December 8, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Dec. 8, 2014 — Drury University has appointed Dr. Steven C. Combs as its next Vice President for Academic Affairs. He begins January 26.
“Dr. Combs has accumulated a breadth of academic experience that is complemented by a depth of knowledge and implementation achievements,” said Drury president Dr. David Manuel. “I am particularly pleased that he fully grasps and believes in the mission of Drury University and he will be a great asset to help Drury integrate the liberal arts and professional studies in the 21st Century.”
“Drury University has a tradition of excellence that I have been aware of since I was a graduate student at the University of Kansas,” Combs said. “From its exceptional faculty and staff to its committed alumni, administration and Board of Trustees, Drury has strong organizational DNA. I am delighted to stand shoulder to shoulder with this community, working together for something they love.”
Combs comes to Drury from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, a public comprehensive university, where he has spent the past year as founding dean of the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences. Prior to that, Combs was at Hawaii Pacific University from 2006 to 2013, where he served as dean of the College of Communication and later, founding dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. While in that role, he oversaw a 20 percent enrollment increase from 2009 to 2011 in the wake of the Great Recession. He led efforts to revise the curriculum to emphasize program relevance and distinctiveness. Combs worked closely with faculty to help them achieve their goals as scholars, and he helped secure more than $2.7 million in grants – accounting for nearly 70 percent of HPU’s externally funded projects.
“My approach to leadership focuses on people and the organizational culture. We all have differing gifts,” Combs said. “I hope to work with the faculty and administrative staff to bring forth their unique talents in ways that make them excited to come to campus every day.”
Combs holds a Ph.D. in Communication Arts & Sciences from the University of Southern California and a master of arts in communication studies from the University of Kansas.
Combs succeeds longtime VPAA Dr. Charles Taylor, who will return to teaching communication and rhetoric full time in fall 2015 following a spring sabbatical. The VPAA position is the top academic post at the University, reporting directly to the president.