New vice provosts strengthen the academic voice

Illustration of people filling a globe with talk bubbles.
Illustration by Mike Austin.

In early 2018, interim president Dr. Ward Ulmer ’04 unveiled a new academic leadership structure designed to help Walden continue to deliver student-centered, quality programs in a changing world. This restructured team replaced the chief learning officer role with three new vice provosts, Dr. Savitri Dixon-Saxon, Dr. Andrea Lindell, and Dr. Marilyn Powell. The vice provosts serve as members of the president’s cabinet and are responsible for academics, policy, and governance on a university-wide basis, as well as the operations and administration of their respective colleges. In the previous academic leadership structure, there were 10 deans, each with his or her own focus, all working to get their concerns and points of view heard at the leadership level.

Here, the vice provosts share their thoughts on how their new roles will streamline administration, enhance collaboration, and benefit faculty, staff, and students.

DR. SAVITRI DIXON-SAXON
COLLEGE OF SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES

HIGHER EDUCATION EXPERIENCE: 27 years, 13 at Walden

PREVIOUS ROLES AT WALDEN: Dean of the School of Counseling and dean of the Barbara Solomon School of Social Work and Human Services

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Led the creation of two schools and 11 academic programs. Provided oversight of accreditation for five counseling programs. Served as founding chairperson of Diversity and Inclusion Working Group. Named a “Woman Worth Watching” by The Diversity Journal.

RALLYING THE TEAM TOWARD OUR VISION: To understand how Dr. Savitri Dixon-Saxon views her new role, you need to know the story of the little red hen. In the original story, none of the other animals help the hen gather the ingredients or make the bread, so she decides they’re lazy and should get no bread. “The reason they didn’t help is because no one told them why or how what they were doing contributed to the goal,” she says. “Sharing that information, showing every member of our team how they’re integral to our success, and rallying them to bring our vision to fruition is the better approach. It’s a collaborative process, rather than something I’m undertaking in a vacuum. With this new structure, our university leadership has decided to make how we educate our students the top priority so we can make sure we’re providing the education employers are calling for and creating an engaging student experience that responds to their needs. We’re also working with research coordinators, directors of assessment, and directors of licensure and compliance. They observe things from a different perspective, so it’s valuable to integrate them into the strategy.”

DR. ANDREA LINDELL
COLLEGE OF HEALTH SCIENCES

HIGHER EDUCATION EXPERIENCE: 30+ years, 6 at Walden

PREVIOUS ROLES AT WALDEN: Program director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program and associate dean and dean of the School of Nursing

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Led the establishment of two doctoral programs and four new graduate specialties. Oversaw the initial accreditation of the DNP program. Recipient of numerous awards, including the Outstanding Leadership in Nursing Award and the National Armiger Award for Outstanding Leadership in Nursing Education.

OPEN COMMUNICATIONS: For Dr. Andrea Lindell, one of the most important aspects of her new role is the opportunity to serve as an open path for communication. “The vice provosts increase access for faculty, staff, and students to the highest levels of leadership,” she says. “We can provide access across the organization to the faculty, students, and staff whose ideas and energetic voices help shape who we are now and who we will be in the future, ensuring that academics are at the forefront of the university’s decisions. As vice provost, I have the opportunity to model the university’s values, lead actions for our social change goals, and promote the richness and quality of the academic programs both externally and internally.”

DR. MARILYN J. POWELL
RICHARD W. RILEY COLLEGE OF EDUCATION AND LEADERSHIP
COLLEGE OF MANAGEMENT AND TECHNOLOGY
ACADEMIC RESIDENCIES

HIGHER EDUCATION EXPERIENCE: 15 years, 10 at Walden

PREVIOUS ROLES AT WALDEN: Program director of PhD in Counseling Psychology and associate dean and dean of the School of Psychology

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Served as a program chair at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels. Served as a vice president of academic affairs for business, education, psychology, and counseling programs. Served as president of Argosy University, Dallas campus.

CHAMPIONING THE FACULTY VOICE: As a psychologist and systems specialist, Dr. Marilyn Powell likes to fix things. “I started my career in psychology, working with big systems in homelessness solutions, correctional institutions, hospitals, and government,” she says. “My goal was always to make things better for the clients and communities I served, and I look at my role as vice provost in the same way. I want to create an environment where our students, faculty, and staff can thrive and meet their goals. We now have a stronger, more concentrated voice that reaches the president and provost. In the old structure, there wasn’t a lot of direct line faculty representation at the level of the president. Now, we can bring forward opinions in a condensed, prioritized way and get them the attention they deserve. We champion the academic voice and work with the deans to accomplish their goals faster by removing barriers and getting them the resources they need to serve students.”

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