Meet the new Dean of Marymount’s College of Health and Education

New College of Health and Education Dean at Marymount


Marymount University welcomed Dr. Pamela Slaven-Lee in June 2023 as the new Dean of the College of Health and Education. With her vision and leadership, she hopes to propel students, faculty and staff towards continued success while simultaneously upholding the University’s mantra ‘Learn with Purpose’ through all of the College’s initiatives.

What was your career path before Marymount?

I actually was a nurse for 24 years, serving as a family nurse practitioner for 19 of those years. I started out as a clinician in rural Maine on the campus of a very small hospital in Machias. I probably never would have left Maine if I hadn’t married into the military, to my husband who is an active-duty Marine. Several military moves later, I ended up in the DMV area and just so happened to do some of my dissertation work on military families, which led to me working at Uniformed Services University — that’s how I ended up in academe. I took on several positions in academic leadership at other universities in the DMV area, and then finally I took on the deanship here at Marymount. I’m just incredibly fortunate to find myself in this position at such an incredible school.

What three words best describe you?

I think the three words that describe me are perseverance, humility and caring. I think humility is probably the most important leadership characteristic — you’ve got to be willing, in any type of leadership situation, to reflect upon how you’re contributing to either the success or the failure. And I think the College of Health and Education, and our four Schools — Counseling, Education, Health Sciences and Nursing — are all caring professions. Having the opportunity to be the Dean of this College, I hope I can be a great steward of all the opportunities here and help empower our fantastic directors and faculty to provide the best educational experience for all the students here.

What is something surprising that is not on your résumé?

I’m very proud that my family started the Wreaths Across America organization about 30 years ago, and I’m very proud of my parents for their continued sustained work on that. I’m probably the only member of my immediate family who’s not very involved in the work of Wreaths Across America on a daily basis.

How do you define success at an academic institution?

I define success when those that I’m leading and those that I’m teaching don’t need me anymore. When I can step back and say “these students understand it, these faculty and staff understand it, they really get it,” and they’ve achieved a level of confidence such that they don’t need my help anymore. That’s what I’ve always found to be the most satisfying part of leading a team, teaching students or helping to manage or lead is when I’m not needed anymore and I’m able to step on to the next thing.

What drove your passion for higher education?

When I did some dissertation work on military families, I started to realize that research, teaching and learning really did have a direct impact on families and their lives. It was really meaningful to people — it wasn’t just academic work that was helping you achieve an academic goal, finish a course or program of study, or attain a degree. This really cemented for me that I wanted to have a career in higher education. So I began as a faculty member and found that I enjoyed the academic piece of it, doing administrative work and creating an atmosphere and culture where those around me could be successful. I found this to be more satisfying than achieving the goal myself — creating the circumstances for others to be successful. That’s really what drives me and why I like administration in higher education so much.

What has been one of your proudest professional moments in your career?

There are many moments when I’ve had the opportunity to teach students hands-on in the simulation lab. When you do that, you can teach them skill sets, assessments and certain maneuvers which help interpret what they’re seeing and hearing. Then, you put them in the lab space and I get to step on the other side of the curtain. My proudest moments are when I am standing on the other side and I watch them execute, and I watch the light come on. At the same time, I enjoy helping teach other faculty how to do that and watch them experience the same level of satisfaction that I was able to experience.

What do you hope to bring to Marymount as the new Dean of the College of Health and Education?

I certainly couldn’t say that I’m going to come here and make things great, because it’s already amazing. There is something palpable about the faculty and staff — they’re so dedicated to the students, to each other and to the model of ‘Learn with Purpose.’ Everything here is very intentional already with the mission of the school, the values-driven education and faith-based institution. My goal is to really help continue that and secure the resources for them to help make it possible.

We have four amazing school directors in our College of Health and Education, and one goal for me is to really help them fulfill the mission of the school and help them think beyond what they’re doing right now. I also hope to provide the support that they need — same thing with the students that are coming to me. I have the opportunity to meet with several students a week, who are asking “how do I make this happen” or “help me understand this.” It’s just really helping students get from point A to point B and helping our College secure the resources to make that happen. I think my job as a Dean always boils down to three things — resources, vision and culture. I hope to really cultivate those things here at the College of Health and Education for the greater good of the school and the community.

Any additional comments?

I’m just privileged and blessed to be here. Throughout the course of our careers, there are lots of twists and lots of turns — but every step along the way prepares us for the next step, so I feel I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. We have fantastic directors, faculty and staff, and I feel like even though I’ve been here just a very short time, we’re really starting to gel together and complement each other’s strengths.

I’m so excited for the next year and working on some strategic planning. I’m embarking on a listening tour, where I’m literally meeting with every single member of the faculty and staff one-on-one to see what’s working and what’s not, as well as see what their vision is for the College of Health and Education for the next year. This will inform our College-level strategic planning, and it’s going to be an exciting time for us.