Provost's Council

The Provost's Council participates in strategic and long-range planning; proposes, reviews and endorses policy and procedures; and advises on matters relating to: academics, academic support services, research and other scholarly and artistic activity, enrollment services, space allocation, administration of extended and international campuses and distance learning, assessment, and fiscal planning.  

The Provost's Council

Benjamin Ola. Akande Benjamin Ola. Akande
Dean of the Walker School of Business & Technology

Dr. Benjamin Akande is Professor of Economics and Dean of Walker School of Business and Technology, Webster University. In addition, he serves as Webster's Chief of Office of Corporate Partnerships. Dean Akande holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oklahoma and has completed post-doctoral studies at John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and at Saїd School of Business, Oxford University, in the areas of leadership and change. Dr. Akande's interests are diverse but connected: excellence, community, learning, empowerment, and growth.

Dean Akande is regularly sought out as an economic commentator with appearances on Anderson Cooper 360, Public Radio's "Marketplace" and St. Louis affiliates of FOX, ABC, and NBC. Dean Akande is Vice Chair of the Board of Argent Capital. He also serves on the Boards of the Saint Louis Art Museum, Forest Park Forever, Rx Outreach, and Missouri Baptist Medical Center.

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Michael Cottam Michael Cottam
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
Director of Online Learning Center

Dr. Michael Cottam oversees the development and delivery of online courses and programs offered worldwide by Webster's schools and colleges. He is an experienced academic leader, strategic planner, instructional designer, and online education specialist.

Prior to joining Webster in 2014, Dr. Cottam served as Dean of Instruction at Portmont College at Mount St. Mary's in Denver, Colorado, where he led all academic, instructional design, and instructional technology initiatives. He has also served as Faculty, Associate Dean of Instruction and Director of Instructional Design and Technology at Rio Salado Community College in Tempe, Arizona.

Dr. Cottam holds a PhD in Educational Technology and an MA in Spanish Applied Linguistics from Arizona State University.

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Thao Dang-Williams Thao Dang-Williams
Dean of Extended Education

Dr. Thao Dang-Williams works with Webster University's five schools and colleges to enhance student services, lead a coordinated enrollment effort, strengthen programs for both undergraduate and graduate students, and build educational partnerships in the St. Louis metropolitan area. 

Dr. Dang-Williams has had an extensive career in higher education. At Ranken Technical College, she held the positions of Assistant Registrar, instructor, and then later became the first female department chair of the college. She then assumed the position of Dean of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division at St. Louis Community College. She has been with Webster since 2010, serving first as the Associate Dean for the College of Arts & Sciences and then as Interim Associate Vice President and Director of the Online Learning Center, prior to her appointment as Dean of Extended Education in 2014,

Dr. Dang-Williams earned her BA in Communication and Government with a minor in the Classics from Monmouth College. She also holds an MA in Communication and an EdD in Higher Education Administration, both from Saint Louis University.

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Wm. Kenneth Freeman (William) Kenneth Freeman
Chief Information Officer & Vice President

Ken Freeman is responsible for all aspects of technology at Webster's more than 100 domestic and international sites, including enterprise information systems, networking and technology services, desktop support, instructional lab support, media center operations, the technology help desk and training, IT policy and information security.

Prior to joining Webster in April 2011, Mr. Freeman's held employment with Monsanto, CIGNA, Fleet Financial Group, United Parcel Service and IBM. He received his BS in business management from Herbert H. Lehman College in New York and his MS in telecommunications from New York University. He is a graduate of the Society of Information Management Regional Leadership Forum and holds a certificate in ITIL V3 Service Management.

Mr. Freeman's responsibilities include: Information Technology, Help Desk ,Desktop Services, Media Services, Project & Program Management Support, Application Development & Maintenance, Voice/Telephone support, Instructional Lab Support, Networking and Technical Services, Information Services and Information Security.

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Brenda Fyfe Brenda Fyfe
Dean of the School of Education

Brenda Fyfe has been the Dean of the School of Education since 2002. She is a professor and researcher in the field of education. She has studied the Reggio Approach for over 20 years and has been a consultant to many private and public schools during these years. She is a board member of the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators and the Association for Constructivist Teaching and Learning.

Dr. Fyfe has held many positions within the School of Education including being the MAT coordinator for early childhood education, the director of university assessment, chair of the School of Education, and the director of experimental and individualized learning. She holds a PhD in Education from Southern Illinois University, an MA in Early Childhood Special Education, and a BA in Sociology from Quincy College.

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Greg Gunderson Greg Gunderson
Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Greg Gunderson leads all functional areas of finance and general accounting, resource planning and budget, endowment administration, administrative services, facilities planning and management, and public safety. He joined Webster in March 2011, after serving as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Business and Operations in the office of Academic Affairs at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Gunderson has provided financial and accounting leadership at international organizations including ConAgra Foods, Inc., Cray Research, Inc., and Arthur Anderson & Co. He earned a BS in business administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, an MBA from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota, and a PhD in educational studies, with a specialization in educational leadership and higher education, from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Dr. Gunderson's responsibilities include: Accounts Payable, Accounting Office, Bursar & Cashiers, Collections, Facilities Operations, Finance, Payroll, and Public Safety.

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Nancy Hellerud Nancy Hellerud
Vice Provost

Nancy Hellerud joined Webster University in April 2011. She serves as chief of staff to the Provost, overseeing operations of the Office of Academic Affairs. She works with the senior administration, deans and faculty on a range of policy issues and strategic initiatives, with a focus on improving procedures and policies.

Prior to joining Webster, Ms. Hellerud served as interim dean (2010-2011) and associate dean (2004-2010) of the Hamline School of Business in St. Paul, Minnesota and was an assistant professor in the department of management and marketing. She holds a JD from the University of Oregon School of Law, an MA in Liberal Studies from Hamline University, and a BA in English and German, also from Hamline.

Ms. Hellerud's responsibilities include: Academic Advising,the Academic Resource Center, Faculty Development Center, and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

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Ted Hoef Ted Hoef
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Ted Hoef joined Webster University in 1992. He leads all functional areas of student affairs, works closely with student government, develops student life policies and procedures, and consults with campuses throughout the Webster network on student life issues.

Prior to joining Webster, Dr. Hoef worked in student affairs at University of Illinois Chicago (1988-1992), Stanford University (1982-1986), and Texas A&M University (1979-1982). He holds a PhD in Higher Education Administration from the University of Missouri- St. Louis, an MBA from Texas A&M University, and a BS in Speech Communication and Mass Communication from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

Dr. Hoef's responsibilities include: Campus Dining Services, Career Planning and Development Center, Counseling and Life Development, Dean of Students Office, First-Year Experience Program, Housing and Residential Life, Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs, Office of Student Engagement, Student Health Services, and the University Center. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Webster University and in the higher education doctoral program at Maryville University.

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Robert Parrent Robert Parrent
Interim Chief Enrollment Officer

Dr. Parrent leads all functional areas of enrollment management which includes financial aid and undergraduate, international and graduate admissions for the Webster Groves campus. He came to Webster in June 2013 after serving as Vice President for Enrollment Management at University of Central Arkansas. 

Over the course of his career Dr. Parrent has served as Vice President for Student Affairs, University of Southern Indiana and as Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services at Midway College. He holds Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees from Western Kentucky University and a Doctor of Education, Higher Education Administration from Indiana University, Bloomington.

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Laura Rein Laura Rein
Dean of University Libraries

Laura Rein administers the Webster University Libraries, overseeing the provision of quality information and library services in support of the University's curriculum to students, faculty, and staff in St. Louis, at extended sites, and in online programs. She coordinates with staff at Eden Theological Seminary on the operation of the Webster-Eden Library System, a cooperative program that supports the teaching, research, and intellectual pursuits of Eden Theological Seminary and Webster University. Dean Rein is the director of the University’s Global Leadership Academy, a faculty/staff leadership development program. She also serves as the editor of the Webster University Press, managing the existing catalog as well as acquisition and publication of new titles. She has been with the University since 1995. She received her Master of Library Science from the University of Michigan and her Master of Arts in English from the University of Kentucky.

Dean Rein has extensive experience is providing on-campus and off-campus library services and resources. Her teaching experience includes library instruction in information literacy and online short courses for the Association of College and Research Libraries. She is an active member of the MOBIUS Council, a member of the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries and is a Consultant/Evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission.

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Eric Rothenbuhler Eric W. Rothenbuhler
Dean of the School of Communications

Mr. Rothenbuhler was previously Associate Dean of the Scripps College of Communication and Professor of Media Arts and Studies at Ohio University (2010-2012), director of the Media Studies MA Program at New School University (2001-2004), and a faculty member at University of Iowa (1985-2001) and Texas A&M University (2004-2010). He earned his PhD in 1985 from the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California with a dissertation on the living room celebration of the television audience for the 1984 Summer Olympic games.

As a scholar, teacher, and administrator, Dr. Rothenbuhler has long pursued the integration of differing approaches to the study and practice of communication and media, and built a record of engagement with interdisciplinary programs, international scholarship, student media, outreach, and educational access.

Dr. Rothenbuhler's teaching and research address media anthropology, media history, and communication systems ranging from ritual through community to media industries, with special interest in music, sound, and radio. He is author or co-author of more than 60 articles, chapters, essays, and reviews on media, ritual, community, media industries, popular music, and communication theory. He has been a keynote or invited speaker at conferences and universities in China, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and at many universities in the US.

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Peter Sargent Peter Sargent
Dean of the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts

Peter Sargent is the Dean of the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts and the Head of the Lighting Design and Stage Management Programs. He has been with the University since 1966. He received a BFA from the Carnegie Institute of Technology and an MFA from Yale University. Mr. Sargent has worked with the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis for 39 seasons. Highlights with the Rep as lighting designer include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, Anything Goes, The Most Happy Fella, She Loves Me, Sweeeney Todd, A Little Night Music and Mister Roberts.

Mr. Sargent is a member of the College of Fellows of American Theatre, the National Theatre Conference, the Educational Theatre Association's Hall of Fame, the Musical Theatre/Theatre Panel for the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Network Program Policy Committee for Young Audiences (YA). He is also a vice president of the St. Louis Chapter of YA, on the Board of Directors for National Young Audiences, and a recipient of a Special Citation for Education from the United States Institute for Theatre Technology.

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David Carl Wilson David Carl Wilson
Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences

David Wilson has been the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences since 2002. Many new programs have been launched during his tenure, ranging from an undergraduate emphasis in Biotechnology to the Global MA in International Relations.

Dr. Wilson earned his BA in Classical Greek from the University of Georgia, an MA in Philosophy from the University of Illinois, and a PhD in Philosophy from UCLA. He remained at UCLA, where he taught philosophy and wrote the McGraw-Hill textbook, A Guide to Good Reasoning. While at UCLA he served as Vice-Chair of Philosophy, Assistant Dean of Humanities, and Vice Provost.

Dr. Wilson is engaged in the St. Louis region, serving as a director on many local boards including the Academy of Science-St. Louis, the Missouri Biotechnology Association, the Coalition for Plant and Life Sciences, the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute, and the German American Heritage Society. He also chairs the Ethics Committee for the St. Louis Science Center, and has been a fellow with Leadership St. Louis. He serves on the Executive Committee of the American Council on Education's Council of Fellows and as co-chair of their national Outreach and Engagement Committee. He has been actively involved in national higher education issues, having served in Boston for a year as a Fellow with the American Council on Education.

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