Updates on Academic Affairs Leadership

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are finding time to reflect and rejuvenate while engaging in the work and goals you have set for yourself in the summer months. One of my intentions for my summer work is to ensure we have the resources and talent needed to implement the university’s strategic priorities and continue to advance our vision of global social justice and inclusive excellence.

To that end, I am excited to provide an update on several appointments in academic affairs and to keep you apprised of additional transitions in the provost’s team.

Welcoming Sheila Smith McKoy as Vice Provost of Equity, Inclusion, and Faculty Excellence

I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Sheila Smith McKoy as vice provost of Equity, Inclusion, and Faculty Excellence. With over 30 years of experience in higher education, Sheila is a seasoned academic leader who brings a wealth of experience in leading change and transformation in academic institutions. She is an equity-focused leader whose strategic acumen, deep knowledge of faculty affairs, demonstrated track record of advancing faculty and librarian success across the lifespan, and ability to work across university units will be integral to ensuring that diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the center of our academic enterprise. 

I am very grateful to Shawn Calhoun and the search committee for their commitment to identifying a talented pool of finalists. In their recommendations, the committee highlighted Sheila’s knowledge of diversity and retention initiatives, mentorship of faculty in the tenure and promotion process, experience with shared governance, ability to foster collaboration between academic units and student affairs, and familiarity with intersectional frameworks as several of her compelling qualities.

Sheila has served in a variety of senior academic leadership positions that have prepared her to make a significant contribution to enhancing equity, inclusion, and faculty and librarian experience at USF. As provost and vice president of academic affairs at Holy Names University (HNU), she created the university’s first academic strategic plan, bringing data-driven decision-making to the forefront, working closely with union leadership to align the needs of their members with university goals, and partnering with units to support enrollment increases. She also oversaw innovation and faculty training in online and hybrid modalities, building HNU’s capability to offer multiple degrees wholly online, in hybrid format, and in person. She helped establish HNU’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Center and launched creative, equity-focused programs such as a dual-enrollment opportunity for high school students and a program offering free courses to the parents of HNU students seeking to complete their degrees. In her previous position as chair of the English department at Kennesaw State University, she measurably improved the department’s diversity metrics in recruiting, hiring, and retaining research-focused faculty of color and oversaw a significant increase in underrepresented faculty serving in departmental leadership. She served as the director of the African American Cultural Center and of the Africana Studies Program at North Carolina State University, where she also established a Native American Studies minor and designed the college’s first recognition awards to celebrate college and faculty excellence in diversity.

Sheila is an accomplished scholar, poet, and filmmaker who is widely published in the areas of race and difference, literature and culture, and mentorship. Her books include When Whites Riot: Writing Race and Violence in American and South African Cultures, and she has served as co-editor for Teaching Literature and Writing in Prisons (forthcoming from the Modern Language Association). Sheila is the recipient of the 2020 Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Prize in poetry, co-author of an award-winning anthology, One Window’s Light: A Haiku Collection, and author of the poetry collection, The Bones Beneath (forthcoming from Nomadic Press). Her credits include three documentary films that she directed and produced. She is also a trained mediator specializing in restorative justice practices, who brings this ethos to the communities of which she is a part. 

Sheila’s commitment to inclusive excellence and passion for antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion have been a through-line of her leadership and professional profile since becoming the first African American to earn a PhD in English from Duke University and the second Black woman to earn tenure in her college at Vanderbilt University.

I am delighted to have Sheila joining the provost’s team in this critical position. Please join me in warmly welcoming her to our community.

Recognizing Senior Vice Provost Shirley McGuire

Senior Vice Provost Shirley McGuire has advised me that she intends to return to faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences in fall 2023. I am extremely grateful to Shirley for her service, leadership, thought-partnership, and dedication to maintaining instructional excellence through the challenges of the pandemic and the transitions in the provost’s office. In the coming weeks, the provost’s office will launch a search for the vice provost of Inclusive Excellence and Curricular Innovation.

Shirley will serve in her current role until the end of fall 2022 or early spring 2023, and will then transition to the role of vice provost and special adviser for one semester, working to ensure a smooth transition of our educational effectiveness, instructional continuity, institutional research, and curricular development functions while developing key academic initiatives. I am deeply thankful to Shirley for agreeing to continue in her role as trusted adviser and fount of institutional knowledge through the end of the year before she takes a well-earned and overdue sabbatical year and rejoins CAS. 

When our community returns this fall, I look forward to celebrating Shirley’s accomplishments, the tremendous contributions she has made to academic leadership at USF, and the inclusive, generous, and mission-driven spirit she has brought to the work of the provost’s office. 

I invite your ideas and suggestions as we refine the leadership profile for the vice provost of Inclusive Excellence and Curricular Innovation. Please submit comments for consideration by the search committee as they develop the leadership profile. I am grateful to Shawn Calhoun, who has agreed to chair the search for the position. Please submit nominations and self-nominations to serve on the search committee. The committee’s work will begin with a goal of identifying candidates in July, seeking faculty and staff input in the fall, and having our chosen candidate in place by January 2023.

Eileen Chia-Ching Fung Appointed Permanent Dean

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Eileen Chia-Ching Fung as permanent dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). Dean Fung is a passionate advocate for liberal arts education that is equitable, mission-driven, community-engaged, and student-centered. 

Over her 24 years at USF, most recently as interim dean, Eileen has distinguished herself as a dynamic and entrepreneurial leader, a champion of both faculty and students, a collaborative and equity-minded leader, and a pragmatic visionary with a track record of creating and resourcing innovative programming. She conceptualized and founded the Honors College with a $15 million endowment gift from Gordon Getty ’56. She was instrumental in securing a $1.5 million gift from Richard Blum to establish the Privett Global Honors Scholars Program to support faculty development of global educational curricula and provide funding for student immersion and study abroad opportunities. She currently serves as one of the principal investigators of a multi-year, $1.5 million Andrew W. Mellon grant to support the matriculation of underrepresented and underserved students from the Foothill-De Anza Community College District to USF. 

She first came to USF in 1997 on a James Irvine Dissertation Fellowship, which later evolved into the Gerardo Marín Diversity Fellowship, and she was hired as a full-time faculty member in the Department of English in 1998. She subsequently served as chair of the English department and director of the Asian American Pacific Studies program, which she helped to establish, before being appointed associate dean of arts and humanities in 2010 and senior associate dean in 2019. A first-generation college student, Eileen earned a BA in English literature with a minor in Asian American studies from UCLA and a PhD in medieval English literature with specializations in feminist and post-colonial theories and ethnic American literature from UC Santa Barbara. 

I look forward to Eileen’s continued leadership in developing exciting opportunities for CAS and her contributions to enhancing and reimagining Jesuit education in line with the vision outlined in our strategic plan.

Leadership Appointments in the School of Nursing and Health Professions

I would like to offer a heartfelt thanks to Dean Patricia Pearce for her exceptional leadership, and dedication to SONHP during her year with us as interim dean. I am very grateful to Trisha and her executive leadership team who are undertaking major transitions in preparation for the arrival of Dean Eileen Fry-Bowers. 

I also want to share the following leadership announcements and transitions at the School of Nursing and Health Professions: 

  • Megan O’Banion PsyD, MA has been appointed to the role of senior associate dean. She brings extensive practice, teaching, service, and leadership experience to SONHP. Her background includes leadership positions as dean for the American School of Professional Psychology, director of clinical training, program director for both academic and clinical programs, and clinical supervisor. In addition, she has served as an invaluable member of the SONHP executive team for the past four years in her role as associate dean for health professions.
  • Erin Grinshteyn PhD has been appointed associate dean for health professions. Erin is an associate professor at USF who holds a PhD in health services (UCLA), a master's in health policy and management (Harvard), and a bachelor's in sociology (Brandeis). As a Master of Public Health program faculty, she has served as chair of the Department of Health Professions and co-director of the Center for Research, Artistic, and Scholarly Excellence (CRASE) and the Interdisciplinary Committee on Aging (ICA).
  • Alexa Curtis PhD, MPH, FNP/PMHN-BC, FAANP has been appointed associate dean for Graduate Nursing Programs. Alexa is licensed and credentialed as a family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, public health nurse, and as an addictions RN in advanced practice. She completed a PhD (nursing, UCSF), MPHS and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (USF), master of science in nursing (USD), and bachelor of science in nursing (University of Pennsylvania). Alexa formerly served as chair of the Department of Integrated Health, chair of the Department of Health Care Leadership and Innovation, and director of Nurse Practitioner Programs at USF.
  • June Madsen Clausen PsyD, inaugural senior associate dean in SONHP, is returning to her faculty role in the clinical psychology doctoral program. I am very grateful for her leadership, service, commitment, and generosity with insights and institutional knowledge gleaned over her 28 years at USF as a faculty member and administrative leader. She will continue to support the leadership transition as needed, while resuming her faculty responsibilities.
  • Susan Prion EdD, RN associate dean for nursing, will retire after more than 30 years of service to USF and will receive professor emeritus status. I am very grateful to Susan for her passion, support, indefatigable efforts, and advocacy on behalf of our nursing students and for her willingness to continue working as associate dean for nursing at SONHP through HR Options to support the nursing programs for Board of Nursing and accreditation requirements, and overall leadership operations and transitions.

I look ahead with excitement at the opportunities unfolding for USF as we begin to implement our strategic plan, welcome new talent, lift up internal talent, and celebrate the contributions of all members of our diverse community.

In celebration of Pride Month, I invite LGBTQ faculty and staff to come together and join me in signing up for USF’s faculty and staff LGBTQ Caucus. I was heartened to see the current administration taking steps to recognize and protect the rights of LGBTQI+ individuals in its Executive Order on Advancing Equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Individuals. With 22.5 percent of our student population identifying as LGBTQI+, and the most inclusive mission statement of any Jesuit university, USF can and must become a leader in creating an affirming climate in which people of all genders and sexualities can thrive and advance gender justice for all.

Wishing all of you a restful and productive summer, and happy Pride!

Chinyere Oparah
Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs