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Dr. Leah Simpson keeps KCTCS students online and on track for success

Leah Simpson PictureDr. Leah Simpson (16) didn’t always envision her career would center around educational technology, but that didn’t mean she didn’t realize its potential early on in her career. 

“I started teaching in 1998 and it was a luxury to have even one computer in my classroom that was available for student use,” she said. “I would say, however, that I was always one of the first of my peers to incorporate new technologies in my classes. Much of the time, failed to get it just right, but after several attempts, I got better at designing activities and assessments that were enhanced by technology rather than dominated by it.” 

Considering Simpson currently serves as executive director for online learning at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), she has come a long way from that single shared computer in her first years of teaching. The road to her role was possible thanks to making the decision to continue her education at Morehead State University. 

After earning a bachelor’s degree in English from Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) in 1998 and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kentucky in 2004, Simpson taught high school students before changing course to spend the majority of her career working in higher education. She served as associate dean of ITT Technical Institute from 2008 to 2009 before returning to her second college alma mater, serving as an assessment specialist and later director of assessment and curriculum development for the UK College of Pharmacy between 2009 and 2018. During that time, she increasingly realized that she wanted to pursue a doctorate in education, both to advance in her career and because she said she “found her ‘why.’” 

“While working at the Office of Assessment at the University of Kentucky, I noticed there was a disconnect in the way our office offered training and development and the desire to participate. We offered a lot of hand-on workshops to faculty, but the hours didn’t always work for our audience. So, I started to seek ways to teach around their schedules. Online learning and small trainings through video and job aids were the answer,” she said. “Online programs are what make it possible for students like me to continue their education and achieve their dreams. I wanted to be a part of something that is so vital and necessary for so many students in our country.” 

In order to make positive change in the realm of online education, she wanted to find an online program to earn her doctorate and found it at MSU. She said the reason she was able to earn an Ed.D. in Educational Technology and Leadership from MSU in 2016 was because it was a program designed for graduate students, it fit her lifestyle, and had faculty and leadership who gave her the freedom to choose her own path. She said her passion for advancing online education and serving KCTCS has been made possible thanks to her education at MSU. 

“Working in higher education makes having ‘Dr.’ in front of my name very important. Working in higher education also makes me very aware of how many doctoral programs are designed without student success as a primary focus,” Simpson said. “I know that having this degree opened more doors for me than would have been possible without it. So being part of a program that was intentionally designed with my success in mind was a major component to achieving my career goals.” 

To learn more about the Doctor of Education (Ed.D) program visit, or contact Dr. Lee Nabb at or 606-783-2168. 

For more information about MSU’s Volgenau College of Education and its programs, call 606-783-2162 or visit