Lynda A. Szymanski named to newly created provost position at Luther College

February 26, 2021

President Jenifer K. Ward has announced the appointment of Lynda A. Szymanski to the newly created provost position at Luther College.

            "From the opening words of her application letter to the last conversation in her finalist interview, Dr. Szymanski demonstrated that she knew Luther College--both its gifts and its challenges--and that she believed in the intersection between her decade of academic leadership experience and Luther's desire for a mission-conscious, inclusive, and integrative thinker as its new provost," said Ward. "There was striking consistency in the written feedback about her visit from the community. Students, faculty, and staff alike noted her ability to listen well, to challenge, and to inspire in her conversations with them. I am excited to partner with Dr. Szymanski and welcome her to the Cabinet as we work together for the future of Luther College." 

            The provost position is a linchpin in an administrative reorganization designed to create an integrated, student-centric approach to all academic and co-curricular services. Beginning on July 1, Szymanski will work alongside the president to provide energetic and creative leadership as she oversees a student-facing division that includes academic affairs, student engagement, and student success. Szymanski brings strong experience to the role through her teaching and administrative leadership positions at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

            "I have long admired Luther College and am excited to join this mission-focused and student-centered community," said Szymanski. "It is an honor to be selected as Luther's provost, and I look forward to serving on President Ward's leadership team and collaborating with faculty, staff, and students to promote student learning and success throughout the Luther experience."

            Szymanski began her career at St. Catherine University in 1998 in the classroom, teaching undergraduate psychology courses as an assistant, associate, and full professor. Her administrative appointments include, most recently, serving as the associate provost; interim provost; associate dean of the school of humanities, arts, and sciences; and department chair of psychology. 

            One of Szymanski's passions is creating transformational learning experiences for students whether in or out of the classroom. At St. Catherine University, she developed a collaborative undergraduate research program known as the Summer Scholars. With a dual emphasis on student learning and faculty development, Summer Scholars creates an interdisciplinary community of scholars. Nearly 100 percent of student Summer Scholars have been accepted to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. 

            Szymanski is also committed to creating cultural change in higher education to advance  equity and inclusion. At St. Catherine University, she developed several equity and inclusion initiatives, which included identifying barriers to students' participation in high-impact learning experiences, creating international virtual exchange programs, and reevaluating the honors program admission criteria. Szymanski also helped create and facilitate a white antiracist accountability group for faculty and staff.

            Szymanski earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from Connecticut College and holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from West Virginia University. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at the Brown University School of Medicine in Providence, Rhode Island, and her post-doctoral fellowship at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago. Szymanski's area of specialty is health psychology. She has completed extensive research focused primarily on women's health and body image concerns.

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