Sweet Briar Names New Dean of the Faculty

| April 28, 2011

Amy Jessen-Marshall, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, has been named vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Sweet Briar College.

Sweet Briar President Jo Ellen Parker announced the appointment, which will begin in July 2011. Jessen-Marshall takes over for Jonathan D. Green, who has been named provost and dean of the faculty at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Jessen-Marshall served much of her career at Otterbein, arriving in 2000 as an assistant professor of biology and earth science. From 2006 to 2009 she chaired Otterbein’s nationally recognized Integrative Studies Program, overseeing the redesign of the university’s core curriculum. She then served as dean of university programs and associate vice president for academic affairs before being appointed interim provost.

“Dr. Jessen-Marshall will fit right in here at Sweet Briar,” Parker said. “She’s an academic leader of keen intelligence, unflagging energy, and passionate devotion to the liberal arts. I know I speak for many in saying we can’t wait to start working with her!”

In many ways Jessen-Marshall charted her course to Sweet Briar through Otterbein, having chosen the latter because of its commitment to liberal learning and small residential focus. It mirrored her own undergraduate experience at Gustavus Adolphus College in rural St. Peter, Minn., and shares many characteristics with Sweet Briar.

After meeting the faculty, staff and, most importantly, the students during a visit to Sweet Briar, Jessen-Marshall said she came away excited at the opportunities she sees to work with the community to support its academic mission.

“There is amazing potential here to think about innovative programs around experiential learning and to rethink curricula that can create unique opportunities for student learning that can set Sweet Briar apart as a leading liberal arts institution,” Jessen-Marshall said.

“Ultimately it’s about student learning and offering a curriculum that serves current and future Sweet Briar women and helps them engage with the world as leaders. This is a responsibility I take very seriously. I especially look forward to working with the faculty and to welcoming the students when we start a new academic year in the fall.”

As dean of university programs at Otterbein, Jessen-Marshall directed a campus-wide revision of the curriculum, with specific oversight for the interdisciplinary programs, core curriculum, Honors program, a new first-year experience program and ePortfolio initiative, women’s studies and environmental studies. She also co-chaired an advisory committee to implement an experiential learning initiative called Five Cardinal Experiences.

A successful grant writer, Jessen-Marshall proposed and received funding for several of these educational initiatives and others for science education, undergraduate research, and integrative and experiential learning.

Nationally, she is a member of the Council of Independent College’s Senior Leadership Academy. Representing Otterbein, she also was involved with the Association for American Colleges and Universities through its Shared Futures: Global Learning and Social Responsibility project, where she collaborated with other institutions and national leaders in higher education. She is a member of the Association for Integrative Studies, the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the American Society for Microbiology and the research society Sigma Xi.

Jessen-Marshall graduated cum laude from Gustavus Adolphus, where she majored in biology and minored in English. She earned her Ph.D. in molecular, cellular, developmental biology and genetics from the University of Minnesota in 1996.

As a faculty member, she worked with more than two dozen undergraduate research students on thesis projects, publishing over 35 papers or abstracts on her disciplinary research and her interests in science education.

Her community and professional activities include serving on the College-Level Examination Program board for the natural sciences, involvement in K-12 science education through the Ohio Academy of Science, as well as partnership development with Battelle Memorial Institute research labs and with COSI, the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio.

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