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Widener Dean Selected for National Leadership Program

Dean Deborah Garrison

Dean Garrison was one of only 26 people nationwide selected for the National Leadership Academy.

Widener University is pleased to announce that Dr. Deborah Garrison, dean of the School of Nursing, is one of 26 mid-level administrators in higher education nationwide selected by the Council of Independent Colleges and the American Academic Leadership Institute to participate in a year-long Senior Leadership Academy.

Individuals chosen for the program are mid-level administrators in higher education who aspire to senior leadership positions in independent colleges or universities. As a participant, Garrison will attend two seminars, one in San Antonio, Texas, November 2012, and one in Washington, DC, June 2013. She will participate in a mentoring program, experiential learning projects, and a series of readings and case studies.

The purpose of the Academy is to prepare prospective leaders to assume positions as the chief officers in any division—including academic affairs, student affairs, finance, enrollment management, and advancement—in independent higher education.

"The need to prepare future leaders of colleges and universities has never been greater, because the generation of people now in senior leadership positions on campus is rapidly approaching retirement," Richard Ekman, President of the Council of Independent Colleges, said. "Competition for the available places in the Academy was intense, and the review committee found the nomination materials to be most impressive. They (and I) believe that Deborah Garrison has the potential for highly effective leadership in a position of senior responsibility on campus."

Garrison has a PhD, MS, and BS from Texas Woman's University. Her scholarship is focused on women's issues and leadership, including several book chapters, journal articles, and paper presentations at international, national, regional, and state conferences.

"I have been impressed with Deborah's thoughtfulness and thoroughness in approaching major school-specific and university-wide issues," Dr. Stephen C. Wilhite, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, said. "I know from numerous conversations with her that she is highly motivated to seek a cabinet-level appointment as either vice president for academic affairs or president in a university context, and I am certain that she has the experience, intellect, work ethic, and social and emotional competence to position her well for assuming such a role."

Garrison is honored to have been selected. "I look forward to developing my leadership ability through mentorship by senior leaders at Widener University and participation in workshops and other activities with colleagues from independent colleges and universities across the nation," she said. "I am confident that the program will foster personal growth that will benefit my present and future leadership roles."

For more information about the Senior Leadership Academy, visit

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associates, baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees. The university's campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,700 students. Visit the university website,

The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) is an association of more than 600 independent, liberal arts colleges and universities and higher education affiliates and organizations that work together to strengthen college and university leadership, sustain high-quality education, and enhance private higher education's contributions to society. To fulfill this mission, CIC provides its members with skills, tools, and knowledge that address aspects of leadership, financial management and performance, academic quality, and institutional visibility. The Council is headquartered at One Dupont Circle in Washington, DC.

The American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI) provides leadership identification and development programs across all sectors of public and private higher education. AALI creates and implements programs and assistance for academic leaders in various administrative positions enabling them to be successful in their roles and to advance the institutions they serve. In addition, AALI supports research and publications and consults with academic leaders and boards of trustees concerning traditional and emerging issues facing higher education and its governance. Headquartered in Washington, DC, AALI and its predecessor organizations have participated in the advancement of higher education for over 30 years.