June 27, 2013

New deans in place at three Vanderbilt schools as fall semester approaches

Three of Vanderbilt’s graduate and professional schools have new deans effective July 1.

Three of Vanderbilt University’s graduate and professional schools have new deans effective July 1.

M. Eric Johnson rejoins Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, while Linda Norman takes the top job at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and Emilie Townes begins work at Vanderbilt Divinity School. The start date for each is July 1.

Each of the new deans was a much sought-after candidate. Norman is the only one who was an in-house selection.

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

“Having worked closely with her for many years, I know (Norman) will be an outstanding dean, bringing to this new opportunity extensive experience along with the respect of the School of Nursing’s faculty and students,” said Jeff Balser, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

Recognized as a leader in nursing and health profession education, Norman has led curricular innovations in blended learning, interprofessional education, quality improvement and doctoral distance learning. She set and implemented the strategic direction for all of the School of Nursing’s academic programs. Norman replaces longtime dean Colleen Conway-Welch.

Vanderbilt Divinity School

Townes, the 16th dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School, is widely known for her work in womanist theology. Other interests include health and health care, cultural production of evil and linkages among race, gender, class and other forms of oppression.

“With its hallmarks of academic excellence, diversity, faithfulness, networking in a university setting and a collaborative spirit in teaching and learning, the divinity school is positioned to be an even greater voice in theological education and world Christianities in a world of religious pluralism,” Townes said.

Townes left a named professorship at Yale Divinity School to accept the position at Vanderbilt, succeeding James Hudnut-Beumler.

Owen Graduate School of Management

Johnson returns to Owen after spending eight years in the 1990s as a professor there, winning two awards for teaching excellence.

“I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead the school to even higher achievement,” he said, calling Owen “a true gem among the world’s best business schools.”

Johnson’s teaching and research focus on the impact of information technology on the extended enterprise. His latest book, The Economics of Financial and Medical Identity Theft, examines the security failures and economic incentives that drive identity theft.

“Among an extraordinary group of candidates, Eric stood out,” said Chris Guthrie, dean of Vanderbilt Law School and head of the search committee that selected Johnson. “His hiring is a coup for Vanderbilt and a testament to the strength, vitality and reputation of the Owen School, the university and Nashville.”

Johnson follows James Bradford as dean.