College Leadership

Interim Dean of the college

Dr. David Fields
Interim Dean, College of Professional Studies

Dr. David Fields serves as the Interim Dean of the College of Professional Studies, named in 2021, leading all academic and administrative functions of the college.

Dr. Fields formerly served as Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs; he was responsible for the quality, growth and innovation across all academic and operational aspects of the professional programs portfolio, consisting of nearly 100 undergraduate and graduate certificates and degrees, delivered online and among multiple global campuses. His responsibilities also included fostering industry partnerships to strengthen opportunities for learners. He played a critical role in growing Northeastern University’s global network—serving as the primary liaison for the global network campuses and working with the dean of the College of Professional Studies to grow the university’s network and its priority programs.  Central to his role was his leadership of graduate and undergraduate faculty and staff to call them together around a shared purpose to inspire and empower thousands of learners to achieve their potential to improve the world. 

Previously, Dr. Fields served as Director of Global Student Success at Northeastern. He has also held teaching and advising positions along with roles focused on career development and supporting the community college leadership pipeline.

Prior to joining Northeastern University, Dr. Fields served in a research post at the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College. He has served in multiple roles working for both private and public institutions and has developed and taught both online and on-ground courses at Michigan State University, the University of San Diego, Emmanuel College and Boston College.

Dr. Fields holds a PhD in Higher Education Administration from Boston College and a MEd in Student Affairs Administration from Michigan State University.


To view the full organizational chart, click here.

Dr. Corliss Thompson
Special Assistant to the Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Corliss Thompson, Ph.D. serves as special assistant to the Dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, responsible for coordination across the college, with faculty and staff who are working to address DEI issues related to the student experience, curriculum, and the workplace culture for faculty and staff.  Her prior work in diversity, equity and inclusion includes consulting with leaders in in higher education, non-profits and corporations. She has led workshops and spoken to a wide range of audiences on systemic oppression, implicit bias, and action planning for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Dr. Thompson has presented on issues of social justice at academic conferences and practitioner gatherings. Dr. Thompson volunteers her DEI expertise in her community and has focused on issues of equity in her scholarship, including a  National Science Foundation grant to spur more underrepresented students’ interest in STEM fields.

She is a Teaching Professor and Assistant Dean in the Graduate School of Education and has served on the faculty since 2013. She has taught research methods, research design, and social justice courses. Dr. Thompson has been involved with NExT, the Global Network of Experiential Educators, at Northeastern since its inception. Dr. Thompson is passionate about using culturally relevant and experiential approaches in her teaching and mentoring, and she also uses research methodology and program evaluation approaches for deeper understanding and improvement of teaching and learning as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Before becoming a faculty member, Dr. Thompson worked in a research and evaluation office in a school district and at the University of North Carolina, where she earned her doctoral degree. She also was an elementary school teacher in Charlotte and Chapel Hill, NC. 

Dr. Thompson holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Dr. Patrick F. Plunkett
Senior Associate Dean, Global Engagement; Executive Director, Northeastern University Global 

Dr. Patrick F. Plunkett serves as senior associate dean for global engagement and executive director of Northeastern University (NU) Global, advocating and coordinating international programs, advising the dean on international issues, and providing administrative oversight of the University’s international affiliations and contracts.

Dr. Plunkett formerly served for two years as the acting dean of the University’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences. He led the college through a period of transformational change by integrating 137 full-time faculty, 38 academic programs, and five research centers, previously housed in two separate colleges, into one college. Before becoming acting dean, Dr. Plunkett served for nine years as the associate dean for academic affairs in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences. For seven years, he directed the University’s Minority High School Student Research Apprentice Program.

Dr. Plunkett holds an EdD in higher education administration from Northeastern University, a MS in physiology from Rivier College and an AB in biology from Saint Anselm College. He completed the Management Development Program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

Michael Gladstone
Senior Associate Dean for Administration, Finance and Business Planning

Michael Gladstone serves as senior associate dean for administration, finance and business planning for the College of Professional Studies, named in 2014. As chief financial officer, he is responsible for budget and finance, campus facilities, and information technology.

Mr. Gladstone has held numerous positions at Northeastern University, including roles in central administration and teaching as an adjunct instructor in the College’s Information Technology Program.

Prior to joining Northeastern University, Mr. Gladstone held various management positions in the private sector. He holds a BS in business administration with a concentration in management from Salem State College and an MBA from Northeastern University and completed the Management Leadership in Education Program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

Dr. Molly Smith 
Associate Dean, Opportunity Pathway Programs

Dr. Molly Smith leads the Opportunity Pathway Programs in the College of Professional Studies, named in 2018, building pathways and partnerships that advance opportunities for learners.

The Opportunity Pathway Programs division works with the university to create, deepen, and broaden undergraduate pathways and partnerships at Northeastern. In collaboration with community-based and industry partners, Dr. Smith and her team utilize asset-based advising models and academic curricula that meet learners’ immediate needs while building the competencies needed to be successful in 21st century educational and career environments.

Dr. Smith was the founding director of the Foundation Year program and has extensive experience designing programs for first-year college students and nontraditional student populations. Prior to joining Northeastern, she worked as the associate director of teacher education at Rutgers University. She earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. Her research interests include higher education access, persistence, and attainment of first-generation and nontraditional students.

Joe Griffin
Interim Associate Dean, Academic and Faculty Affairs and the Graduate School of Education

Dr. Joseph Griffin serves as the Interim Senior Associate Dean of Academic and Faculty Affairs for the Professional Programs and the Graduate School of Education

 in Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies, where he also holds a faculty appointment as an associate teaching professor in project management.

Dr. Griffin formerly served in a variety of roles within the university’s Chancellor’s Office and College of Professional Studies including as the Vice Chancellor of Educational Innovation, the Associate Vice President of Business Development, and Acting Vice Chancellor of Regional Campuses within the Office of the Chancellor. He also served as Associate Dean of Partnership & Engagement and as faculty director for graduate programs in analytics, informatics, and project management.

Prior to joining Northeastern, Dr. Griffin worked in an array of project-oriented roles within the construction, land development, and real estate industry.

Dr. Griffin holds a doctorate in Workplace Leadership and Ethics from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Master’s of Project Management from Western Carolina University, and an MBA from Lenoir-Rhyne University. 

Karen Phillips
Associate Dean for the Student Experience

Dr. Karen Phillips serves as the Associate Dean for the Student Experience at the College of Professional Studies, named in 2019, providing strategic leadership and management for the learner experience for all students across the college.

Dr. Phillips supervises the Academic Advising and Learner Services teams and collaborates with academic and administrative leaders both in the college and across the university to increase student retention and satisfaction, including the retention and academic progress of first-generation students, international students, and underrepresented students.

Prior to joining Northeastern, Dr. Phillips was Assistant Dean for the graduate student experience and services at the Boston University Questrom School of Business, where she oversaw graduate program management, academic advising, registrar, financial aid and career advising. At Hult International School of Business in Cambridge, Mass., she was Associate Dean of Student Affairs and the MBA Program Dean, working in collaboration with Hult’s campuses in Dubai, London, San Francisco and Shanghai while the school grew by 33%.

Dr. Phillips holds an EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership from the University of Southern California, an MS in College Student Development and Counseling from Northeastern and a BS in Health Policy & Management from Providence College.

Allison Ruda
Associate Dean of Curriculum Strategy and Product Innovation 

Dr. Allison Ruda serves as Associate Dean of Curriculum Strategy and Product Innovation, named in 2019, leading curriculum and program-wide assessment strategy for the College of Professional Studies. Dr. Ruda collaborates with faculty and academic leadership to develop and scale educational innovations that serve a wide range of learners. She is involved in university-wide initiatives focusing on modular learning design, micro-credentialing, and AI-enhanced skills mapping. Dr. Ruda leads the college’s Academic Quality unit which focuses on data-driven, continuous improvement planning, program evaluation and reporting, and coordinated faculty development. She works with centralized teams and academic units across Northeastern to advance key initiatives including the university’s digital badging implementation, the learning management system transition, and the lifelong learning platform strategy.

With two decades of experience in the learning design and ed tech field, Dr. Ruda has collaborated with academic researchers, practitioners, technologists, and industry leaders around the shared goal of expanding access to experiential education. Prior to Northeastern, Dr. Ruda worked at Emerson College, Regis College and Harvard University and produced educational media for non-profit clients on a freelance basis.

Dr. Ruda holds an EdD in Curriculum, Learning, Teaching & Leadership from Northeastern, a MEd in Technology, Innovation, and Education from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Mount Holyoke College.

Sean Gallagher
Assistant Clinical Professor and Executive Director – Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy

Dr. Sean Gallagher is the founder and Executive Director of Northeastern University’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy and Executive Professor of Educational Policy.

Dr. Gallagher joined Northeastern in 2009 and is a nationally recognized expert with nearly 20 years of experience in higher education. As Chief Strategy Officer for Northeastern’s Professional Advancement Network, he built a central strategy function unique among universities, working across colleges and academic domains to launch growth initiatives including the development of new campuses and degree programs.

Prior to joining Northeastern, Dr. Gallagher worked for Eduventures for a decade, advising executives at hundreds of universities and education companies, as well as investors. His writing and commentary have been featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and CBS Television. His book, The Future of University Credentials: New Developments at the Intersection of Higher Education and Hiring, was published in 2016 by Harvard Education Press.

Dr. Gallagher holds an EdD from Northeastern University, an MBA from the New York Institute of Technology and a BS in Marketing from Northeastern.

Dan Lebowitz
Director of Sport in Society

Dan Lebowitz has served as Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society since 2008.

Under Mr. Lebowitz’s leadership, the center’s work has ranged from a partnership with the National Football League around sexual harassment prevention to a solidified position as one of the most sought-after resources for capacity-building and leadership education to sport and social change organizations. The center has also done primary violence prevention work with Major League Baseball, the U.S. military, the Boston Police Department and other community-engagement entities involved in positive youth development and normative culture change.

Mr. Lebowitz has extensive experience in the design, development and implementation of educational and employment programs aimed at opening opportunities for urban youth and the many underserved and diverse populations of Boston. He has worked in and managed many such programs, including Brandeis University’s Transitional Year Program, the Waltham Group, Upward Bound, the City of Boston Employment and Economic Policy Administration, the Boston Private Industry Council’s Boston Compact Initiative and Summer Jobs Program and the Department of Transitional Assistance’s Housing and Housing Services Division for the Homeless.

Mr. Lebowitz holds an MEd in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University and a BA in Political Science/Urban Studies from Brandeis University.

Peggy Hayes
Director of Communications

Peggy Hayes is the Director of Communications at the College of Professional Studies, responsible for digital, social and print communications strategy and management, including the college’s website. She manages internal communications with faculty and staff on behalf of the Dean of the College and publications ranging from the annual faculty brochure to the alumni newsletter.

Prior to joining Northeastern University in 2011, Ms. Hayes held two positions in higher education. At Harvard University, she was Director of Communications for the Harvard University Allston Development Group, which led physical planning, community relations and construction for the university’s expansion in the Allston neighborhood of the city of Boston. At Tufts University, she managed health sciences communications for the Tufts University health sciences campus in Boston including the Medical School, the Dental School, the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Previously, she worked in public relations in New York for two national firms: Burson-Marsteller and Ketchum, and on the staff of a U.S. Senator in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Hayes holds an MS in Corporate and Organizational Communication from Northeastern and a BA in English from Vassar College.

Dagmar Whitaker
Assistant Dean of Administration and Employee Experience

Dagmar Whitaker serves as head of the Human Resources, Administration and Employee Experience in the College of Professional Studies. Named to the position in 2019, she oversees all human resources (HR) functions and initiatives for staff and faculty and provides full-cycle HR support for the college.

A passionate advocate for positive impact, keeping employees engaged and enhancing creativity and diversity in a workplace, Ms. Whitaker collaborates with the Dean, business partners in Human Resources Management, and the Office of the General Counsel to provide strategic direction related to the role of HR within the college. She is responsible for addressing all employee relations matters and assists in other areas of college administration, including academic human resources, faculty experience, employee engagement, process improvement and design, and workforce planning and development. She is also actively involved in various professional working groups within the college and the university helping to enhance employee satisfaction, experience and learning.

Prior to joining Northeastern University, Ms. Whitaker held various HR positions in education, including at Boston University, Foreign Service Institute, and Charles University in Prague.

Ms. Whitaker holds a BA in Humanities and Social Sciences and an MA in International Relations and Diplomacy from Anglo-American University in Prague. She is an active member of various HR professional organizations such as Society of Human Resource Management, Northeast HR Association, HR Certification Institute and Human Capital Institute, and she holds several HR professional certifications.