Elmhurst College officially welcomed April Edwards as the College’s new vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty during a ceremony on Monday, February 6.
Selected in a nationwide search, Edwards currently is the interim vice president for academic affairs and dean of Ursinus College, a selective liberal arts college in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. She will begin her new position at Elmhurst College in June.
During his welcome remarks, Elmhurst College President Troy D. VanAken noted Edwards’ impressive administrative and academic qualifications, but was particularly struck by something she did when she visited campus during her interview process. They were attending the traditional late-night, pre-final exams breakfast for students when President VanAken noticed that Edwards had put on an apron and was serving breakfast in his place.
“She got it—she got that this is a place where we do whatever it takes to help students reach their full potential,” he said. He also complimented her commitment to supporting faculty scholarship and development, as well as her energy and strong work ethic. “She wants to be deeply engaged in the campus community—that’s important, and fits into our ‘work hard, play hard’ philosophy.”
Edwards brings a wealth of experience to the position, having spent the last 13 years in a variety of academic and administrative leadership roles at Ursinus. She chaired the Faculty Governance Committee for more than seven years, and served as faculty liaison to the Board of Trustees and as a representative on the Promotion and Tenure Committee. Before joining Ursinus, Edwards worked for more than a decade for Electronic Data Systems, an information technology consulting company.
It was during her career as a computer scientist that she began to delve into great literature, history, philosophy and the arts. It also was when she made the decision to leave the corporate world because “she missed intellectual stimulation,” said Mary Kay Mulvaney, director of the Honors Program at Elmhurst College and co-chair of the search committee for the vice president for academic affairs. After joining the faculty at Ursinus, Edwards became convinced that all the components of a liberal arts education, including critical thinking, analytical, problem solving and communication skills, are imperative for all students regardless of career path. This philosophy, as well as Edwards’ commitment to faculty development and “high impact practices” such as undergraduate research, internships, study abroad and service learning, made her a great fit for Elmhurst College, Mulvaney said.
Edwards’ remarks focused on what she learned about Elmhurst College during the search process, and how impressed she was by the level of collaboration and engagement she saw. She noticed it first among the search committee members, then later on campus, where she thought it “phenomenal” that two dozen students attended one of her interview sessions.
“Throughout the day I got the sense that everyone—faculty, students, staff, administrators— was poised for the next step” in Elmhurst’s history, she said. “What more could an academic administrator ask for?”
In closing, she encouraged everyone to keep her apprised of campus news and activities in the coming months, and said she was thrilled about becoming a Bluejay.