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Walden News // Jan 28, 2008

Walden University Names New Associate Deans

Minneapolis—January 28, 2008— Walden University has named four new associate deans to provide leadership for the university’s management, nursing, mental health counseling and education degree programs.

Joining Walden are three accomplished academics: Wanda S. Gravett, PhD, as associate dean of the School of Management; Richard L. Simms, EdD, as associate dean of Undergraduate and Educator Licensure Programs for the College of Education; and Sara Torres, PhD, as associate dean of the School of Nursing. Savitri Dixon-Saxon, PhD, a former Walden faculty chair, has been appointed associate dean, School of Counseling and Social Service.

“We are proud to have these four accomplished, experienced academic leaders at Walden, and we look forward to the insight and vision they will bring to our university,” said Jonathan A. Kaplan, JD, president of Walden University.

Dr. Dixon-Saxon, who is also director for the MS in Mental Health Counseling program at Walden, has been faculty chair of the program since 2005. She is also a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of North Carolina and a National Certified Counselor, and has served on the faculty of North Carolina State University and North Carolina Central University. Her research interests include understanding the psychosocial identity development of African-American women and recognizing and responding to the mental-health needs of African-American mothers in poverty. She earned her PhD in counselor education from North Carolina State University, and an MEd and a BA in journalism and mass communication from the University of South Carolina.

Dr. Gravett brings to Walden’s School of Management an extensive background in both management and higher education. Prior to joining Walden, she served as the director of academic affairs at the University of Phoenix-Western Washington, since 2000. She has also held leadership positions in a number of hospitals, health care organizations, and medical centers before serving as president and CEO of Cynergy Group, Inc. in the Seattle area from 1998–2000. She holds a PhD in community and human resources from the University of Nebraska and earned her Master of Healthcare Administration degree from the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Simms brings nearly 38 years of experience in educational leadership to Walden’s College of Education, where he will help guide the academic programs, faculty development, and the overall student experience for undergraduate and educator licensure programs. He served for 19 years as supervisor of teacher education at the Minnesota Board of Teaching (Minnesota’s autonomous teacher licensing board) and previously worked in post-secondary education at Wayne State University, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Minnesota. He has received many awards for his contributions to education, including the Award for Exemplary Performance from the Minnesota Department of Education, and earned his EdD in teacher education from Wayne State University in Detroit.

Dr. Torres, who will provide leadership for Walden’s School of Nursing, is nationally known for her research on interpersonal violence. She conducted one of the first national comparative studies of Hispanic women’s attitudes toward domestic violence and has received funds from the National Institutes of Health for various research projects. She is the editor of the book Hispanic Voices: Hispanic Health Educators Speak Out, which addresses social and cultural factors impacting Latino health care. Prior to joining Walden, she served as the dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey from 2002–2006 and was associate professor and chair of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Nursing in the School of Nursing at the University of Maryland from 1996–2002. She earned her PhD in mental health/psychiatric nursing from the University of Texas-Austin, and is a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

About Walden University
Since 1970, Walden University has offered working professionals the opportunity to earn advanced degrees through distance learning. Today, this comprehensive, accredited online university offers master’s and doctoral degrees in education, psychology, management, public policy and administration, and health and human services—as well as master’s programs in engineering and IT and a bachelor’s program in business. Walden University is a member of Laureate International Universities, the largest global network of accredited campus-based and online universities. For more information, visit

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association,; 312-263-0456.