OUS dean chosen

Published 10:37 am Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ohio University Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit and Executive Dean for Regional Higher Education Bill Willan announced on Monday that J. Nicole Pennington has been appointed dean of Ohio University Southern.

Pennington joined the faculty at OUS in 2006 and is currently the associate director and associate professor of nursing.

“I think having a good understanding of our campus culture helps,” she said. “The faculty, staff and students have helped prepare me for this role.”

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Pennington, the school’s first female dean, was one of five people being considered when candidates for the position began on-campus interviews in late February. The list of five was narrowed to three earlier this month.

Pennington follows in the footsteps of Willan, who served as dean of OUS for five years, Dr. Bill Dingus, and Dr. Dan Evans, who has served the Southern Campus and the regional system of Ohio University for more than 13 years in numerous roles, including OUS dean, executive dean for regional higher education and vice provost for eLearning OHIO and Strategic Initiatives. Evans agreed to return to OUS this past July during the search for a permanent dean.

“Dan (Evans) has been a leader in Ohio higher education for many years,” Willan said. “A Lawrence County native, he is a caring educator and innovator who has helped the Southern Campus faculty and staff adjust to the changing landscape of higher education. I am deeply grateful for his agreement to lead the campus during the search process.”

Pennington earned her doctorate from Chatham University and her master’s in nursing from the University of South Alabama. She holds certifications from the National Board of Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN) and National Certification Corporation (NCC) for the Maternal-NB.

“She is a known commodity,” Evans said about his successor. “She’s a very well-respected member of the faculty and a huge part of our leadership team. She took our nursing program from a startup to the largest program at OUS. She’s a team player and a team builder.”

Pennington shows a pattern of creating rapid growth and development, Evans said, and he expects her to “bring that level of passion and commitment to the office of dean.”

Pennington has been the recipient of numerous awards both as an educator and as a nurse. Identified as one of the “Top 20 Nursing Professors in Ohio” by onlineschoolsohio.com, Pennington also was selected as a 2012 Outstanding Professor by Ohio University’s Office of Regional Higher Education. A recipient of the Kentucky Governor’s Award for Children’s Health Initiatives in 2007, among other awards, Pennington has numerous publications in the areas of children’s health and nursing education. Her article in the Journal of School Nursing on the hazards of energy drinks drew both regional and national media attention.

Prior to joining OUS, Pennington was a charge nurse for a 40-bed acute care medical-surgical unit at King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, Ky., and served in that capacity for various nursing units for six years. Earlier in her career, she was health coordinator for a large school district.

“My plan is to ensure we continue providing high-quality education and prepare students for jobs after graduation,” Pennington said. “We also plan to garner new audiences with our distance learning and continue to benefit the community with the means at our disposal.”

Pennington’s appointment begins on July 1.