Heather J. Knight is the twenty-first president of Pacific Union College, where she has brought great passion, energy and insight to her role as CEO of this distinctive Seventh-day Adventist college. Prior to arriving at PUC, Knight served for three years as provost of Andrews University, functioning as chief operating officer and chief academic officer. Before that, Dr. Knight served with distinction for 18 years at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.
Knight is the first woman to serve as president of PUC, and is the first African-American woman to serve as president of an Adventist college or university in North America. She has been published in academic and popular venues, has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, and has been the recipient of many awards, including “Woman of Achievement” by the San Joaquin Commission on the Status of Women.
Academic Dean and Vice President for Academic Administration
Nancy Lecourt has served Pacific Union College as Academic Dean since 2006. Prior to being selected by the PUC board of trustees as vice president for academic administration, Lecourt worked as a professor of English at La Sierra University and then at PUC for almost 30 years. In 1993, Lecourt’s teaching and leadership skills were recognized when PUC students voted her “Educator of the Year.”
Lecourt obtained a Ph.D. in English literature at the University of New Hampshire in 1999. Lecourt continues to put her skills to work outside the academic administration office, writing essays and poems for Spectrum magazine, and writing three picture books for children, including Rainbow (1980, Review and Herald); Abracadabra to Zigzag (1991, Lothrop, Lee and Shepard), and Teddy, the Better-than-New Bear (1993, Pacific Press).
Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Financial Administration
Dave Lawrence was confirmed as Pacific Union College’s vice president for financial administration and chief financial officer in September 2010. Most recently the university controller at Loma Linda University, Lawrence has extensive experience in the field of educational finance. He is an adjunct professor for La Sierra University teaching school finance, and an assistant professor at Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health. Prior to his work with LLU, Lawrence worked for eleven years in the Adventist academy system.
Lawrence and his wife Darlene have two sons, Christopher and Michael, presently in high school. “PUC makes a compelling case for anyone who loves higher education finance,” says Dr. Lawrence. “I was drawn to the realization that we are on the verge of accomplishing something really special…and I am just privileged to have been offered this opportunity.”
Vice President for Asset Management
John Collins, vice president for asset management, has worked in a variety of administrative roles at PUC for over twenty years. He has served as vice president for student services and enrollment, as well as vice president for financial administration. Prior to joining PUC, he spent 12 years as a high school principal and business manager; seven years at Rio Lindo Academy, and five years as principal of Modesto Adventist Academy. He earned his Ed.D. from Loma Linda University in educational administration and leadership.
For the past decade, Collins has been involved with non-profit organizations, including an economic development corporation and a private foundation that focuses on philanthropy in education. His interests include understanding the special needs of those with ADD, child care issues, golf and sailing. He lives in Angwin with his wife Rosemary, an assistant professor of communication at PUC.
Vice President for Student Services
Lisa Bissell Paulson has been an integral part of PUC’s administration as the vice president of student services since 1998. As dean of students, Paulson acts as the liaison between the administration and the students, supervising, fostering and assessing all phases of student life at PUC. She has held administrative positions within the Adventist education system for almost thirty years, including dean of students at Walla Walla College in Washington and vice president for public relations at PUC.
Since taking her post as vice president of student services, Paulson has overseen various large-scale physical improvements to the PUC campus in Nelson Memorial Library, the Student Center, and most recently the Dining Commons. She is often seen all over campus speaking with students, searching for any areas that may be improved to better the students’ experience. Paulson is married to Robert Paulson, Ph.D., associate professor in exercise science, health and nutrition, and is the mother of 10 year-old Joy Elizabeth Paulson.
Vice President of Enrollment Management & Public Relations
Jennifer Tyner joined PUC in November 2012 to oversee recruiting and enrollment efforts and manage the college’s marketing, communication and publications. Tyner has extensive history in Adventist higher education, administration, and communications. “I am very excited to join PUC during this chapter of growth and development,” she says. “It’s inspiring to be a part of the college’s growing enrollment, increased retention, and commitment to innovation.”
Before coming to PUC, Tyner served as project director for Community Care of Western North Carolina, a nationally recognized health care delivery system aimed at providing better, more efficient and more cost-effective health care for our country’s most vulnerable individuals. She served from 2000 to 2006 as vice president for student life at La Sierra University in Riverside, Calif., where she helped increase student retention by six percent and graduation rates by 13 percent. She holds an M.A. in English from La Sierra, and B.A.’s in English and business administration from Loma Linda University.
Vice President for Advancement
Walter Collins began his tenure at PUC in July of 2013, as vice president of advancement and alumni relations. Prior to this appointment, Collins was the executive director of the California Symphony Orchestra. Under his leadership, the orchestra completed a strategic plan, doubled its number of donors, increased ticket sales revenue and reduced operating costs. The orchestra also received a National Endowment for the Arts award and a Getty Foundation/League of American Orchestras award for its Sound Minds program, the Symphony’s groundbreaking music education and tutoring program.
In his prior role as president and chief executive officer of United Way, Collins dramatically increased revenue and oversaw the strategic transformation of United Way into the community impact model, leading to its distinction as the leading public policy and advocacy United Way organization in California.
Collins is the product of K-12 Adventist education, and holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley. Bilingual in Spanish, Collins is married to Amy, a freelance writer and editor with a magna cum laude degree in English from the University of California, Riverside. The Collins family includes two young children, son William and daughter Everley.
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