Augustana appoints new deans to schools

Augustana officially added the School of Health Professions and the School of Business this year, both with newly appointed deans from within the university to strategically build them.

Matt Volansky, who’s already director of the doctorate of physical therapy program, is dean of the School of Health Professions, while professor Marcia Entwistle takes on leading the School of Business.

Since both deans are currently serving in roles at Augustana, their transition will be gradual as they start the work of deans, while they keep some current duties. For Entwistle, it’s teaching courses, and for Volansky, directing the graduate program.

The School of Business will provide new programs and opportunities, a liberal arts focus, partnerships with Sioux Falls businesses for internships and part time jobs in local healthcare and banking, Entwistle said.

“We want to be ready for new opportunities that we can present to our students [and] bring new students in that we may not have served before,” Entwistle said.

Professional programs under Entwistle’s leadership include the Master of Public Accountancy, Master of Business Administration and Master of Sports Administration and Leadership. Undergraduate majors include accounting, business administration, finance, marketing, management and sports management.

While working at Augustana for the last 31 years, Entwistle got a broad outlook of the university. She was also a department chair during this time.

“We’re in a really good spot, so it’s looking for new opportunities but making sure that we’re doing everything with care, that we’re doing everything with the Augustana excellence,” Entwistle said.

Students take notes during a lecture by Entwistle. Photo by Camryn Hay.

Volansky said innovation will be at the core of the School of Health Professions, which includes nursing, fitness management, exercise and sports sciences and genetic counseling. He explained that intuitive collaborations made possible by the school provide exposure to other disciplines.

“The university has made a long-term investment in building a culture of innovation with the establishment of this School of Health Professions,” Volansky said. “The School of Health Professions is about developing big ideas in innovative, fearless faculty as well as students.”

First, he’s focusing on the visibility of the School of Health Professions as a nationwide and regional program, increasing enrollment and amplifying the regional impact in South Dakota and surrounding states.

Both schools are working first at the setup of professional programs.

A top priority for the School of Business is launching the Master of Business Administration program. Entwistle said the two-year master’s students just started their first semester, and the 4 + 1 master’s program, which gives undergraduates the opportunity to start working on their master’s, continues to develop.

Student athletes often take advantage of that program to finish their graduate degree at the same time that they finish athletic eligibility. Entwistle knows the student athletes well, as she’s been the NCAA faculty representative for Augustana for 15 years, looking over their well-being, academics and athletic rules.

Volansky said he’s been focusing on developing the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program, “an accelerated, hybrid program,” since he started at Augie in August 2019. It’s already been approved by state and local authorities, so what’s next is an application to the national Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) by June 2022.

June 2023 will be the first class for the doctorate of physical therapy. 

“We’re trying to group things intentionally together to be able to allow synergies to happen primarily so curriculum and outcomes can be aligned so the students get a different type of experience — a more in depth experience,” Volansky said.

The deans already have connections with students that will help them build their schools.

Entwistle is teaching two graduate and two undergraduate classes this semester.

“I think it’s really important for the deans at Augustana to really understand student needs, so I plan to continue teaching all the way through,” Entwistle said. “I think that is one of the most important things — to really know how programs are going, you’ve got to know how the students are doing.”

Tayler Weber, a senior business and accounting major in the accelerated master’s program, has taken two classes with Entwistle.

“She’s very energetic,” Weber said. “She really enjoys what she teaches and the students she interacts with. You can tell that she loves what she does just even when she talks. She is really good about answering questions and making sure you’re succeeding.”

Volansky, who has homes in Ohio and Florida, comes to campus a week per month. 

Graduate Tiegen Lindner, ‘21, a current physical therapy doctoral student at the University of South Dakota, first met Volansky because of a campus club for pre-physical therapy, occupational therapy and chiropractics (pre-PT-OT-Chiro).

“He was just a great resource right away for progressing that pre-PT-OT-Chiro club,” Lindner said. “We were able to reach out to him with questions.”

Lindner described Volansky as calm, well-spoken and accessible, adding that he felt a sense of ease and comfortability with him.

The restructuring of AU’s programs into separate schools with professional programs started with the School of Music and the School of Education in 2020.

It’s all part of Viking Bold: The Journey to 2030, which encompases everything from program changes to new housing projects. With the addition of these two specialized schools, Augustana is working toward strategic growth, partnerships and relations within programs.

“One of the reasons why we want to organize into schools is so that we can provide those intentional cross-linkages that are more horizontally oriented between curriculum, between learning outcomes, maybe between faculty that are teaching,” Volansky said.

Marcia Entwistle. Photo by Camryn Hay.

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