George Abaunza, a dedicated professor and administrator, started his tenure as Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) at Mount Saint Mary College on Wednesday, July 1.
He was named VPAA in March of this year.
"It is with great enthusiasm and humility that I begin my tenure as the Vice President for Academic Affairs of Mount Saint Mary College," Abaunza said.
"I was drawn to the Mount by its rich history of dedication to the transformation of the lives of its students and its community-service orientation. I look forward to building together with colleagues at the Mount a shared vision for the college's future that leverages its past successes and traditions, within the context of its Liberal Arts mission, to realize the powerful mandate of educating students for the 21st century within a Dominican framework of enduring values."
The Mount's VPAA is responsible for the administration of all academics, including the Mount's School of Business and School of Nursing, as well as the College's six Divisions (Arts and Letters, Education, Math and IT, Natural Sciences, Philosophy and Religious Studies, and Social Sciences).
Abaunza comes to the Mount from Felician University in Lodi, N.J. Over the course of two decades, Abaunza served in many roles at the University, most recently as Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. In addition, he was full professor of Philosophy, and previously Associate Dean of Humanities, as well as Associate Dean for Assessment and Development, in the School of Arts and Sciences, and served as Interim Dean for the School of Education.
Also at Felician University, Abaunza established the first faculty-led study abroad program that brought students to Nicaragua over eight summers to serve clinics, farming cooperatives, orphanages, and schools; led the revision of their current General Education program; helped earn a Felician record $638,000 grant from the National Science Foundation dedicated to scholarships in STEM, as well as a $100,000 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant, the institution's first NEH award; and was the recipient of the Faculty Excellence Award in 2013.
Abaunza earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Florida State University in 2005. His areas of specialization include Philosophy of Education, Social, and Political Philosophy.
The Mount's new VPAA is an accomplished author, having penned several articles and book reviews. He is also a respected speaker, having presented on various philosophical topics at conferences and workshops, nationally and internationally, across the last three decades.
Abaunza is taking over for former Mount VPAA Michael Olivette, who retired from the position on June 30, 2020. Olivette joined the Mount in 2015 as Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and rose to VPAA soon after.