Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson has served as president of Clarion University since July 1, 2018. Under her leadership, the university has seen its highest retention rates in 29 years, saw back-to-back increases in the size of the freshman class for the first time in 13 years, and had the highest fundraising total since 2013.
Additionally, she launched the Office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, which brings together professionals who will work together to develop policies and procedures to advance student and employee equity, diversity, inclusion, multicultural and international education, and social justice.
Prior to leading Clarion University, she had been dean of the College of Education and Human Services at Central Michigan University since 2012. Pehrsson 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. Previously, she worked in the healthcare field, as both a counselor and registered nurse.
Pehrsson epitomizes the American Dream through education, first earning associate degrees in liberal arts and nursing, then returning to school to earn progressive degrees. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in liberal studies from the University of State of New York-Albany. She holds 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 studied art therapy at the University of Illinois-Chicago as well as metalsmithing and studio art as a post-doctoral student at Idaho State University.
She spent a year as a presidential fellow with the American Council of Education, where she 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.
She was a faculty member and chair of the Department of Counselor Education at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, after serving as an associate professor of counselor education at Oregon State University. She has been a faculty member at Portland State University and Sam Houston State University in Texas.
Pehrsson has worked as an elementary school counselor and a child and family counselor. She and her husband, Dr. Bob Pehrsson, founded a clinic for children with literacy needs and learning disabilities and was chief operating officer for patient and clinical services at Bingham Memorial Hospital in Idaho. She was associate director of nursing and patient services and captain of the maternal transport Life Flight team at an Idaho medical center. She has worked as 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.”
An avid cyclist, Pehrsson enjoys riding the trails of western Pennsylvania, hiking throughout the country, reading, watching old movies and drawing.