New dean of innovation at SAU


DAVENPORT — St. Ambrose University has hired a new Dean of Innovation, Adult and Graduate Studies as part of its ongoing efforts to mesh innovation and fresh curricular approaches with the long-standing core values of the Catholic institution.

Katherine J. Van Blair, PhD, director and professor for the St. Ambrose School of Social Work and Master of Social Work program, was deemed a natural fit for this position, said St. Ambrose President Amy C. Novak. “Katie Van Blair’s insights into the changing nature of higher education will suit her well as she steps into the role of Dean of Innovation, Adult and Professional Studies.” Van Blair’s “experience with adult learners and her willingness to build community relationships will enable St. Ambrose to be more agile and nimble as it responds to the complexities of today’s knowledge economy.”

Van Blair

Van Blair’s time at St. Ambrose dates back to when she was an undergraduate student double-majoring in psychology and sociology. She went on to earn a Master of Science in human development and family studies from Iowa State University, a Master of social work from St. Ambrose University and a PhD in child development and family studies with a specialization in marriage and family therapy from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Van Blair joined the faculty at St. Ambrose in 2001. She has served a multifaceted teaching and administrative career, holding faculty member and director positions for the School of Social Work and Master of Social Work program.


“Dr. Katie Van Blair has a long history with St. Ambrose, said Paul C. Koch, provost and vice president for Academic and Student Affairs. “She has been a needed, consistent and strong advocate for graduate students and programs based on her evident and empowering leadership skills. I am looking forward to her bringing these skills to bear as the Dean of Innovation, Adult and Graduate Studies.”

When asked what her vision and definition of innovation at St. Ambrose means, Van Blair said, “My education in social work leads me to see innovation as both a process and a product. The process creates an environment and a culture where people feel comfortable taking risks to try something new and getting people excited about the idea of pushing themselves.

“Over time, those processes will build a product that serves our students and community. It may be a process that supports staff in increasing continuing education opportunities, a new program that adults in the community can access to further their career, or a joint faculty/student initiative on a cutting-edge topic in their discipline.”


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