Trustees appoint Lori Anderson of Tusculum University next health, human sciences dean

Lori Anderson (right) at last spring’s nursing pinning ceremony at Tusculum University.

The Western Carolina University Board of Trustees has approved Lori Schumacher Anderson, dean of nursing in the College of Health Sciences at Tusculum University, as the next dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences at WCU.

Approval of Anderson’s appointment, which is effective July 1, came during a special conference call meeting Tuesday, April 7.

She will be filling a vacancy that will be created by the departure of the current dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences, Douglas R. Keskula, who announced in April 2018 his plans to return to a faculty position in the college’s Department of Physical Therapy. Keskula, who has served as dean at WCU since July 2013, agreed to continue leading the college until the appointment of a permanent successor.

“Dr. Anderson is a well-qualified leader with broad experience in clinical settings and in higher education,” said Interim Provost Richard Starnes. “She is well-prepared to lead our vibrant and diverse College of Health and Human Sciences. We are very glad she is joining us at WCU.”

A registered nurse with more than 30 years of experience in acute and critical care settings, Anderson has served as dean and professor of nursing and assistant vice president of interprofessional education at Tusculum in Greeneville, Tennessee, since September 2018.

Prior to joining Tusculum, she spent 18 years in increasingly responsible positions within the College of Nursing at Augusta University in Georgia, most recently serving as associate dean for academic and student affairs. She began her teaching career as a nursing instructor at Rochester Community College in Minnesota.

Lori Anderson

Anderson was recommended for the dean’s position following a national search because of her passion for education and the health sciences, said Lowell Davis, WCU associate vice chancellor for student success, who chaired the committee that conducted the search.

“As a nurse, an educator and an administrator, she has demonstrated tremendous intentionality and leadership throughout her career which set her apart from other candidates,” Davis said. “Dr. Anderson comes to Western from our neighboring state of Tennessee. She understands and values the unique gifts and challenges of our region, and is energetic about embarking upon this new decade as WCU’s next dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences.”

Anderson earned her doctorate in nursing from Duquesne University in 2004, her master’s degree in nursing from the University of Minnesota in 1996 and her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Creighton University in 1988. Her research interests include investigating the utilization of simulation in academia and in the health care setting, critical thinking and clinical decision-making, and learning outcomes. She has published extensively in the area of clinical simulation, and serves as an evaluator and committee chair for Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

She is considered an early-adopter high-fidelity patient simulation in the early 2000s and played a critical role in fundraising for an interdisciplinary simulation at Augusta University. At Tusculum, she co-leads that university’s initiative to evaluate its mission, vision and values as part of an effort to generate a new strategic plan.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Western Carolina University team and I am looking forward to beginning in July,” Anderson said. “While these times are unprecedented, the momentum of the College of Health and Human Sciences is set to propel to new levels. Health care professionals are resilient and new opportunities will definitely present themselves, which leads to further learning opportunities and new innovations.”