Westminster Welcomes New Executive Leaders

 Converse and mountains

July 9, 2019

Westminster College welcomes new executive leaders this summer who will direct student affairs, diversity, information services, advancement, enrollment, and academics. They join Westminster President Beth Dobkin’s leadership team called President’s Cabinet – 12 leaders from various administrative roles on campus. In her first year at the college, President Dobkin had much to do in filling leadership roles that had been either vacated for new opportunities or were interim positions. The college conducted national searches to fill four of the positions and sought individuals who understand both the enduring value of the liberal arts foundation along with the technical skills that are needed for adaptive and flexible leadership. President Dobkin appointed two positions to existing members of Westminster’s community. The new vice presidents and start-of-service dates are:

  • Peter Greco, vice president and chief information officer, June 1, 2019
  • Erica Johnson, vice president of enrollment management, July 1, 2019
  • Daniel G. Lewis, vice president for advancement, June 24, 2019
  • Karnell McConnell-Black, ME.d., vice president of student affairs and dean of students, July 1, 2019
  • Tamara Stevenson, Ed.D., interim vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion and chief diversity officer, March 1, 2019 
  • Debbie Tahmassebi, Ph.D., provost, July 8, 2019

Peter Greco

Peter Greco, vice president and chief information officer

Peter Greco is the college’s first vice president and chief information officer. Creating a cabinet-level position that focuses on emerging technologies and infrastructure demonstrates the college’s commitment to this important arena.

Greco comes to Westminster from Saint Mary’s College of California, where he has served as chief technology officer since 2012. Prior to that role, he spent 15 years as chief information officer at Regis University in Denver. He has been active in professional organizations such as Educause and is a member of the Leadership Board for CIOs. He holds a Bachelor of Science in computer science/business from Western Oregon University and a Master of Science in management from Regis University.

Throughout his career, Greco has been committed to staff development and team building and has adopted effective practices in inclusive recruiting and conflict management. While at Saint Mary’s, he strengthened IT infrastructure and operation so that technology could become a catalyst for strategic value for the campus. He has worked in both administrative and academic computing applications and services, established institutional governance models and encouraged innovative adoption and use of information technology. Under his leadership, technology governance at Saint Mary’s incorporated both an administrative-computing committee and an educational-technology group comprising faculty invested in research and educational technology and including administration and support of a faculty-technology grant process.

Arikka Johnson

Arikka Johnson, vice president of enrollment management

Arikka Johnson is the college’s new vice president of enrollment management. She comes to Westminster from Lewis & Clark College, where she was associate vice provost for admissions. Johnson has more than 20 years of experience in admissions with a distinguished record in strategic enrollment management, including building admissions teams, implementing and developing customer relations management systems and collaborating across campus on student recruitment and retention.

Johnson is the 2018 recipient of the Pacific Northwest Association for College Admission Counseling (PNACAC) Excellence in Admissions Award and has worked extensively with College Board. She earned a BA in history from Lewis & Clark College and is completing a Master of Education in enrollment management and policy from the University of Southern California.

Daniel G. Lewis

Daniel G. Lewis, vice president for advancement

Daniel G. Lewis will be responsible for leading advancement efforts for the college, working closely with President Beth Dobkin and other senior leaders across campus.

Lewis brings deep experience with and passion for liberal arts colleges to his new role. He most recently served as assistant vice president for development and campaign director for St. Mary’s College of California. Among his responsibilities and accomplishments, Lewis led a $125 million campaign called Defining the Future: The Campaign for St. Mary’s, the college’s most ambitious campaign to date. He brings to the position 21 years of higher education fundraising experience in annual giving, athletic development, principal and major gifts and comprehensive campaigns. Lewis earned a Bachelor of History from St. Mary’s College of California.

Karnell McConnell-Black

Karnell McConnell-Black, ME.d., vice president of student affairs and dean of students

Karnell McConnell-Black joins President’s Cabinet as a permanent member after serving twice as interim dean of students. He came to Westminster in 2011 as the assistant director of student involvement and orientation. Since that time, he has taken on increasing administrative responsibilities and had a substantial, positive impact on the campus, playing key leadership roles in the development of Griffin GearUp, the Bias Education Response Team, integration of student health and wellness across campus, re-establishing the Westminster College Staff Council, fostering student advocacy and promoting student success. Prior to his work at Westminster, McConnell-Black spent seven years in student and academic affairs at Loyola University Chicago.

McConnell-Black has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and a Master of Education in higher education administration from Loyola University Chicago. He is currently pursuing a doctorate of education in higher education administration from the University of Utah. Outside of his campus experiences, McConnell-Black has served on the national board of directors for the Association of Orientation, Transition, and Retention and co-authored the core competencies for OTR professionals in the field. He currently serves on the Utah Pride Center Board of Directors and Utah Human Rights Campaign Steering Committee.

Tamara Stevenson

Tamara Stevenson, Ed.D, interim vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion and chief diversity officer

Tamara Stevenson came to Westminster College in 2012, and since that time, has developed and taught courses in human, organizational and intercultural communication; civil rights discourses and professional writing. Her professional presentations address multiple dynamics of race, gender, power and privilege, and her research includes the study of racialized and gendered experiences of African-American male and female faculty and spans public policy and higher education.

Stevenson has been active in college-wide service, including membership on numerous committees and leadership of initiatives. She also served as faculty fellow for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion from 2015–18. In addition to recognition from external organizations — such as the Emerging Diversity Scholar Award from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor’s National Center for Institutional Diversity — she was honored last month with the college’s Unsung Hero Award. Her academic credentials include a doctorate and specialist of arts degree in educational leadership and a graduate certificate in community college leadership from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan, along with a master’s degree in organizational communication and a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Wayne State University in Detroit.

Debbie Tahmassebi

Debbie Tahmassebi, Ph.D., provost

Debbie Tahmassebi, Ph.D., is Westminster’s new provost – leading the college’s renowned academics that include 13 graduate programs and 39 undergraduate majors in four schools: School of Arts and Sciences, Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business, School of Education and School of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Tahmassebi comes to Westminster after serving as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Santa Clara University since 2015. Prior to that, she served as professor, department chair, associate dean and assistant to the provost at the University of San Diego. Her appointment is effective on July 1, 2019.

As dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Santa Clara, Tahmassebi led the university’s largest academic unit and built a strong track record in diversifying faculty; inspiring interdisciplinary research; advancing undergraduate research and internships; and supporting innovations that include a digital-humanities initiative, artists-in-residence programs and a virtual reality lab. She is a proven fundraiser, both with individual donors and in securing external grants, and has a record of increasing engagement opportunities for those historically underrepresented in STEM.

Tahmassebi’s achievements include a 2012 executive fellowship awarded by the American Council on Education and service awards by the San Diego section of the American Chemical Society, the University of San Diego Parents Association Board and the San Diego Science Alliance Volunteer Partnership for advancing K–12 science education. She has also received over $1 million in funding for her DNA research.

Tahmassebi holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Washington and a BA in chemistry from the University of California at San Diego.