Dr. Anita Olson Gustafson Named Dean of Mercer’s College of Liberal Arts

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MACON – Presbyterian College historian and academic administrator Dr. Anita Olson Gustafson has been named dean of Mercer University's College of Liberal Arts, the institution's oldest and largest academic unit. Her appointment is effective July 1.

Dr. Gustafson succeeds Dr. Lake Lambert, who last summer assumed the presidency of Hanover College in Indiana after serving as dean of the College of Liberal Arts for five years. Dr. Keith Howard, chair and professor of mathematics, has been leading the College as interim dean since July 1, 2015.  

In addition to serving as professor of history at Presbyterian College since 1997, Dr. Gustafson also held terms as interim provost from 2010-2012, interim dean of academic programs from 2005-2007, and chair of the history department from 2000-2004.

“During the interview process Dr. Gustafson clearly demonstrated that she has a heart for the liberal arts,” said Mercer Provost Dr. D. Scott Davis. “She also is an experienced academic administrator and award-winning scholar-teacher who I believe will provide effective leadership for our College of Liberal Arts. I am very pleased that Dr. Gustafson will be joining us at Mercer, and greatly appreciate the excellent work and service of Dr. Keith Howard, who has led the College during this interim period.”

“I am impressed with Dr. Gustafson's energy, ideas and passion for liberal learning,” said President William D. Underwood. “Her background and experience as a faculty member and administrator at an established private liberal arts college ideally position her to lead our College of Liberal Arts, which serves as the academic cornerstone of the University.”

During her tenure at Presbyterian, Dr. Gustafson served on and chaired a number of committees, led several special academic and administrative initiatives and was the College's accreditation liaison with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. She was named Presbyterian's Professor of the Year in 2007 and received the Excellence in Teaching Award from South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, also in 2007. Her scholarship focuses on Swedish-American history. She has had numerous articles published in professional journals and publications and is a frequent presenter at national academic conferences.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to join the Mercer University community as dean of the College of Liberal Arts,” Dr. Gustafson said. “I have been so impressed with the students, the faculty, and the administration, and I look forward to working together to prepare the leaders of tomorrow. Mercer's commitment to academics, to service, and to the overall undergraduate experience makes this an excellent fit for me.”

A native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Dr. Gustafson graduated with honors from North Park University in Chicago. She earned her Master of Arts and Ph.D. degrees in American history from Northwestern University.

Dr. Gustafson and her husband, Charles, have a teenage son, Karl.

Kyle Sears
Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​