SOE News

John Plummer, new assistant dean for administration and finance

Photo of John Plummer

John Plummer

Bringing extensive experience in business, planning, administration and higher education, John Plummer has joined the School of Education as assistant dean for administration and finance.

His previous positions include serving as dean of administrative affairs at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law and director of administrative services at Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law in Macon, Ga. He also served as business and facilities manager for the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech at their joint Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church, Va. 

In these roles, he took a “people-first” approach, providing leadership and working for consensus to achieve organizational goals and budget savings in diverse and politically sensitive environments.

“Wherever John Plummer has worked, he has earned a sterling reputation as an administrator and colleague,” said School of Education Dean Bill McDiarmid. “We are fortunate to have him in our community.”

Prior to his career in higher education, Plummer served with the U.S. Air Force as director of flight operations, managing 21 crews and 15 aircraft at multiple locations throughout Europe and Africa. In this capacity, he created and implemented a plan to return crews to the United States to spend the winter holidays with their families, an organizational first.

Later, he served as chief of base realignment program development for the U.S. Air Force. He prepared decision briefs for the Secretary of the Air Force and members of Congress that led to reduction of the infrastructure and restructuring of the Air Force for the 21st century. 

He subsequently became a U.S. diplomat. Serving as a defense and air attaché in Algiers, he effectively expanded the United States’ influence in Algeria. 

Plummer holds two graduate degrees—a J.D. and an M.B.A., both from the University of Kansas. He earned his undergraduate degree cum laude with a major in history from Kansas Wesleyan University.

Coming to North Carolina and to the UNC School of Education held a special appeal for Plummer. While in the Air Force, he was stationed at Pope Air Force Base for a few years. “My family lived in Sanford at that time and had such a good experience there,” said Plummer. “Looking back on it, we felt that we would love to return to North Carolina some time to live and work.”

When a professional opportunity opened up at the UNC School of Education, Plummer was immediately interested. “I’ve always considered Carolina one of the foremost universities in the country,” he said. “This is a university where I thought I would really like to work.”

The School of Education was of particular interest to Plummer. “I know that this School of Education is highly regarded,” he said. Moreover, education is prominent within Plummer’s family. His wife was a teacher, one of his daughters is a teacher and his own undergraduate studies focused on history and secondary education.

As assistant dean, Plummer will be an integral part of the dean’s leadership team and will oversee the work of the seven staff members in the Office of Administration and Finance. His highest priority, Plummer said, is to help work through the budget issues and other challenges facing the School. “With a new dean at the School of Education, this is an opportunity to get in on the ground floor as his team is being formulated,” he said. “I look forward to bringing my ideas and experience to our work together.”

Plummer noted that his emphasis on “people first” will remain at the forefront of his work. “I believe that people are the core of any organization,” he said. “I want to insure that the people here have the tools they need in order to perform their jobs properly and to make this workplace as good as it can be.”

Plummer expects that he and his staff will play a significant role in moving the School of Education forward. “I’m learning about other departments and areas of responsibility within the School and how we relate to one another,” he said. “As head of the Office of Administration and Finance, this really is my goal: to make our office as supportive as possible of the dean, faculty, students and staff.”