Progress toward MNU’s strategic plan was made this summer with the hiring of Dr. Rick Hanson (’88) as associate vice president for academic and professional success. Hanson is leading the development of the Center for Academic and Professional Success, which is part of MNU’s strategic work toward delivering excellence and building resources for MNU students, alumni, faculty and staff.

RIck Hanson for Newsroom

The new unit is tasked with creating services and resources that support academic success, career services and faculty/staff development. Under Hanson’s direction, the center will also create personal development opportunities for students resulting in a stronger academic experience and relevant preparation for professional roles. An expansion of the existing learning center is occurring this fall with the hiring of a full-time writing specialist, Kara Bollinger. Another new student resource—a math specialist--will be hired soon.

Hanson has a long history of helping students discover their gifts, talents and passions as the director of the Counseling Center at Rockhurst University for the last 14 years. Prior to earning his Doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Michigan State University, he served MNU as a resident educator, an assistant football coach and an instructor in psychology and physical education. Hanson says it was his work at MNU that ignited his desire for a career in higher education.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to come back to MNU and be engaged in something meaningful to me in an area I’ve been actively involved in for 20 years,” he says. “These activities are the right things to put in place at MNU anyway. But the funding we have from the Title III grant allows us to do it well and with excellence.” 

Hanson is married to Kim (Haller ’88). They have three children, Melody (20), and twins Michael and Jonathan (18).

These activities are supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Title III Strengthening Institutions Program; 78% is Federally-funded and 22% is non-Federally funded over the 5-year project period.