Presidential Search

Updated May 30th, 2018

Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson named president

of Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Dean of Central Michigan University’s College of Education

and Human Services to begin new role July 1

Harrisburg – The Board of Governors of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education today unanimously selected Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, dean of the College of Education and Human Services at Central Michigan University, to be the next president of Clarion University of Pennsylvania, effective July 1.

Dr. Pehrsson has been in her current role since 2012. She has more than 25 years of experience in higher education, beginning her academic career as an affiliate faculty member and clinical supervisor for counselor education at Idaho State University in 1991. She also has worked in the healthcare field, as both a counselor and registered nurse. 

“Dr. Pehrsson has an extraordinary range of professional experience, as a teacher, practitioner and administrator in both higher education and healthcare,” said Board of Governors Chairwoman Cynthia D. Shapira. “Her extensive background and commitment to students will serve Clarion University well as it strives to advance its mission of serving students, the community and the commonwealth.”

As dean of the College of Education and Human Services at Central Michigan, Dr. Pehrsson serves as the college’s chief executive and academic officer, initiating new programs, including the expansion of international programs, while advancing scholarship, research and other creative activity. She is responsible for recruitment, retention and advancement of faculty and oversees an annual budget of $40 million. She supervises five academic units; 10 education, service and research centers; and more than 230 faculty and staff.

“Dr. Pehrsson has a unique set of tools that makes her an ideal fit for Clarion University and its focus on professional programs,” said State System Interim Chancellor Karen M. Whitney, who served as Clarion’s president for seven years before assuming her current role in September. “They are a perfect match. I am certain Dale will be a great addition to both Clarion University and the State System. I am thrilled that she will be joining our leadership team.”

Dr. Pehrsson said she is excited about the opportunity to serve as Clarion’s next president.

“I am highly honored to have been chosen as the 17th president of Clarion University,” she said. “The strengths of the faculty, staff, community and stakeholders are inspiring. I will seek and welcome advice and support from all constituents. Clarion University has a strong reputation and I look forward to building on our long tradition of excellent teaching and service to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

The Board’s action today comes at the conclusion of a national search for a successor to Dr. Whitney. Peter Fackler is serving as the university’s interim president and will remain in that role until Dr. Pehrsson’s arrival on campus. 

“We are elated to welcome Dr. Dale Pehrsson as Clarion University’s next president,” said JD Dunbar, chairwoman of the university’s Council of Trustees. “She has demonstrated the measure of her mettle as a transformative leader. Her academic credentials cover an oeuvre of majors that resonate with Clarion University’s strengths. She is equally responsive in ‘friend-raising’ as she has been in fundraising.”

Dunbar thanked search committee chair Milissa Bauer and the other members of the search committee, as well as “all of the students, faculty and staff who participated in the process.”

Bauer praised the president-select’s commitment to student success, citing specifically her efforts in “establishing creative initiatives to both recruit and retain students,” and mentioned how well, as a first-generation college student herself, Dr. Pehrsson will relate to many Clarion students.

“She epitomizes the American Dream through education, by first getting associate degrees in liberal arts and nursing, then returning to school to earn progressive degrees, including a doctorate in education,” Bauer said. “Dr. Pehrsson also has experience as the chief operating officer of a hospital, a mental health counselor and as a business owner. Her leadership style will allow her to relate well with our students, our faculty and our entire university community.”

Dr. Pehrsson has a Bachelor of Science degree in liberal studies from the University of State of New York-Albany. She also earned a Master of Education degree in curriculum, instruction and supervision, a Master of Counseling degree, and a Doctor of Education degree in counselor education and counseling, all from Idaho State University. She also has associate degrees in nursing and liberal arts.

In addition to her ongoing role as dean at Central Michigan, Dr. Pehrsson also spent a year as a presidential fellow with the American Council of Education, working directly with the president at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa. The fellowship focused on faculty and staff development, Board of Trustees relations, fundraising and capital campaigns, finance, accreditation, inclusive excellence, advancing technology, strategic planning, community engagement and service learning.

Prior to her arrival at Central Michigan, Dr. Pehrsson spent five years at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She was hired as an associate professor in the Department of Counselor Education; and, after three years, was promoted to professor. She later served as department chair and then as associate dean of the College of Education.

Dr. Pehrsson previously served as a tenured faculty member at Oregon State University, where she served as a counselor educator in both the Master of Arts in Teaching and Master of Science in counselor education programs. She was an adjunct faculty member at Portland State University in Oregon and an assistant professor at Sam Houston State University in Texas.

While at Idaho State University, she also worked as an elementary school counselor in the Snake River School District and as a child and family counselor in Pocatello, Idaho. She served as a career and personal counselor and founded The Learning Connection-Literacy and Learning Disability Clinic in Pocatello. She was chief operating officer for patient and clinical services at Bingham Memorial Hospital in Blackfoot, Idaho; associate director of nursing and patient services and captain of the maternal transport life flight team at Bannock Regional Medical Center in Pocatello; and a registered nurse at the Lexington School for the Deaf in New York City.

Dr. Pehrsson is a licensed and nationally certified counselor and a member of various professional organizations. She served for two years as president of the Michigan Council of Deans for Education at State Colleges and Universities and remains a member of the group’s Leadership Council. She has authored or co-authored numerous scholarly publications, including a peer-reviewed book titled Core Issues in Child Counseling.

Clarion University, which is celebrating its sesquicentennial, enrolls about 5,200 students. It offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business, education, health, science and the arts. It opened in 1867 as the Carrier Seminary of Western Pennsylvania. It was converted to Clarion Normal School in 1887 and became a university in 1983, upon the creation of the State System.

Presidential Search Firm

AGB Search

Founded in 2010 by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, AGB Search focuses exclusively on higher education leadership, conducting executive searches for college and university presidents, chancellors, provosts, vice presidents, deans, university system heads and CEOs of coordinating boards and related foundations. The firm is headquartered in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit:

Search Committee Members

  • Trustees
    • Milissa Bauer (committee chair)
    • Neil Weaver
    • Donna Oberlander
  • University executive, Dr. Phil Frese, dean, College of Business and Information Sciences
  • Faculty members
    • Dr. Ray Feroz, APSCUF representative, Department of Human Services, Rehabilitation, Health & Sport Sciences
    • Dr. Barry Sweet, Department of Social Sciences
  • Non-instructional members
    • Anita Lahr, Department of Biology and Geosciences
    • Dr. Wendy Snodgrass, athletic director
  • Student, Brianna Shepherd
  • Alumna, Jane France
  • University constituents
    • Len Cullo, vice president for finance and administration
    • Joseph Croskey, Student Success Center
    • Dr. Brenda Dede, associate vice president for academic affairs
  • Former president/chancellor, Dr. Geraldine Jones, California University president
  • Search coordinator: Ann Jamison, Office of the President; Kris Stiglitz, Office of the President
  • State System representative, Dr. Kathleen Howley, deputy vice chancellor for academic and student affairs
  • Board of Governors representative, Donald Houser Jr.

Communication Archive

Updated November 13, 2017


The Clarion University Presidential Search Committee has announced the official advertising campaign to solicit candidates has begun.  The Committee is inviting nominations, expressions of interest and applications for the position to be accepted and evaluated on a rolling basis throughout the fall.  To ensure full consideration, applications should be received by December 11, 2017.  Prospective candidates are encouraged to contact Dr. Garry Owens, Ph.D., Executive Search Consultant, by email at, to arrange a phone conversation to discuss the opportunity.

While the advertisement provides a synopsis of what Clarion University has to offer, Milissa Bauer, search committee chair, said a presidential prospectus that "provides a more comprehensive review of the University and the opportunities that exist for the ideal candidate" has been developed to complement the ad. A copy of both the ad and prospectus can be found, under the "Position Advertisement" and “Presidential Prospectus” tabs.

Updated October 12, 2017


The Clarion University Presidential Search Committee officially began its work to select the next courageous and confident president for Clarion University!

The committee with consultation from Dr. Garry Owens, search consultant from AGB, developed the timeline and reviewed and provided feedback for the position ad.  In addition, Dr. Owens met with a variety of constituents and stakeholders on October 24/25 to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing Clarion University as well as the qualifications and qualities desired in its next president. 

As you know, the search process must remain confidential but we are committed to keeping the university community generally informed via periodic updates on the website.  For example, the search timeline, names of committee members, confidentiality agreement, and the position ad and presidential prospectus will be posted to the website.

Press release to university and community - October 12, 2017

Updated January 18, 2018


The Clarion University Presidential Search Committee has announced that, after weeks of reviewing applications for the presidency at Clarion University, the Search Committee has completed the initial review of files and a select group of candidates has been invited to in-person interviews at an off-site location later this month.

“The pool of applicants was very impressive and we have narrowed down the field to those who have the key credentials set forth by the search committee.  We are looking forward to meeting with these select candidates to see which ones exhibit the “right stuff” during the in-person interviews.  I am grateful to the members of the search committee for their full engagement in the process including their due diligence to find ideal candidates to meet our expectations for the next President of Clarion University” said Milissa Bauer, Search Committee Chair.

On campus interviews are expected to take place March 1 – 9, 2018.  Additional details will be shared with the campus community as they become available.

Updated February 6, 2018

The Clarion University Presidential Search Committee announced today that it had narrowed the pool of candidates for president of the University from six to three. Our nationwide search netted over 50 applicants.  The committee conducted six in person interviews during January 26 and 27, 2018 at the Pittsburgh International Airport.  From that diverse pool of six candidates, three candidates exhibited the essential qualities, credentials and experience to be invited to our campus. The final candidates will now visit campus beginning the week of February 25 through March 8.

Cover letters and CVs of the candidates will be available 24 hours in advance of their interview on the Presidential Search website at:  People will have 24 hours following each interview to provide feedback to the Search Committee via an electronic survey managed by the search firm. The URL will be posted prior to the first interview. 

“The Search Committee is extremely pleased to present these three outstanding candidates to the campus and surrounding community. said Milissa Bauer, Clarion trustee and chair of the Search Committee.

After considering the feedback from the stakeholder groups that will meet with the candidates, the search committee expects to send the names of up to three candidates to the council of trustees.  It is the fiduciary duty of the council of trustees for recommending candidates on to the next step.  Once the council makes their decision, two names will be forwarded to Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education board of governors who will interview them and select the next president.

Updated March 13, 2018


The Clarion University Presidential Search Committee is pleased to welcome three candidates to campus to interview for the position of University President. 

Employees, students and community members are welcomed and encouraged to attend the Open Forums for each candidate and provide feedback via a survey managed by the firm, AGB Search.  The link to the survey will be open on the university’s presidential search webpage on the first day of the corresponding candidate interview and all three links will remain active for comments through midnight on March 10.

The first candidate is Dr. Robert (Bob), who visited campus Feb. 25–27.  Dr. Glenn is the president of Athens State University in Athens, Alabama and has been that institution’s president since 2008.  Dr. Glenn’s open forum took place Monday, Feb. 26, in the Suites on Main North Theater. If you attended his open forum, please take a moment and fill out the survey regarding his visit. This survey will close at midnight Saturday, March 10.


Dr. Robert (Bob) Glenn
February 25-27
Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Martin Abraham was the second candidate to visit campus. He was here on March 4–6.  Dr. Abraham is currently serving as Provost at Youngstown State University and has been in that role since 2014.  Dr. Abraham’s open forum was on Monday, March 5, in the Suites on Main North Theater.


Dr. Martin Abraham
March 4-6
Curriculum Vitae

The final candidate to visit campus was Dr. David Urban on March 6–8.  Dr. Urban is the Dean of the Jennings A. Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  The open forum for Dr. Urban was on Wednesday, March 7, in the Suites on Main North Theater.


Dr. David Urban
March 6-8
Curriculum Vitae

The search committee is excited about introducing the candidates to the Clarion University community.  Next steps include a meeting of the search committee on March 14, 2018, to review the feedback from the surveys and the interaction with our Clarion University community. 

At the end of that meeting, the search committee may recommend two candidates to the Council of Trustees.  The Council of Trustees has scheduled a special meeting, open to the public, on March 15, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. to review the recommendations.  If approved by the Council of Trustees, those names will then be forwarded to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors, who will interview the candidates and select the next president of Clarion University. 

Updated March 15, 2018


“The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s policy requires two candidates to be forwarded to the Council of Trustees,” said trustee Milissa Bauer, chairperson of the search committee. "Based on feedback from the constituent groups and our desire to find the best candidates, the committee has decided to extend the search in order to find additional qualified candidates to be considered for Clarion University president. The committee will move forward immediately to seek additional candidates."

"Trustee Bauer built a synergy among her Presidential Search Committee," said J.D. Dunbar, Council of Trustees chairperson. "It was an obvious bonding process, as each member served the highest value of time commitment with honor to Clarion University. I am enormously proud of every member of the Presidential Search Committee and look forward to their continued engagement in this process."

Dunbar and the Presidential Search Committee would like to express their sincere appreciation to those who attended the public forums and provided feedback about the candidates.

Updated April 16, 2018

As you may recall, the Council of Trustees requested the Presidential Search Committee to extend the search so that university leadership is finalized prior to 2019.   The Committee is making progress on the extended search and is pleased with the candidates in the pool.  The Committee anticipates bringing a select number of candidates to campus beginning April 29 through May 4 paying special attention not to cause conflict during finals week. 

The on-campus schedule has been collapsed to allow these candidates to all visit within one week.  The candidate names and vitas will be shared with the campus and community in advance of the campus visits.



The Clarion University Presidential Search Committee was pleased to welcome four candidates to campus to interview for the position of University President. 


Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson
Watch the open forum


David Urban
Watch the open forum


Amir Mohammadi
Watch the open forum


Dione Somerville
Watch the open forum

Updated May 11th, 2018

Clarion University recommends Urban, Pehrsson as candidates for president

Clarion University's Council of Trustees today voted unanimously to recommend two candidates for university president to the Board of Governors of Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education.

Following the recommendation of the presidential search committee, the 11-member council recommended that the Board consider Dr. David Urban, dean of the Jennings A. Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University, and Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, dean of the College of Education and Human Services at Central Michigan University.

"We choose to echo the presidential search committee's decision to make a courageous statement by endorsing and forwarding these candidates," said JD Dunbar, chair of the Council of Trustees. "Our next president will herald hallmarks of change for Clarion and will be someone who will create winning work teams and affirm others, who can nurture, shepherd and challenge us to grow in a way that complements the Clarion community, raises our visibility in the State System and connects us academically,"

Urban and Pehrsson are experienced academic leaders who possess the qualities to build upon the institution's 150 years of delivering an excellent education. Both individuals have a passion for the mission of public education and possess the qualities necessary to effectively advocate for the university, articulate our values and actively champion fundraising and friend-raising with the university's many and broadly based constituents, according to Dunbar.

"The council believes that these two candidates would continue our tradition of excellence; enhance our co-curricular programs and activities; advance our enrollment/retention goals; leverage our academic strengths in an effort to deliver a high-quality, student-centered experience; and communicate with our campus community to inspire all to do the right things for the right reasons at the right times," she said.

Urban has served as chief academic and administrative officer for the AACSB-accredited Jones College of Business since 2013. The school serves 3,100 students with 150 faculty and staff and a $22 million operating budget. He has led strategic planning, administrative structure and processes, and academic affairs and has secured multiple gifts exceeding $1 million, including a $3.5 million gift to establish the Political Economy Research Institute. He oversaw construction of a new advising center. A certified Dale Carnegie Course instructor, he implemented the addition of the course as a requirement in the undergraduate curriculum.

Pehrsson has been a dean and professor at Central Michigan University since 2012. She is responsible for initiating new programs; international expansion; global/distance education; and the advancement of scholarship, research and creative activity. She recruits, retains and advances qualified faculty from diverse disciplines and backgrounds. Pehrsson oversees an annual budget of $40 million and supervises five large academic units. In 2017, she completed a one-year presidential fellowship in the office of the president of Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa. She serves on national, regional, state, university, college and community committees. She has secured multiple gifts for her initiatives including a $5 million grant from the Dow Foundation.

Urban and Pehrsson were among four candidates who visited campus last week.

"All of the candidates we brought on campus were of exceptional caliber and have notable credentials and achievements. I am proud of our search committee for selecting this level of candidates," said search committee chair Milissa Bauer. "We followed the presidential selection policy and process set forth by the State System, which included engaging a nationwide search firm that yielded highly diverse and qualified candidates."Reference checks, full background reviews and verifications of credentials were completed on all candidates visiting the campus."After reviewing all the feedback from the university family (employees, students, alumni and the Clarion community), the search committee deliberated and chose the two candidates that exhibited a track record of strategic leadership and the essential qualifications of inspiring, engaging, motivating and mobilizing integral units that work together to solve challenges including demonstrating a record of success in fundraising and friend-raising to advance the mission of public education and the institution," Bauer said.

The Board of Governors and the interim chancellor will interview Urban and Pehrsson and will select the next president of Clarion University.

Last Updated 6/12/18