Excelsior provost Hanner steps aside, Sopczyk named interim

Dr. James Baldwin, acting president of Excelsior College, has issued the following statement:

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Deborah Sopczyk, PhD, RN, has been named interim provost of Excelsior College.

Earlier this month our Provost Dr. Mary Beth Hanner suffered a mild stroke and was admitted to a nearby hospital. While Dr. Hanner is now resting at home, her road to recovery will require her full attention and focus.  As a result, she is relinquishing her responsibilities as Provost effective immediately. In her stead, the College has appointed Dr. Deborah Sopczyk, dean of the School of Health Sciences to the position of interim provost.

Mary Beth has served Excelsior College with distinction for more than 25 years – the past five as our Chief Academic Officer. Throughout her decades-plus service to the College, Mary Beth has championed a student-centered approach and worked to empower our more than 1,000 faculty, helping to transform Excelsior into a national leader in online higher education. Beloved by all who know her, Mary Beth is a respected voice in the academic and nursing fields.

In 2007, she was named a fellow of the Academy of Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing. In 2012, Mary Beth was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in recognition of her depth of experience and significance in contributions to the field of nursing education. She is also the recipient of the Douglas M. Johnson Recognition Award for leadership in minority student retention and diversity, and numerous state and local honors for excellence in teaching and mentoring.

Mary Beth’s vast career achievements ensure her legacy is secure, regardless of whether she returns to work before her scheduled retirement in February of 2017.

Nevertheless, the mission of the College must continue unabated. The provost plays a central decision-making role in the College’s academic administration, overseeing curriculum, online instruction, and faculty within each of our five schools: Business and Technology, Health Sciences, Liberal Arts, Nursing, and Public Service.

Most importantly, the provost serves as a visionary leader, working collaboratively with students, administrators, and faculty to create a high quality educational opportunity for adult learners across the world.

Debbie joined the College within our School of Nursing in 1984. Over the next two decades, she served Excelsior admirably in a variety of capacities, eventually being named dean of the School of Health Sciences in 2007. Debbie is known as a skilled and decisive leader and a sought after expert on education, teaching, and assessment issues.  The growth and success of the School of Health Sciences is a testament to her ability to promote a shared purpose. She has earned the trust of her colleagues by leading by example and confidently embracing new challenges.

Mary Beth’s footprint is considerable, and filling her shoes would be a tall task for anyone. However, the entire Excelsior College leadership team is confident Dr. Sopczyk is the right leader at the right time.

James Baldwin

Acting President, Excelsior College

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