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or Allison Benner, College Relations Associate - Media, 610-740-3790

Distinctive Administrative and Academic Strategy




Allentown, PA (October 16, 2007) - Dr. John David Dawson, the Constance and Robert MacCrate Professor in Social Responsibility and former Provost at Haverford College, has been named Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at Cedar Crest College. The position, which was recently created by Cedar Crest President Jill L. Sherman and authorized by the Board of Trustees, combines the previously separate areas of academic affairs and student life into one entity of the College. This linkage is distinctive among liberal arts colleges in the country and is designed to enhance Cedar Crest College's philosophy of educating the whole student for life.

David Dawson

The position of Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs is the second highest administrative (second to the president) and the highest academic post at the College. In the position, Dr. Dawson will oversee all aspects of academic and student life programming and take a long-range, visionary approach to connecting students' classroom experiences to relevant opportunities both on campus and in the community. The goal is to develop experiences that extend their college learning and prepare them to enter society.

"Cedar Crest College has always been an innovative institution. Now we are continuing in that tradition by creating a new model for learning in the liberal arts curriculum," says President Sherman. "There is a lot of talk about educating the whole student - educating for life - but few colleges and universities go about this process in an intentional way."

President Sherman notes that in their four years at College, students are faced with a lot of competition for their time and attention. Modern college students have a desire to be involved in all aspects of the campus community while they develop skills necessary for their careers and personal development. In addition to their academic program, students are increasingly interested in participating in athletics, the arts, community service, clubs and organizations, as well as taking on internships and other experiences associated with career planning.

"Our new approach is about bringing all these elements together under the same umbrella into a more focused approach to college life," says Sherman. "We believe strongly that a unifying structure to a student's educational, social and personal development activities not only follows the liberal arts model of developing the whole student but will benefit the student greatly."

President Sherman says that a planned, close relationship between academics and student life should lead to a positive impact on student retention, stronger graduation rates and a more in-depth approach to learning.

"This is the Liberal Arts education lived out in daily life. Combining the academic and social opportunities of the College will build a four-year college experience that actually will be applied and taken out into the daily lives of our students after graduation."

President Sherman adds that colleges have not attempted this kind of marriage of divisions because it is difficult to find a leader with the right skills and credentials.

"David is a strong academic leader who also has worked with individuals on their spiritual and social needs. With his background as a provost, David will bring multiple experiences to the table to help us design a program that truly, intentionally educates the whole student."

"By integrating academic and student affairs in this new position, Cedar Crest has made a bold and innovative structural and administrative contribution toward its commitment to a liberal arts education for women that is relevant for both today's and tomorrow's real world," says Dr. Dawson. "In this new role I look forward to working with my immediate team as well as many others to forge even more closely integrated ties among the many amazing academic, co-curricular, and extra-curricular opportunities that the College offers."

"The challenge is to continue to enrich the College's total educational opportunity so that women will increasingly turn first to Cedar Crest for a truly unique liberal arts context that will lay the foundation for their highest educational and professional aspirations," he says. "For me the challenge is fresh and exciting, and I look forward to joining with my new Cedar Crest colleagues."

Dr. Dawson served as Haverford's Provost from 2002-2007. He first joined Haverford's religion faculty in 1987. At the college, Dr. Dawson chaired and/or served as a member of numerous academic committees including the Educational Policy Committee, the Committee on Student Standings and Programs, Academic Council and the Middle States Advisory Committee. He also served as a faculty representative to the College's board of managers and a member of the Long Range Planning Committee.

He directed a major program for faculty development funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation at Haverford, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore Colleges. He also has been director of the Humanities Center at Haverford, an endowed resource for collective and creative thinking in various areas of humanistic scholarship including philosophy, religion, classics and literature, as well as in culture and the arts.

In his coursework and research, Dr. Dawson has focused on ancient Christianity, and literary theory and modern religious thought. He has taught courses on ethical theories, both secular and religious, and the place and role of religion in American public.

Much of Dr. Dawson's scholarly writing deals with the interpretation of the Bible and its relationship to theological reflection. In his most recent book, "Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity" (University of California Press, 2001), he examines Christianity's conception of its relationship with Judaism.

Dr. Dawson also is the author of "Allegorical Readers and Cultural Revision in Ancient Alexandria," and "Literary Theory" in the series, "Guides to Theological Inquiry."

A 1978 graduate from Towson State University, Dr. Dawson holds a master's of divinity degree from Duke University, and a M.A., M. Phil. and Ph.D. from Yale University. In 1994, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching named Dr. Dawson Pennsylvania Professor of the Year.

"Our status as a women's college makes this the best place for this position and linkage," President Sherman adds. "The issues that relate to balancing academic and student life experiences on campus are similar to the issues that women face in life. Women are called upon to be leaders, co-workers, mothers, and caregivers. In today's society, they continue to hold positions of strength in the family and are increasingly called upon to become leaders in society. We feel that women need to learn early - beginning as early as an 18-year-old college student - to balance life issues. It is our responsibility as a college to focus our programming on helping young women establishing priorities for life - for taking care of work, of family, and of themselves."

Located on a suburban 80-acre park-like setting in Allentown, Pa., Cedar Crest is a nationally ranked liberal arts college for 1900 women in eastern Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. The College is 55 miles north of Philadelphia and 90 miles west of New York City.

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