Prof Shirley Sommers is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning at the University of Mpumalanga.
Prof Sommers holds a BA in Geology from Earlham College, Indiana, an M Ed degree in Curriculum and Instruction Design from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, and a PhD in Theoretical and Social Foundations of Education with a minor in Higher Education Administration in from the University of Toledo in Toledo Ohio, USA. Prof Sommers joined UMP after having had over 20 years in academia rising through the ranks from Assistant Professor to a tenured full Professor. She also held several leadership positions including being the Director for the Centre for Service-Learning and pioneering positions such as being the founding director of the Centre for Urban Education, at Nazareth College, USA, which built capacity for preservice and in-service teachers to educate students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds using culturally responsive and social justice education methodologies. She was also the founding Director of the Institute for Pluralism (currently called Office of Diversity and Inclusion) at the same institution, which attended to the development of an equitable and inclusive campus in terms of race, gender, gender identity, social class, and sexuality. In South Africa worked as an Associate Director in Staff Development at the Durban University of Technology and Coordinator of the Leadership and Equity Advancement Programme as the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
She has published numerous articles and book chapters; and has authored and co-authored three books on social justice education and experiences of African immigrant students and educators in the U.S. She serves on various higher education bodies including the American Educational Research Association where she serves as Program Chair for the Service-Learning and Experiential Education SIG. She is a long-time member of the Editorial Board for the journal Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity.