SNU is blessed to have a strong academic community of professors and capable faculty leaders. After having served as the Provost and Chief Academic Officer (CAO) for four years, Dr. Eades stepped down at the conclusion of the Spring 2023 semester to return East to be in closer proximity to family. President Newman, towards the end of the spring semester, selected Dr. Mark Winslow to serve as Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer to lead the academic segment of the institution. Dr. Winslow has been at SNU since 2004 as a physics professor, Dean of Sciences, and most recently as the VP of Academic Affairs (VPAA) for Professional and Graduate Studies.
For more than three years now, SNU has been organized into two colleges: the College of Undergraduate Studies (traditional academic programs) and the College of Professional and Graduate Studies (evening degree completion programs and graduate programs). While similar in academic processes, the two colleges serve different student demographics. Much of the programming in these colleges is suited to their unique profiles by modality and program design. While the overall academic direction can be provided by a CAO, additional leadership is required to effectively lead the two colleges to enable faculty to flourish in their teaching roles and to provide outstanding educational opportunities for all students.
With the 2023-2024 school year officially underway in July, Dr. Winslow reconstituted the Academic Leadership Team. Dr. Dennis Williams serves as the VPAA for the College of Undergraduate Studies and leads more than 45 faculty in the traditional academic programs. Dr. Williams has been at SNU since 1994 and has served as a history professor, dean, and VP for Strategy and Innovation. Dr. Melissa Lewis is the VPAA for the College of Professional Graduate Studies and works with 25 faculty and program directors. Dr. Lewis has been at SNU since 1999 and has served as a music professor, Professional Studies Gen. Ed. Director, and most recently as the Associate VPAA for the College of Professional and Graduate Studies. Dr. Steve Betts is the VP for Academic Operational Excellence and leads pan-institutional efforts such as accreditation, the Library, the VETS Centers, etc. Dr. Betts has been at SNU for more than 18 years in teaching music, serving as Dean, and working as the VPAA for Undergraduate Studies for the last three years.
These four leaders collectively have 90 years of experience at SNU and 36 years in combined academic leadership. The new Academic Leadership Team represents change for SNU. Their leadership gifts combine to include strategy and innovation, program planning and effective project management, collaboration and communication, and, most of all, a strong desire to accomplish the University’s mission to make Christlike disciples through Christian higher education. The work of an academic leader is to empower faculty to become their very best in serving as teachers and mentors to students. As such, each of these academic leaders works in the background and is not typically seen by students each and every day. However, they all are teaching one or two courses during the year to connect with students and remain fluent in the teaching profession.
Many higher education institutions today are facing challenges and SNU is not immune to the difficulties. The goal for the Academic Leadership Team is to be innovative and relevant in our academic programming, to improve what we are already doing well, and be responsive to meeting student needs. Dr. Winslow affirms, “Good academic leadership working with great faculty and staff makes all the difference in creating a flourishing academic community for our students at SNU.” Even if the academic leader’s most proximal work is with faculty–at the end of the day, it’s always about serving students and creating the best academic experience we can provide for them. “What an honor it is for us leaders to be involved in this academic work at SNU,” Dr. Winslow notes, “and we love the faculty and staff we get to work with and the students we are privileged to serve.”
Photo by Dr. Mark Winslow