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RFU alum Lisa Dutton, PT, PhD, named College of Health Professions dean

Lisa L. Dutton, PT, PhD, an alum of RFU’s Department of Physical Therapy whose academic career began as an adjunct instructor with the department in the 1990s, will rejoin the university as dean of the College of Health Professions on Aug. 1.

Dr. Dutton’s distinguished career most recently includes a four-year term as dean of health sciences with the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Her appointment is the culmination of a four-month search to recruit and interview candidates. The committee, which was assisted by the executive search firm Spencer Stuart, included academic leaders and administrators representing multiple university fields.

“Dr. Dutton is a seasoned and strategic leader who will work collaboratively across the college and the university in positioning CHP for continued success and future growth,” said Provost Nancy L. Parsley, DPM, MHPE, who chaired the search committee.

RFU’s emphasis on interprofessional collaborative practice was also a key factor in Dr. Dutton’s decision to return to RFU — along with emotional bonds with her alma mater.

“Rosalind Franklin University holds a special place in my heart, and I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to return as dean of the College of Health Professions,” she said. “It was clear during my interviews and visit to campus that RFU is a leader in interprofessional education, simulation and community-based care.

"The university's deep commitment to collaboration was evident at all levels,” she added. “I am looking forward to working with institutional leaders and College of Health Professions faculty and staff to further CHP's contribution to the institution's vision for health equity, knowledge advancement and high-quality academic programming.”

Her tenure at St. Catherine’s included service as associate dean and chair of the Schmoll School of Health (2012-18) and director of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program (2011-18), for which she was also a tenured professor. Her record of scholarship includes published book chapters, peer-reviewed manuscripts and refereed presentations. She currently serves as an editorial board member for the Journal of Physical Therapy Education.

As an academic leader, Dr. Dutton’s focus on new program development and expansion helped secure initial accreditation for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work and public health at St. Catherine’s, and she also oversaw the development of a BS program for physical therapy assistants. As the principal investigator for an $18 million grant from the GHR Foundation, Dr. Dutton led curricular, research and faculty development initiatives designed to improve societal health and well-being through the preparation of high-quality practitioners with a focus on collaborative practice, cultural fluency and ecological approaches to health.

She served as the founding dean of the College of Health Professions from 2003-07 at the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio, with enrollment doubling during her time in office as she actively pursued student recruitment and retention efforts.

Dr. Dutton graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1987 with a BS in physical therapy, and she began her professional career as a physical therapist and clinical instructor at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac, Michigan. She continued with several physical therapist assignments at sites across the Great Lakes region and upper Midwest that included medical centers and rehabilitation hospitals.

After earning her master's of science with an emphasis in neurologic physical therapy from RFU in 1993, Dr. Dutton coordinated and taught an RFU course in neurotherapeutic physical therapy from 1993-94. She earned a PhD in higher education administration with a cognate in quantitative statistics in 2001 from Bowling Green State University.

Dr. Dutton will succeed Patrick Knott, PhD, PA-C, who has served as interim dean since August 2021. Dr. Knott guided the college — and its 700 students and 100 faculty members — through the challenges of COVID and a successful return to in-person instruction.

Posted April 29
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