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Directors announced for new graduate degree programs at University of the Pacific, Sacramento

Aug 3, 2015

University of the Pacific today announced that it has appointed faculty directors and key staff to lead its new graduate and professional programs in business, education, policy and health at the university's Sacramento Campus.

"University of the Pacific's Sacramento Campus is evolving into a dynamic, multidisciplinary center for graduate and professional education," said Provost Maria Pallavicini. "The directors of our new programs are among the elite minds in their fields, and they bring tremendous energy and excitement to these new programs. Under their leadership, the University of the Pacific, Sacramento will be unparalleled in providing quality educational programs for both traditional students as well as working professionals."

The MBA program, launching this fall, will be led by Cynthia Eakin, associate dean for academic programs at Pacific's Eberhardt School of Business. David Harris, who joined Pacific from Drexel University Sacramento, will serve as MBA program manager. The Doctor of Education (EdD) program, also launching this fall, will be led by Rod Githens, associate professor in Pacific's Gladys L. Benerd School of Education. Githens also joined Pacific from Drexel, which announced earlier this year that it is phasing out its Sacramento campus.

John Kirlin, a political scientist who has served on the faculties of the University of Southern California and Indiana University, will lead the Master of Public Policy (MPP) and Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs. The MPP program will begin in fall 2016 and the MPA program in fall 2017. Mark Christiansen, past director of the physician assistant program at UC Davis, will lead the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) program, slated to begin in spring 2017 pending accreditation by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant.

The Sacramento Campus, longtime home of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, is located in the city's Oak Park neighborhood 3 miles from the state Capitol. John Jones, the current interim chief information officer at Pacific, will serve as interim director of the Sacramento Campus. 

More about the new leaders:

Mark ChristiansenMark Christiansen, founding director, Physician Assistant Program 
Christiansen, a practicing physician assistant in family medicine and emergency medicine for more than 35 years, joined Pacific from UC Davis, where he was a member of the faculty and directed that school's physician assistant program. Prior to joining UC Davis, he was on the faculty of the University of Nebraska Medical Center and served as associate director of the physician assistant program. 

He is active in local, state, and national physician assistant professional organizations, and has helped to develop continuing education programs for physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

Christiansen holds a PhD in medical sciences from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, and earned his MPAS and a master's in health education at University of Nebraska.  

Cynthia EakinCynthia Eakin, associate dean for Academic Programs
Eakin is an associate professor of accounting and associate dean for academic programs at Pacific's Eberhardt School of Business.  She came to Pacific in 1996 from the University of Hawaii's Manoa campus.  In 2009, she was appointed associate dean, a role in which she developed and oversaw the launch of Pacific's highly successful Bachelor of Accounting and Master of Accounting programs.  In 2014, she assumed responsibility for all academic business programs at Pacific.  Her primary focus is on the quality of students' academic experience and their ultimate success.

Eakin earned her Master of Accounting in 1988 and her Ph.D in 1993, both from Florida State University.  She continues to teach accounting courses at the graduate and undergraduate level, as she has for over 25 years.  Eakin's published research is in the areas of earnings management, disclosure ethics, and insider trading.

Rod GithensRod Githens, assistant dean for Sacramento Programs
Githens, an associate professor in University of the Pacific's Benerd School of Education, will lead the development of a comprehensive set of education programs on the Sacramento Campus, including the doctoral program for working professionals beginning this fall.

Githens joined Pacific from the School of Education at Drexel University. Prior to that, he was an associate professor and director of the Organizational Leadership and Learning Program at the University of Louisville. He has also directed the Online Workforce Development Project with the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, a federally funded research effort examining online workforce development in community colleges across the United States, and managed online programs at the University of Illinois.

He has undergraduate degrees in religious studies from Lincoln Christian College and in history from Illinois State University. He earned his master's in education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a PhD in human resource development, also from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

David HarrisDavid Harris, MBA program manager, Working Professional MBA Program
Harris will serve as program manager for the MBA program in Sacramento. He brings over seven years of experience in higher education program operations and management. At University of Phoenix, he was responsible for managing all elements of faculty recruitment, faculty training, faculty payroll, and faculty scheduling for over 500 faculty members across seven campus locations. His most recent experience was as program manager for Drexel's LeBow College of Business in Sacramento, where he was responsible for the operational delivery of graduate and undergraduate degree programs in business and finance.

Harris holds a BA from California State University, Chico and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. He expects to complete his EdD in 2015.

John KirlinJohn Kirlin, inaugural director, Department of Public Policy, McGeorge School of Law
Kirlin is a political scientist with extensive experience in public policy. His distinguished career includes faculty appointments at the University of Southern California, where he was the Emery E. Olson Professor of Public-Private Entrepreneurship in the School of Administration, and Indiana University, where he was a professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and director of the Center for Urban Policy and the Environment. 

He has served as a consultant to the state of California on matters ranging from species protection to oversight of local government debt and the interface of energy and environmental policies. He was a member of the core team that developed the Delta Plan for the newly created Delta Stewardship Council, and the past executive director of the Delta Vision Foundation. 

Kirlin is the author of some 100 articles, chapters and monographs and 13 books. His honors include election as a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. He earned his undergraduate degree at University of Notre Dame in political science and government and a PhD in political science at UCLA, where he was a Ford Foundation Fellow.

John JonesJohn Jones, interim director, Sacramento Campus
Jones will oversee the management of the campus business operations, including business and grounds, auxiliary enterprises and purchasing, housing, information technology, print shop, payroll and human resources.

Jones has overseen Pacific's Office of Information Technology since last August, managing a division with a staff of about 60 employees.  

Other new hires:

Four staff members from Drexel University Sacramento have joined University of the Pacific and will play key roles in developing student recruitment strategies to expand Pacific's graduate program portfolio:

  • Elizabeth Lambert is the new director of marketing and communications for Enrollment Management
  • Olivia Nash is the university's new director of graduate admission and recruitment
  • Alyse Patterson has been hired as assistant director of graduate admission and recruitment operations
  • Heidi Pyle has been appointed assistant director of graduate admission

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