New Provost excited to join Northwestern team

Rob Karwath | January 11, 2016

Deb Bushway sees great opportunity for Northwestern Health Sciences University, where she has been named Provost, the chief academic officer.

Deb Bushway 448 x 252

Deb Bushway isn’t afraid to say it: She’s a bit of a dreamer.

Her career in higher education has been marked by consistent work in areas of new thinking and innovation, including as a professor, a dean, a top university administrator and a consultant to the U.S. Department of Education.

“I do like to work with an eye toward the future, to design solutions to problems and work on innovation and policy,” she says. “But it’s the combination of imagining the future and then being able to implement changes that I like most.”

Bushway sees that opportunity at Northwestern Health Sciences University, where she has been named Provost, the chief academic officer working with faculty and staff to oversee curriculum and all educational offerings.

Bushway comes to Northwestern after a 30-year career that has included work as a psychologist in private practice; a professor and administrator at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul; and as a Dean, Provost, Interim President and Vice President of Capella University in Minneapolis. She also has worked with the University of Wisconsin Extension and the federal Department of Education.

“Deb brings an unmatched set of professional experiences to this important role at a time of opportunity and change at our university,” says Northwestern President Christopher Cassirer, who worked with her during his time as President of Capella. “We are fortunate to have her leadership and knowledge as we work to create the premier health sciences university and train the next generation of health-care leaders.”

Bushway says she is excited for three main reasons to be part of Northwestern. First, as a practicing psychologist, she understands the personal and societal importance of health and wellness.

“I believe strongly in integrated, holistic health and well-being” she says. “This is a time when we as individuals and as a nation need to take ownership of our health and wellness. The practitioners we are training at Northwestern are exactly the experts we need to be infusing into our health-care system.”

Second, she believes in the combination of enhancing the quality and accessibility of higher education, an interest that began with her work in competency-based education at Metro State and continued at Capella.

“The basic idea is that rather than exclusively emphasizing time spent in education—credit hours—we allow you to demonstrate your competency and move along at your own pace,” Bushway says. “It’s especially attractive to adult learners.”

Third is the dreamer part—but dreaming with feet firmly planted on the ground.

“It can be in delivery of education, it can be in outcomes,” Bushway says. “I’m interested in how we leverage the strong foundation and the many talents across Northwestern Health Sciences University and focus them on meeting the needs of our students. We have so many exciting opportunities that we’ll have to prioritize.”

Her message to faculty as she begins in her new role?

“I see this as a partnership,” she says. “The faculty are the heart and soul of the educational experience. My main goal is to emphasize the strengths and values here and support the move for Northwestern into its next phase as we advance our work in interdisciplinary research and inter-professional health-care education.”

And her message to students?

“We want them to be challenged,” she says. “But where it is challenging, it should always be adding value to their educational experience. We want to smooth out any other spots that might be detracting from their learning experience. Then we want to support them through the rest so they can get where they want to go.”

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