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Provost and dean of academic affairs appointed

May 17, 2016
 Laura Niesen de Abruna, provost and dean of academic affairs
Laura Niesen de Abruna, York College of Pennsylvania's new provost and dean of academic affairs

York College has named Dr. Laura Niesen de Abruna, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., as its first provost and dean of academic affairs. Niesen de Abruna will begin her work at York on July 1.

"I am delighted and honored to have been chosen to work with Dr. Gunter-Smith and the faculty, staff and administration at York College of Pennsylvania,” said Niesen de Abruna. “The challenge of becoming the founding provost at York and moving the institution to a higher level of academic excellence is very exciting to me, and I look forward to beginning work as soon as possible in the summer."   

Niesen de Abruna has more than 35 years of experience in higher education, both as a faculty member and as an executive manager with expertise in strategic planning, fundraising, enrollment management, board relations, and graduate and undergraduate curriculum development. 

“I am excited that Dr. Niesen de Abruna will be joining us,” said President Pamela Gunter-Smith. “Her experience and talents aligned perfectly with initiatives in the College's strategic plan.  I look forward to working with her as the College moves toward Greater.”

Niesen de Abruna has had a central role in the fundraising initiatives at five institutions and has been instrumental in bringing in more than $20 million in gifts and $25 million in grants over the course of her career. In the area of strategic planning, she served as special assistant to the president for strategic planning at SUNY Oswego and was the officer in charge of strategic planning at Heidelberg University in Ohio. She has served on the Board of Trustees of Ithaca College and has organized board committees at Susquehanna University, Heidelberg University, Roger Williams University, and Sacred Heart University. 

She has overseen regional reviews by the New England Association of Schools and College, The Higher Learning Commission, and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Universities, and has also overseen professional accreditation reviews for programs in Social Work, Physical Therapy, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physician Assistant, Athletic Training, Education, Engineering, Architecture, Music, Business, Chemistry, and Construction Management. At Sacred Heart University, she has worked extensively with Enrollment Management, serving as vice president for enrollment management for the 2011-2012 academic year and focusing on student success in retention, advising, and persistence to graduation. The University has added 21 new graduate programs at the master's and doctoral levels in the past three years.

A graduate of Smith College, Niesen de Abruna has a deep involvement with the liberal arts, having majored in English and French, and having spent a year at the University of Paris. She received a master’s degree and a doctoral degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Science in Education in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. She has published extensively on women's literature, T. S. Eliot, and the role of the public intellectual in higher education. She has received numerous awards, including two Fulbright Fellowships in Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council on Education (ACE). As a faculty member, she worked at Ithaca College, where she became assistant, associate, and full professor of English Literature. Previous full time teaching included faculty positions at the University of Puerto Rico and the University of Texas at Austin. 

In the past three years, Niesen de Abruna has been extensively involved in leadership positions at the national level in higher education. She serves as a member of the board for Chief Academic Officers at the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and as President for the Association of Chief Academic Officers (ACAO), which has been recently established in partnership with ACE. 

A private college located in southcentral Pennsylvania, York College offers more than 50 baccalaureate majors in professional programs, the sciences and humanities to its 4,400 undergraduate students. The College also offers master's programs in business, education and nursing, and a doctorate in nursing practice. York College students enjoy a high-quality education that emphasizes practical application and a community invested in their success. The College provides a personal plan to help students focus their passions and attain their goals so they are prepared for a lifetime of meaningful careers – ready to meet the challenges of their profession and feeling confident and proud of their achievements.


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