Sandra Dunbar, D.P.A., OTR/L, FAOTA, began her position as Adventist University of Health Sciences’ (ADU) new provost on July 2, 2018. She succeeds Edwin I. Hernández, Ph.D., who was elected ADU’s new president last August. Dunbar previously served as the assistant dean of the professional development and education, Pallavi Patel College of Health Care Science at Nova Southeastern University (NSU), a position she held for six years. Until last year, she also served as the University’s Occupational Therapy Department chair, as well as a professor for several years.
Provosts ensure the excellence of academic programming in a university. As ADU’s provost, Dunbar emphasizes the importance of providing the necessary support that students will need for their academic experience. She also describes a “keen ability to recognize the gaps and provide strategies for overall improvements” as a skill that is “an integral part” of a provost’s role.
Dunbar holds a doctor of public administration (D.P.A.) degree from Nova Southeastern University, an M.A. in occupational therapy from New York University, and a B.S. in occupational therapy from Loma Linda University. One of her major career accomplishments has been the development of the Center for Academic and Professional Development at NSU, which offers a compilation of courses and other support systems for faculty and staff to further develop their skills. In addition, she has authored three textbooks, and has several journal publications.
The selection of Dunbar was a University-wide effort that started with a list of candidates provided by a consulting firm. Hernandez conducted interviews with five of the most qualified individuals, and selected three to bring to campus. All levels of the organization engaged in evaluating, interviewing, and providing feedback to Hernandez, which contributed to his final decision to name Dunbar as his new provost on February 23, 2018.
“Deeply rooted in the Adventist faith, Dr. Dunbar brings deep passion and commitment to the mission of Christian higher education. She is a recognized leader in her field, whose scholarly and educational track record, as well as leadership in a clinical professional program, will contribute significantly to the development of our campus and the overall academic vision of AHS/FH,” Hernández said. “We had three outstanding candidates. All of them could have served us well. Yet, Dr. Dunbar had all the experience, competencies, and personal qualities that received the greatest support from our campus, and most importantly, my confidence to be our chief academic leader.”
Dunbar is enthusiastic about ADU’s future and its capability for growth. “I feel that ADU can easily capitalize on the interprofessional education and practice movement, since there are a variety of professional programs within the University. Growing in areas of scholarship will enable ADU to be well recognized not only for stellar education, but also research contributions,” she says.
With ADU’s focus on Christ-centered education, its provost must be sure to also maintain a strong spiritual connection in the academic processes. Sharing about her own experiences attending several Adventist institutions from elementary school to college, Dunbar says, “I understand the value of this type of education and training, and fully embrace the opportunities that are provided in these contexts.”
ADU’s faith-based mission was a major incentive in drawing Dunbar’s interest to joining the campus. She says, “I appreciate that I can be part of an environment that understands how critical it is for young people to have a relationship with Christ. I look forward to joining a campus where faith may be easily expressed in any encounter. This provost opportunity also provides an avenue to not only apply current leadership, management, and academic skills, but to build and expand on them.”
ADU is blessed to have a leader with Dunbar’s combination of faith, academic leadership experience, and passion join its campus. The students who are training to become skilled professionals who live healing values of Christ, will benefit from her vision and commitment.
Adventist University of Health Sciences | July 2018