July 30, 2020

July 30, 2020

Presidential message

I am pleased to announce that Mardell Wilson, EdD, professor and dean of the Edward and Margaret Doisy College of Health Sciences at Saint Louis University (SLU), has been named provost at Creighton University, effective Oct. 1, 2020.

Dr. Wilson succeeds Tom Murray, PhD, who announced in January his intentions to retire as provost once a successor was named. I am extremely grateful to Dr. Murray for his service to the University, and in particular for his recent leadership during the pandemic.

Dr. Murray was first named provost on an interim basis on July 1, 2016, and, following a nationwide search, was selected for the permanent appointment on May 1, 2017. As the University’s chief academic officer, he has played a significant role in the academic operations and overall advancement of Creighton University.

Through his leadership, Dr. Murray helped advance the Creighton 150 strategic plan, the Creighton University Health Sciences – Phoenix Campus, and the Provost Data Management System; recruit and appoint new deans for the School of Law and the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, as well as Creighton’s first vice provost for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion; and increase federal funding and opportunities for Creighton researchers. 

I am excited for Dr. Wilson to build on the good work of Dr. Murray in multiple areas, and continue to move our University forward. Dr. Wilson has been in her current leadership post at Saint Louis University since August 2014, serving as the chief academic officer and financial administrator for approximately 1,800 students, as well as five departments, 82 faculty, and 26 staff in the health sciences college.

Prior to her time at SLU, Dr. Wilson spent 17 years as a professor and administrator at Illinois State University. From 2009 to 2014, she served as the associate and then assistant vice president for Academic Fiscal Management in the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Illinois State. She began her tenure at Illinois State in 1997 as an assistant professor of food, nutrition and dietetics in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and was promoted to full professor in 2010. She also served terms as acting associate provost and assistant provost.

Dr. Wilson earned her undergraduate degree in human resources and family studies dietetics from the University of Illinois and her master’s degree in the field from Eastern Illinois University. Her EdD is in curriculum and instruction from Illinois State University. Dr. Wilson is a registered dietitian and licensed dietitian nutritionist.

At both SLU and Illinois State, Dr. Wilson has worked to cultivate an environment in which inclusivity and appreciation for diverse perspectives are fostered and celebrated, and has reached out to deans and faculty partners to creatively consider how to enhance cross-disciplinary collaborations that address innovative and exciting ways to approach teaching, research, clinical operations, and service-learning.

I am equally impressed with Dr. Wilson’s experience in pairing sound, strategic financial planning with clear, transparent processes to explore innovative and creative ideas for academic programming. At Illinois State, she developed a Full Cost Recovery (FCR) model to expand and incentivize summer session offerings as well as other programming that would attract new students. In her work as co-chair of the Budget Model Review Team at SLU, she introduced and implemented a similar FCR model that accelerated ideas for entrepreneurial efforts.

With her background in the allied health professions and in her role as dean of the health sciences college at SLU, Dr. Wilson has effectively collaborated with deans and faculty across the university’s health sciences schools and colleges, developing a five-year research plan, a peer-reviewed publication support program, and the foundation for an interdisciplinary PhD program, among other initiatives. She also served as a core member on the Sisters of Saint Mary (SSM) – SLU Hospital Master Facilities Planning Team.  Dr. Wilson has worked with SSM and other partners to consider innovative opportunities for clinical education placements and a new online degree completion program in Medical Laboratory Sciences is in progress.

Dr. Wilson comes to Creighton after an extensive and thoughtful national search process. In keeping with candidates’ increasing requests for confidentiality and changing practices in higher education, the search was both confidential and highly involved.

Creighton enlisted the executive search firm of Isaacson, Miller, and formed two campus committees, with wide representation, to assist with the search. I am deeply grateful for the time and dedication given to the process by the members of the Provost Search Committee and the Faculty Interview Committee, whom I announced in a June 22 message to campus, along with seven faculty representatives who participated in on-campus interviews of the finalists. Those faculty members were:

  • Joan Eckerson, PhD, professor and chair, Exercise Science and Pre-Health Professions, College of Arts and Sciences; chair, Provost Search Committee; co-chair, Faculty Interview Committee
  • Kayode Oshin, PhD, associate professor, Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences; co-chair, Faculty Interview Committee
  • Matt Seevers, PhD, professor, Marketing and Management, Heider College of Business
  • Carol Fassbinder-Orth, PhD, professor, Biology, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Julie Manz, PhD, associate professor, College of Nursing
  • Erika Moreno, PhD, associate professor and chair, Political Science and International Relations, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Jeff North, PhD, associate professor, Pharmacy Sciences, School of Pharmacy and Health Professions

I would especially like to recognize Dr. Eckerson and Dr. Oshin. Dr. Eckerson chaired the Provost Search Committee, and she and Dr. Oshin co-chaired the Faculty Interview Committee, which also included representation from the Faculty Council.

Too, I would like to thank Dr. Murray for his counsel and guidance during this process. I am eager to find a way to recognize and celebrate Dr. Murray’s significant contributions to Creighton University. More details will be forthcoming.

Finally, please join me in extending a warm welcome to Dr. Wilson. I look forward to the creativity, enthusiasm, experience, collaboration, and leadership she will bring to the position and to our University.


Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD