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Mercer names Anita Olson Gustafson as dean of College of Liberal Arts

Dr. Anita Olson Gustafson was named the new Dean of the College of Liberal Arts on March 24. (Mercer Marketing)
Dr. Anita Olson Gustafson was named the new Dean of the College of Liberal Arts on March 24. (Mercer Marketing)

Soon seven of Mercer University’s 12 schools and colleges will be led by female deans.

After months of interviews and reviewing qualifications, the university announced Anita Olson Gustafson’s appointment as dean of the College of Liberal Arts in a press release Thursday, March 24.

President William D. Underwood said in the release that he is impressed with Gustafson’s “energy, ideas and passion for liberal learning.”

“Her background and experience as a faculty member and administrator at an established private liberal arts college ideally position her to lead our College of Liberal Arts, which serves as the academic cornerstone of the University,” Underwood said.

Gustafson has been a professor of history at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina since 1997. There, she also held terms of interim provost, interim dean of academic programs and chair of the history department.

Additionally, she has been awarded Presbyterian’s Professor of the Year in 2007 and been the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award from South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities in the same year.

Gustafson’s appointment will begin July 1.

She succeeds Lake Lambert, who was named president at Hanover College in Indiana last summer. Lambert served as dean of the College of Liberal of Arts for five years.

Keith Howard, who is the chair and professor of mathematics, filled the position as interim dean during the search process.

Gustafson said in the release that she is excited about the opportunity to join the Mercer community.

“I have been so impressed with the students, the faculty, and the administration, and I look forward to working together to prepare the leaders of tomorrow,” she said. “Mercer’s commitment to academics, to service, and to the overall undergraduate experience makes this an excellent fit for me.”

Gustafson received her master’s degree and Ph.D. in American history from Northwestern University.


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