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Dean Brings Outstanding Experience To New Position

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by Carol Best
Abby Hodges, PhD, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Dr. Hodges meets regularly with the chairs of the academic departments in the College of Arts and Sciences
Abby Hodges, PhD, is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at MNU

MNU’s newest Dean is no stranger to the university. Abby Hodges, PhD, has been a chemistry professor at the university since 2014, and since 2018 has served as chair of the Department of Natural, Health and Mathematical Sciences. In July, Hodges was named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In this capacity, the chairs of the Departments of Arts and Humanities, Business Administration, Christian Ministry and Formation, Natural, Health and Mathematical Sciences, Teacher Education, and Social and Behavioral Sciences report to her.

Hodges brings broad teaching, research, and partnership building with a stellar academic background to the position she now holds. A graduate of Yale University with a PhD in organic chemistry, Hodges studies some of the basic principles underlying protein structure which then can have implications for how proteins function when systems are healthy and in disease states. She has numerous research publications, has presented this research extensively, and holds an international patent.

Prior to teaching at MNU, Hodges taught chemistry and was assistant department chair for biology and chemistry at Azusa Pacific University in California. Her MNU students give Hodges high praise for her instructional talent and relational mentoring.

Sienna Schmidt is a 2022 graduate of MNU in biology who is continuing her education at the graduate level at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, with plans to become a physician’s assistant.

“In every class I had with Dr. Hodges, she linked her contagious passion for academic content with her love of watching students thrive in the classroom and beyond,” Schmidt says. “She knows how to create a positive, motivating environment for everyone.”

Hodges’ extensive academic work has led to new programming, innovative partnerships, and quality enhancements across university departments. She has integrated coursework linking subjects such as public speaking with history, and theology/worldview with human genetics. She has revised curriculum and piloted programs to enhance freshmen students’ success and faculty development. Her re-envisioning of the kinesiology major at MNU has resulted in a curriculum that emphasizes health and wellness, streamlines course offerings, and allow for greater degree specialization and flexibility.

Among many relationships as a mentor and advisor, Hodges has assisted applicants for Fulbright, Rhodes, and Marshall Fellowships including an MNU semifinalist. She has supervised students researching scientific projects at MNU and through partnerships with the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC), Kansas State University and at Azuza Pacific University. Her ongoing partnership with the Swint-Kruse lab at KUMC continues to give exceptional research opportunities to the brightest MNU science majors.

To say Hodges’ experience, skills and connections are impressive is putting it mildly, as attested by Vice President for Academic Affairs Nancy Damron, PhD.

“Most undergraduate students do not have the opportunity to do research at the level that our students have because of Dr. Hodges. These projects are usually for graduate-level students, but due to her contacts and oversight, our students gain incredible experience,”
Nancy Damron, PhD
Vice President for Academic Affairs

Her task ahead as Dean will take cooperation and innovation. Damron says Hodges is more than ready for the challenge.

“Abby is a master teacher and administrator, poised to offer creative leadership as dean,” Damron says. “Her vision for the College of Arts and Sciences and the reimaging of our liberal arts core will advance our students, elevate MNU, and continue our tradition of innovation and excellence. We are all privileged to work with her.”

For more information on majors in the College of Arts and Sciences at MNU, visit mnu.edu/academic-departments.

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