2016.



Associate Dean of Math, Science and Engineering | Kankakee Community College | August 2016  - Present
  • Provide leadership to the Math, Science and Engineering Division, where I currently manage 25 full time faculty and staff and 15 part time faculty.  I also provide budgetary support and oversight to the Math/Science/Economic Tutoring Center, which employs an additional 15 tutors part time.
  • Committee Work and Appointments
    • College Chemical Hygiene Officer
    • College and Career Readiness Committee (Chair)
    • Embracing Diversity Committee (Co-chair)
    • Food Pantry Steering Committee (Chair)
    • Gay Straight Alliance (Faculty/Staff Coordinator)
    • Food Pantry Student Group (Faculty/Staff Coordinator)
    • Search Committee, Economics/Statistic Tenure Track Faculty (Chair)
    • Search Committee, Physics/Physical Science Faculty (Chair)
    • Curriculum and Academic Standards Committee
    • Strategic Planning and Oversite Committee
    • Developmental Education
    • Scholarship Review Committee
    • Chemical Hygiene and Safety Committee
Director of Faculty | American Public University system | December 2007 – August 2016
  • Multiple positions held during my tenure; including full time faculty member (professor), Biological Sciences Program Director, and Director of Faculty
  • Developed and managed curriculum for a suite of courses in the biological sciences.
  • Direct supervisor of at times >200 faculty: hiring, training, coaching, mentoring and day-to-day management
  • Developed school-wide processes and procedures for onboarding and training of new faculty, including an orientation process with a New Faculty Manual
  • Generated school-wide procedures to ensure proper and timely set up of online courses
  • Initiated and managed the university Brown Bag Series: a monthly colloquium series designed to develop community and share faculty research, technology use and issues within teaching and learning
  • Study Group Leader for multiple sections of the Center for Teaching and Learning Community of Inquiry Faculty Training Cohort.  Taught several other courses for faculty for professional development on online pedagogy and course development.
  • Institutional Review Board Member
  • Recipient of the university Above and Beyond Award in 2012 and 2013.
Previous short term appointments (part time or temporary teaching appointments)
  • Excelsior College, Albany, NY, June 2013 – current (remote position)
  • Ivy Tech Community College, Richmond, IN, August 2010 – 2017 (remote position)
  • Spalding University, Louisville, KY, June 2009 – July 2011 (left position due to relocation)
  • Ottawa University, Jeffersonville, IN, August 2010 – July 2011 (left position due to relocation)
  • Green Mountain College, Castleton, VT, August 2008 – July 2009 (left position due to relocation)
  • Community College of Vermont, Montpelier, Rutland and Bennington campuses August 2006 – July 2009 (left position due to relocation)
  • St. Joseph College, Rutland, VT, August 2007 – May 2009 (left position due to relocation)
  • Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL, August 2005 – May 2006 (one year visiting assistant professor appointment)
  • Heartland Community College, Bloomington, IL, August 2005 – May 2006 (left position due to relocation).
  • Illinois Central College, Peoria, IL, August 2005 – May 2006 (left position due to relocation).
  • Lewis University, Romeoville, IL August 2004 – May 2005 (one year visiting assistant professor appointment)
  • Harold Washington Community College, Chicago, IL, January 2004 – May 2004 (left position due to relocation)
  • Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago, IL, June 2002 – May 2006 (left position due to relocation)
  • Northwestern University, Evanston, IL June 2001 (summer appointment)