Meet The Deans

Dr. Virginia McDermott 

Interim Dean of the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication

Education: B.A. in Communication from The College of New Jersey; M.A. in Communication; from Texas State University; Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Accolades: Dr. McDermott came to HPU from the University of New Mexico, where for nine years she was a faculty member in the department of Communication and Journalism. Her research examines how problematic events change the nature of relationships and conversations, how communication facilitates coping, and how communication campaigns can be used to address health disparities and social inequities. For the past few years, she and her students have addressed various health risk issues, including teen pregnancy and prescription drug abuse, by using community-based approached to campaign development. Her recent publications include an article in Communication Theory and The Journal of International and Intercultural Communication. She has extensive experience in organizational training and specializes in seminars on how to develop a positive organizational environment.

Focus at HPU: Dr. McDermott came to HPU to design and direct the MA program in strategic communication. This program now has approximately 40 graduate students, including students in the innovative BA to MA program, which allows exceptional students to start taking graduate classes their senior year. In her role as interim dean, Dr. McDermott has overseen the NQSC $1,00,000 studio upgrade (ask her to give you a tour!). She looks forward to working with the faculty as they develop new experiences that enhance student learning.

“Our faculty and staff have over 500 hours of experience in the communication industry, and include those who in a former life were the director of the Today show, a vice-president of programming for Lifetime television, an owner of large public relations agency, a professional event manager, and almost every other role in the communication field you can imagine. This ensures our more than 800 communication students receive an extraordinary education enhanced with real-world experience.”



Mariann TilleryDr. Mariann Tillery

Dean of the School of Education

Education: B.A. in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro; M.S. and Ph.D. in school psychology from North Carolina State University

Accolades: Dr. Tillery, a Phi Beta Kappa inductee, has published numerous articles on facilitating collaboration between special and regular education teachers and implementing an inclusion model of instruction. In her tenure at HPU she has served as chair of the university’s Advisory Board for Educational Assessment and co-authored the 2006 QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan). In 2009, Dr. Tillery was the recipient of one of the Piedmont Triad’s 2009 Women Extraordinaire Awards, given by Business Leader Media. She is also a North Carolina-licensed psychologist.

Focus at HPU: Under Dr. Tillery’s leadership, the School of Education has established the university’s first doctoral degree program in Educational Leadership, which is designed to prepare twenty-first century district leaders to solve problems of practice. She has developed several B.A. to M.Ed. programs in Literacy, STEM, Educational Leadership and Special Education for students to continue their study at HPU to receive master’s degrees in these concentration areas. The School of Education has become a LEGO Education Service Provider for North Carolina, offering training to educators across the state on how to use educational manipulatives to teach the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.

“At HPU, I am reminded every day of how fortunate I am to be surrounded by individuals whose passion and sense of purpose is to positively impact this generation of young people.”



Daniel ErbDr. Daniel Erb

Dean of the Congdon School of Health Sciences

Education: Physical therapy degree from the University of Pittsburgh; M.S. and Ph.D. in anatomy from the Medical College of Virginia

Accolades: He hails from Duke University, where he served for eleven years as the director of graduate studies and associate professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Division in the Department of Community and Family Medicine.

Focus at HPU: Dr. Erb is building an innovative health sciences school that includes current programs in exercise science, athletic training, and physician assistant studies, while a program in physical therapy is being developed. Together, these programs will enable individuals to stay active longer and meet the increasing demand for physicians around the world.

“We are changing lives in a positive way. HPU is about giving and being, not getting and having. There is a willingness on this campus to accept and meet challenges with a can-do attitude.”



Ronald RaganDr. Ronald Ragan

Dean of the Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy

Education: B.S. in Pharmacy; M.S. and Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Kansas

Accolades: Dr. Ragan has more than twenty-five years of experience as a community hospital pharmacist and educator. He comes to HPU from the University of Kansas, where he served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Pharmacy. There, he oversaw the design and development of a new pharmacy degree program and managed the school’s curriculum and assessment program. He has also served as the president of a pharmaceutical consulting company.

Focus at HPU: Designing and developing a new School of Pharmacy – which launched this fall – that will prepare students for the health care careers of tomorrow.

“The ‘success culture’ that the university embodies serves as a great foundation for our new Doctor of Pharmacy Program. HPU has attracted stellar faculty to join the School of Pharmacy, and has developed a blended, rigorous curriculum to help students prepare for the highly team-based environment of health care.”



Carole StonekingDr. Carole Stoneking

Dean of the David R. Hayworth College of Arts and Sciences

Education: B.A. in religion from Rhodes College; M.Div and Ph.D. in Theology and Ethics from Duke University

Accolades: Dr. Stoneking is an ordained minister and elder in the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church and serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of Christian Bioethics. She has published articles in Christian Century, Christian Bioethics, the Church Health Reader, and Studies in Christian Ethics, and is an active member of the Society of Christian Ethics and the American Academy of Religion. Dr. Stoneking has also contributed chapters to a number of books, including the Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics and Aging and Spirituality. She is co-author of Growing Old in Christ.

Focus at HPU: Dr. Stoneking was appointed dean of the David R. Hayworth College of Arts and Sciences in 2006. The College houses twenty-one majors and twenty-five minors and is home to 150 full-time faculty. During her tenure as dean, Stoneking has chaired three dean searches as well as multiple chair searches. Under her leadership, 112 of the College’s 150 faculty have been hired, three new departments have been organized, and multiple new programs and majors have been developed, including interdisciplinary programs in Environmental Studies, Women and Gender Studies, and Service Learning.

“I am privileged to work with people who value and appreciate ideas and dreams, colleagues whose efforts are grounded in hope and directed toward our shared future: our students.”



Jim WehrleyDr. James Wehrley

Dean of the Earl N. Phillips School of Business

Education: B.B.A. in finance from the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater; M.B.A. from Baylor University; Ph.D. in business education from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Accolades: Dr. Wehrley has received multiple teaching awards, including the Meredith Clark Slane Distinguished Teaching/Service Award, the Alpha Chi Teaching Award, and the Exemplary Teacher Award presented by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church.

Focus at HPU: Dr. Wehrley has been instrumental in steering the course of the Phillips School of Business through curriculum changes, implementing innovative instructional techniques, introducing practical experiential learning situations, and providing opportunities for students to hone their job-search skills.

“The students make my job rewarding. They recognize and appreciate that the faculty and staff have their best interests and success at heart, and they respond with significant personal and professional growth.”

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