June 22, 2020

June 22, 2020

Presidential message

As we approach the July Fourth holiday, I have several announcements to share with you regarding the reopening of campus for the fall semester, strategic planning leadership, a reset of our Academic Planning Group, our ongoing provost search, an enrollment update, and the normalization of the role of the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT).

First, as we look ahead to the fall semester, we are implementing a gradual reopening of campus, focusing on our academic mission and business-critical operations. As noted previously, our plan calls for traditional, in-person undergraduate courses to begin Aug. 17 and be completed Nov. 25.

We have already resumed clinical and laboratory work for many of our health science programs, and we recently began a coordinated ramp-up of our on-campus research activities, as noted in a June 8 message to campus by Provost Tom Murray, PhD.

Our students are excited to return to in-person, on-campus learning and living, and our focus remains on providing them with an outstanding educational experience while maintaining a safe environment for our entire Creighton community.

We will continue to comply with government and health department directives, and follow the recommendations of epidemiologists, health professionals, and scientists, in guiding our decisions, promoting safety, and ensuring the well-being of those on campus – students, faculty, staff, and guests.

All in-person classes will be developed for remote participation. This will allow us to reduce classroom density, prepare for uninterrupted student participation in the event of illness or need to self-quarantine due to exposure, and quickly shift to online-only instruction, if necessary.

To decrease campus density and promote social distancing, we will continue to offer opportunities for a portion of our workforce to work remotely; reconfigure classrooms, laboratory, and event spaces per social-distancing guidelines; reconfigure food service sites to accommodate distancing; and limit large-group events and social gatherings.

We are also developing enhanced safety and wellness initiatives. These include the establishment of campus-wide community standards; daily screenings and monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms; the promotion of good hand hygiene; requirements around face coverings; increased cleaning and disinfecting; protocols for isolation, quarantine, and transportation of sick students, faculty, and staff; and the use of telehealth and in-person services, among other strategies.

These various plans are taking shape through the Campus Safety and Innovative Operations Workgroup, chaired by Tricia Sharrar, JD, vice provost for Academic Administration and Operations, and inclusive of seven subgroups with wide campus participation. A list of committee members and subgroups can be found on our COVID-19 website.

Strategic Planning

I am grateful to so many who served important roles in the development and the implementation of our strategic plan, Creighton 150: Lighting the Way. Since the plan’s approval by the Board of Trustees in November 2017, we have made significant strides in moving the University forward in the critical areas outlined. Mary Chase, EdD, vice provost for Enrollment Management, has played a major role in this process since the beginning of our listening sessions in the fall of 2015.

As we look to continue the momentum and enter a renewed phase of implementation, we are looking for a new full-time director to move us forward. I want to thank Mary for her outstanding and collaborative work as the University’s strategic planning chair. Along with co-chair Paul McGreal, JD, professor in the School of Law, and later co-chair Kristie Briggs, PhD, professor in the Department of Economics and Finance and director of the DBA program, Mary worked alongside wide representation on the President’s Planning Committee, Steering Committee, and President’s Faculty Advisory Committee for Strategic Planning to bring the campus together in a thoughtful, mission-focused process that involved listening, defining, clarifying, reflecting, and implementing. We have named and developed the desired outcomes and metrics to continue to evaluate and pivot as needed toward our vision and set the stage for our bold future.

Academic Planning Group

I recently named Bridget Keegan, PhD, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the chair of the Academic Planning Group, which will look at our academic mission and our portfolio of offerings across the spectrum of disciplines and professions to best determine innovative, collaborative opportunities that distinguish Creighton and meet the needs of today’s diverse students. 

Committee members are:

  • Ryan Cameron, EdD, assistant vice president, IT and Library Services
  • Mary Chase, EdD, vice provost, Enrollment Management
  • Todd Darnold, PhD, associate professor, management and marketing, Heider College of Business
  • Kelly Dineen, JD, PhD, assistant professor, School of Law
  • Tim Durham, DDS, senior associate dean, School of Dentistry
  • Deb Ford, PhD, associate professor, Graduate School; associate vice provost, Teaching and Learning Center/GAPS-EdD
  • Leah Georges, PhD, assistant professor, EdD in Interdisciplinary Leadership Program, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Graduate School
  • Tony Hendrickson, PhD, dean, Heider College of Business
  • Ed Horwitz, PhD, associate professor of practice, economics and finance, Heider College of Business; Mutual of Omaha Executive Director in Risk Management
  • Gail Jensen, PT, PhD, dean, Graduate School and College of Professional Studies; vice provost, Learning and Assessment
  • Bianca Jinete, market research analyst, Enrollment Management
  • Kelsey Kelly, senior director of strategic academic marketing, Enrollment Management
  • Tracy Leavelle, PhD, associate professor, history; associate dean for Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Kandi McCafferty, PhD, assistant professor, College of Nursing
  • René Padilla, PhD, vice provost, Global Engagement
  • Katie Rinkol, senior director of finance, undergraduate colleges and Graduate School
  • Tom Svolos, MD, associate dean for strategy and accreditation, School of Medicine
  • Amy Wilson, PharmD, senior associate dean for operations, School of Pharmacy and Health Professions
  • Kimberly Zuzenak, director of alumni, College of Arts and Sciences

Provost Search

After the completion of a national search and a series of interviews that occurred last week, three candidates have accepted invitations to enter the next phase of reviews and interviews as finalists.

I am grateful for the outstanding, dedicated work of the search committee, chaired by Joan Eckerson, PhD, chair and professor in the Department of Exercise Science and Pre-Health Professions. Committee members were:

  • Colby Austin, president, Creighton Students Union
  • Laura Barritt, PhD, professor, School of Dentistry
  • Michele Bogard, PhD, associate vice provost for student engagement, Division of Student Life
  • Adrian Dowell, assistant vice president, Athletic Development, Athletic Department and University Relations
  • Terry Grindstaff, PhD, associate professor of physical therapy, School of Pharmacy and Health Professions
  • Amy McGaha, MD, Roland L. Kleeberger, MD, Professor and chair, Department of Family Medicine; director, Interprofessional Clinical Learning Environment, CIPER, School of Medicine
  • Heather Naylor, instructor, College of Nursing (Phoenix); alumna
  • Kayode Oshin, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences
  • John Rumbaugh, assistant director of graduate and adult recruitment, Division of Enrollment Management
  • Rev. Nicholas Santos, SJ, PhD, associate professor of marketing and management, Heider College of Business; rector, Creighton University Jesuit Community
  • Brian Tuttle, reference and systems librarian, Library Services
  • David Weber, JD, professor, School of Law
  • Greg Zacharias, PhD, director, Center for Henry James Studies; professor of English, College of Arts and Sciences

I am also announcing the formation of a new Faculty Interview Committee, which will participate in the next round of interviews beginning the week of Monday, June 29. Dr. Eckerson and Kayode Oshin, PhD, associate professor in the Chemistry Department, are serving as co-chairs. Committee members are:

  • Jason Bartz, PhD, associate professor, microbiology; associate dean, academic and faculty affairs, School of Medicine    
  • Jay Carney, PhD, assistant professor, theology, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Kendra Fershée, JD, professor, School of Law    
  • Rev. Kevin FitzGerald, SJ, PhD, PhD, associate professor, John A. Creighton Chair, School of Medicine
  • Lance Frazier, PhD, associate professor, management and marketing, Heider College of Business
  • Leah Georges, PhD, assistant professor, EdD in Interdisciplinary Leadership Program, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Graduate School
  • Jenn Hasslen, DDS, assistant professor, School of Dentistry
  • Maorong Jiang, PhD, associate professor, political science and international relations; director, Asian World Center
  • LaShaune Johnson, PhD, associate professor, master of public health, Graduate School
  • Maya Khanna, PhD, professor, psychology, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Anthony Kincaid, PT, PhD, professor, pharmacy sciences, School of Pharmacy and Health Professions
  • Kandis McCafferty, PhD, assistant professor, College of Nursing
  • Guy McHendry, PhD, associate professor, communication studies, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Mark Reedy, PhD, associate professor, biology, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Kristina Simeone, PhD, associate professor, pharmacology, School of Medicine    
  • Dustin Stairs, PhD, professor, psychology, College of Arts and Sciences    
  • Julie Strauss Soukup, PhD, professor, chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences    
  • Monica White, assistant professor, cultural and social studies, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Melissa Woodley, PhD, associate professor, economics and finance, Heider College of Business
  • Jinmei Yuan, PhD, professor, philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences.

Professors Hasslen, Jiang, McCafferty, Simeone, Woodley, and Yuan are members of the Faculty Council.

Enrollment Update

While the pandemic and new recruiting rules cast some uncertainty on projections, our enrollment numbers for fall look steady and our Admissions team is optimistic in anticipating a final freshman class enrollment of between 950 and 980 students.

The profile of the class continues to be academically talented, diverse, and consistent with previous years. The overall median test score is comparable to a 27 on the ACT and the median GPA is 3.93. The percentage of students of color remains consistent, up 1% from a year ago at 27%. About 19% are from the Omaha/Council Bluffs area, while 21% of our deposits are coming from more than 1,000 miles away.

Thank you to our Admissions team, along with faculty and staff, who made our virtual Summer Preview such a success. Over 1,000 students signed up to participate in Summer Preview programming the past few weeks.

CIRT Update

I am grateful for the work of our Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), chaired by Tanya Winegard, PhD, vice provost for Student Life, which expanded and evolved to take on a larger role during the pandemic throughout the spring semester and into the summer. As we move forward, the Campus Safety and Innovative Operations Workgroup will take on much of the responsibility for Creighton’s pandemic planning and response, under the auspices of the Office of the Provost and Tricia Sharrar, vice provost for Academic Administration and Operations. Meanwhile, CIRT will return more fully to its responsibilities of responding to other critical incidents affecting the University.


Thank you for your continued dedication, during this uncertain and challenging time, as we prepare for the fall semester. Through our hard work and collaborative efforts, I am hopeful and optimistic about our future.


Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD