Movers and Shakers

New leadership positions announced at University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business; the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN); DeVry University; and Spelman College.

Amid expanding its artificial intelligence and machine learning curricula — including for its recently STEM-designated MBA programs, the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business has hired Balaji Padmanabhan as a full professor of information systems. 

Padmanabhan, with a PhD from New York University’s Stern School of Business, brings expertise in AI, machine learning and business analytics from 25 years of research, teaching and working extensively with businesses. He was among the earliest business school faculty members to bring machine learning content into MBA programs and designed one of the first technology-focused electives (“Enabling Technologies”) for an MBA program while at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

Padmanabhan has researched and designed analytics-driven algorithms for solving business problems in publishing 60-plus papers in premier journals and conferences in the field. He also serves on several of those editorial boards and has applied his findings and broader insight in various machine learning and analytics initiatives for several companies. He arrives at Smith from the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business where he directed the Center for Analytics and Creativity.

Rasmussen University’s Dr. Brooks Doherty, vice president of Academic Excellence and Innovation, has been named board chair of the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN). Rasmussen is a founding institution member of C-BEN—the nation’s largest advocacy group for competency-based learning—and Dr. Doherty has served on the Board of Directors since 2018, previously as vice chair. As board chair, he will help guide the organization’s financial and strategic growth plans.

Dr. Doherty is a longtime advocate for competency-based learning in higher education and helped lead Rasmussen’s efforts to establish its first CBE program in Fall 2016. Today, Rasmussen offers 20 CBE programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels across eight areas of study, including nursing, health sciences, business and technology.

Empowered Learning, Rasmussen University’s CBE learning model, allows students to take control of their learning. Students manage their own pace—meaning they can use their professional and life experience to demonstrate some skills faster, and then slow down to work with new material. Also, students create real-life projects that demonstrate new knowledge and the skills needed to flourish in the workplace.

Additionally, students learn in a community by attending weekly class discussions where classmates share feedback and ideas. Instructors also support a student’s work with 1:1 consultation.

DeVry University’s Board of Trustees announced today the appointment of Elise Awwad as the university’s new President and Chief Executive Officer. The first female elected to the position in the university’s 92-year history, she is expected to assume office on Sept. 5. Awwad succeeds Tom Monahan, who will be moving into the newly created role of Executive Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at DeVry, as part of a planned succession.

Elise Awwad will be first female President and CEO of DeVry University

Already known as one of the most innovative leaders in higher education, Awwad currently serves as DeVry’s Chief Operating Officer. In this role, she has redefined student support to include not only academic success, but also intensive career preparedness, lifelong professional support and learning, and support for the student’s whole person. To accomplish this, she has re-envisioned how technology and process excellence can support and extend the work of top-flight faculty and advisors, earning wide recognition from industry observers. 

Through her leadership, DeVry has consistently improved key measures of student success while reducing the real-dollar cost of education through a four-year tuition freeze and substantial investments in grants and scholarships.

Awwad is also widely known as a world-class leader of teams and people – and has leveraged this passion to create new pathways for students and programs for colleagues.  Her launch of DeVry’s innovative Women+Tech Scholars program – and subsequent scholars platforms – integrated unique career development and mentorship support into traditional academic pathways.  She has also created a range of internal programs aimed at supporting colleagues’ personal and professional growth and belonging – including DeVry’s noted leadership training and vibrant network of female colleagues.

Spelman College announced today the appointment of Pamela E. Scott-Johnson, Ph.D., C’82, as the College’s new provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. Scott-Johnson, who currently serves as provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey, will join Spelman on August 1, 2023.

Spelman College Announces Alumna Pamela E. Scott-Johnson, Ph.D., as Provost

As the chief academic officer, the provost has responsibility for ensuring the highest integrity and standards for academic excellence, in support of academic affairs, faculty life, and student learning. As the chief adviser to the president and the faculty on academic affairs, Dr. Scott-Johnson will collaborate with faculty on the formulation and implementation of educational policies, oversee and enhance academic programs and the scholarly work of the College.

Before joining Monmouth, Dr. Scott-Johnson served as the dean of the College of Natural and Social Sciences at California State University, Los Angeles, the largest college in the university. She spent nearly 15 years at Morgan State University, Baltimore, serving in many roles including interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts, chair of the department of psychology, professor of psychology, and founding director of the psychometrics graduate program. 

Before joining Morgan State, she spent 10 years as a faculty member at Spelman College, where she earned tenure. Dr. Scott-Johnson worked for nearly nine years in the corporate sector as a senior research scientist for Kraft General Foods. She has published widely in professional journals and has been principal investigator for a large number of research and program development grants. Her professional affiliations include serving on the board of directors of the American Psychological Association, and as a member of the Council of College of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association of Colleges and Universities. She is an alumna of Higher Education Resource Services (HERS), and the American Psychological Association Leadership Institute for Women.

Dr. Scott-Johnson earned master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology and neuroscience from Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, and a bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) in psychology from Spelman College, where she was inducted into Psi Chi, The International Honor Society in Psychology.

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