University Looks to Future With Restructuring Into Schools and Appointment of Deans


Bismarck, ND - The University of Mary has restructured its academic services, moving from divisional units to schools, headed by deans. The 2010-2011 academic year will see the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Education and Behavioral Sciences, and School of Health Sciences taking their places beside the already established Gary Tharaldson School of Business at America's Leadership University.

"The reorganization into schools presents a wonderful opportunity for the university at many levels," says Father James Shea, president. "Grouping departments into schools under deans facilitates an enhanced emphasis on collaboration within and between academic disciplines and with the university administration. On the academic level, that promotes creativity by encouraging interdisciplinary exchange, streamlines and enriches curriculums, and maximizes the use of resources through the deans' overarching view of the 'big picture.' The deans are administrators, as well as academics. They have the responsibility to work with their faculty to see how the school can have the best impact upon the university. This will enable the administration to better do its foundational work of serving the academic encounter between the student and teacher in a more vibrant and closely connected fashion."

"The restructuring allows budget, hiring, and really the work of the university to take place closer to the faculty and students," explains Dr. Diane Fladeland, vice president for academic affairs, who will oversee the Deans' Council. "In this model, the dean has more authority and responsibility for the everyday functioning of his or her school. Then the dean and the faculty, who have firsthand knowledge of issues relating to the school, are able to make more real-time decisions for the growth of the school and its programs. In addition, since this model is similar to the one in use at many other schools, it will facilitate communication between U-Mary and other universities."

A proposal for the reorganization was approved by the University of Mary's Board of Directors in December 2009. It was the product of more than a year of study and collaboration by faculty and division chairs.

The deans of the University of Mary's four schools are: Dr. David Fleischacker, School of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Rod Jonas, School of Education and Behavioral Sciences; Dr. Shanda Traiser, Gary Tharaldson School of Business; Dr. Joellen Roller, School of Health Sciences. (Please see accompanying bios.)

"This is a tremendous opportunity for us at the University of Mary to treasure those things which have worked so well for us in the past and also to embark on new ventures which will have a great impact on the future of the university, our students, and those they will serve," notes Shea.

Dr. David Fleischacker, Dean
School of Arts and Sciences

Dr. David Fleischacker brings a diverse academic background and extensive teaching and administrative experience to the role of dean of the University of Mary's new School of Arts and Sciences. A scholar with publications and research relating the natural sciences and the humanities, he is passionate about the cultivation of the human mind as a whole by promoting intellectual creativity and culture within a vibrant moral and religious atmosphere.

A native of New Brighton, MN, Fleischacker has a Bachelor of Arts in both theology and biology from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN; a Master of Arts in philosophy from Boston College; and a second master's degree and a Doctor of Philosophy in systematic theology from The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC. Prior to his U-Mary appointment, he chaired the department of philosophy and theology at the University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, IN. There he oversaw the development and implementation of education curricula and served as the director of the undergraduate program in ministry and director of the graduate program in theology. Fleischacker reached out to the community with initiatives including a faculty lecture series and the creation of exams that enabled high school students to earn theology credit. He has taught a wide variety of graduate and undergraduate courses at Saint Francis and at Mount Marty College in Yankton, SD (one of U-Mary's sister Benedictine colleges), and also served as faculty for diocesan and collegiate institutions.

Additionally, Fleischacker co-founded and is director of the Lonergan Institute in Washington, DC, a nonprofit organization that creatively integrates theology, philosophy, education, and culture. He also was circulation manager for the Thomist Press for five years, and founded a computer repair company while a graduate student. Fleischacker has been a visiting scholar of the Newman Research Center in Pittsburgh, a host and workshop leader at an annual teachers' retreat for the Institute of Catholic Liberal Education, and a regular contributor to the Newman Studies Journal.

Dr. Rod Jonas, Dean
School of Education and
Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Rod Jonas, the first dean of the new School of Education and Behavioral Sciences, has been a leader in the University of Mary community for more than 20 years. Having come to the university in 1989 as head men's basketball coach and physical education program director, he became a full-time member of the education faculty in 1995. As chair of the Education Division from 2004 to 2010, he committed himself to the development of students and the advancement of the university's educational programs. In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, Jonas has served as director of U-Mary's student teaching program and project director for several grants, and NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative. He was recognized with the university's 2005-2006 Regents' Award for Teaching Faculty.

Active in his professional, civic, and religious community, Jonas is past president of the North Dakota Association of Teacher Educators, past president of Bismarck Area Association of Teacher Educators, and has served as a team chair/member of various North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board teacher preparation accreditation teams. He is also a member of the North Dakota Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the International Society for Technology in Education, and The Collaboration for the Advancement of College Teaching & Learning. In 2008, he was appointed by the Governor to the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board.

A native of Goodhue, MN, Jonas has a Bachelor of Science in physical education from Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN; a Master of Science in education from North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND; and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Prior to coming to the University of Mary, he taught at both the high school and college level in the United States and at the Seoul Foreign School in the Republic of Korea, and has been instrumental in furthering U-Mary's global perspective and foreign study programs.

Dr. Shanda Traiser, Dean
Gary Tharaldson School of Business

In January 2009, Dr. Shanda Traiser became the dean of the University of Mary's first school, the Gary Tharaldson School of Business. Prior to accepting the newly created position, Traiser was an associate professor in the Jamestown (ND) College Business, Accounting and Economics department, and the college's director of assessment.

Traiser has brought both a strong academic grounding and significant real-world professional experience to her role as dean. Born and raised in the Woodworth, ND, area, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in business administration and English from Jamestown College, followed by a Master of Business Administration from Minnesota State University-Moorhead, and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in institutional analysis from North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND. A Certified Management Accountant, she spent almost 20 years in private business and industry, primarily in manufacturing management, working for international corporations. She gained a broad range of business experience in positions including that of controller, cost accounting manager, project manager, and contract administrator, before making a career change into teaching.

Business ethics and strategic planning/implementation are two areas of special interest to Traiser, as an educator, a scholar, and a leader in her profession and her community. Her professional and community involvement includes membership in the American Association of University Women, the Bismarck Arts and Galleries Association, the Jamestown Hospital Board of Directors, and the Bismarck Public Schools Business and Marketing Advisory Committee. She is a Certified Trainer in Servant Leadership and a Stephen Minister through Trinity Lutheran Church in Bismarck.

Traiser is a member of the Institute of Management Accountants, Association for Institutional Research, Association for Institutional Research in the Upper Midwest, and Pi Lambda Theta International Honor Society and Professional Association in Education.

Dr. Joellen Roller, Dean
School of Health Sciences

The founding dean for the University of Mary's School of Health Sciences, Dr. Joellen Roller, has served the university with distinction since joining the faculty of its newly created department of physical therapy in 1995. Drawing on 23 years in clinical practice and advanced study in both physical therapy and education, Roller helped develop a physical therapy program at U-Mary emphasizing professional competence, academics, and values, and was instrumental in the creation of the university's first doctoral program, the Doctor of Physical Therapy.

Roller has served as director of the physical therapy program and chair of the Division of Human Performance Science, and was honored for her leadership with a 50th anniversary Heritage Award. In addition to teaching graduate courses - she became a full professor in 2009 - she has continued to be actively involved in the university's planning and growth, contributing her knowledge and capabilities as chair of the Structure and Organization Committee.

A native of Starkweather, ND, Roller is a lifelong learner, as well as a dedicated teacher and skilled administrator. Having completed a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Physical Therapy degree from the University of North Dakota (UND), Grand Forks, she went on to earn two doctorates, one in educational leadership from the University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, MN, and a second in physical therapy from UND.

She has a distinguished record of scholarship and has publications in three different physical therapy journals. She has served her profession by holding several offices in the North Dakota Physical Therapy Association. Having worked as a grief facilitator through the Good Grief program and delivered several speeches in the community on the value of living life and dying a natural death, she also serves as a lector at the Church of Corpus Christi.