Western Carolina names new dean of distance education programs

CULLOWHEE – Patricia Brown, senior adviser for strategic initiatives and associate professor at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions in Boston, has been named dean of the Division of Distance and Continuing Education at Western Carolina University.

In her role at MGH, which she has held since 2001, Brown is responsible for the development of new program initiatives, grants and contracts, and institute outreach, including international program development. She also acquired funding to develop online components of the program. Brown previously served as division director of distance learning and continuing education at MGH.

“Dr. Brown brings a wealth of experience in distance education that will assist Western in its efforts to be even more responsive to the needs of the region the university serves,” said Michael Dougherty, dean of the College of Education and Allied Professions at Western, who chaired the search committee that selected Brown.

Prior to joining MGH, she was chief operations officer and chief learning officer for the International Center for Distance Learning Inc., an education and training solutions company with a focus on distance learning. From 1995 until 2000, she was vice provost and academic dean at Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, N.J.

Brown served as dean of distance education at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine, from 1985 until 1995, and was assistant vice president for academic affairs at Boston University from 1982 to 1985 after four years as assistant dean for continuing education at Boston University’s School of Nursing. Her career in higher education began at Glassboro (N.J.) State College, where she was coordinator of environmental studies and an assistant professor of biology.

Brown holds a doctorate of education in environmental science and master’s degree in biological science from Temple University and a master degree’s in public health from Boston University School of Medicine. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing education from Temple University, and her registered nurse degree from the Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing. She also earned a management for lifelong learning certification from Harvard University.

Brown will be on the job at Western on March 1. She fills a vacancy created by the retirement last year of Oakley Winters, who had served as dean of the Division of Continuing Education and Summer School since 1996. The division has been renamed to reflect an increased emphasis on distance learning.

Western’s Division of Distance and Continuing Education includes off-campus degree programs, conferences such as Mountain Dulcimer Week and The Cullowhee Conference: Native Plants in the Landscape, professional training, adult learning seminars and summer school. The division is housed in the University Outreach Center, which serves as a meeting and training site for businesses and professional organizations throughout the region.