Lauren Sponseller, PhD ‘18, OTD, MSOTR/L, MEd, CLA
, chair of the Occupational Therapy (OT)
department at Salus University, was recently named interim dean of the University’s College of Health Sciences, Education and Rehabilitation (CHER).
All programs within CHER — Blindness and Low Vision Studies (BLVS)
, OT, Speech-Language Pathology (SLP)
, Physician Assistant (PA) Studies
, Orthotics and Prosthetics (O&P)
and Post-baccalaureate programs
— have accreditation-related processes underway, so she wants to make sure the faculty are supported during those initiatives.
Although she admits that being a dean wasn’t at the top of her list of career goals, the strength of the programs within CHER and the strong leadership within those programs encouraged her to apply for the position.
“I love Salus. This feels like home. I love all the programs and I feel passionate about what we do. So, I want to be here to support and advocate for the programs (within CHER),” said Dr. Sponseller.
When she originally joined the OT department in 2012, the program was in its infancy. Her goal at the time was to educate the University about the OT profession, what it does, and what resources the program would need to become successful. More than 10 years later, she said, the department has made its presence known.
“We are delighted Dr. Sponseller stepped up and went through a very rigorous search process. She will be a terrific interim dean for CHER and I look forward to working with her,” said Gerard O’Sullivan, PhD, interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at Salus.
Dr. Sponseller has not lost sight of the work to be done to complete the merger between Salus and Drexel University, expected to be completed in mid-2024. “I don’t think that the challenges of the transition are there yet. But certainly, we’ll have some up ahead,” she said. “For now, we have really strong programs and strong program directors, so it’s full speed ahead for this semester.”
Dr. O’Sullivan agrees, adding that accreditation forces the University to be measured in its approach in regards to the merger.
“We have to be very deliberate in our approach to these processes,” he said. “So, we’re not going to see any precipitous change, but we are going to see incremental change. It’s more difficult to implement incremental change and it takes greater patience. But incremental change lasts longer. And, I have the perfect team working with me to make that happen.”
For now, Dr. Sponseller is getting acclimated to her new position.
“I’m happy, excited, and feel honored to have this role,” she said. “I’ve worked here for more than a decade and as much as I thought I knew, I’m still learning.”