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Paving the way for adult learners

We exist to provide you with a way to achieve your dream. Through our innovative online programs, we’re continually reshaping higher education for working adults like you

University mission

The mission of Capella University is to extend access to high-quality bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, doctoral, and certificate programs for adults who seek to maximize their personal and professional potential. This mission is fulfilled through innovative programs that are responsive to the needs of adult learners and involve active, engaging, challenging, and relevant learning experiences offered in a variety of delivery modes.

Educational philosophy

At Capella University, we believe education transforms people’s lives and society—immediately and permanently. The innovative, intentionally designed competency-based education we offer enables adult learners to meet challenges in their careers, lead and make new contributions in their disciplines, and reach their professional and personal goals. Our educational pathways respect existing expertise and allow learners to focus on what is essential as they gain new competencies and expand on those they already have. The credentials they earn are signs of the professional relevancy, quality, and immediate applicability of their educational experience at Capella University and help to create new opportunities in the future. As partners in their education, we proudly serve the lifelong learning ambitions that allow our learners, alumni, their many communities, and our broader society to thrive.

Diversity and inclusion statement

Capella University believes that a diverse learning community is vital to achieving our mission of extending access to higher education. We believe that attracting, engaging, and supporting diverse learners, faculty, and staff strengthens our university. Capella values human potential and is committed to being an inclusive and culturally competent institution. Capella strives to promote equity within and beyond our community through intentional actions and the transformative exchange of ideas.

University Leadership

Richard Senese, PhD, LP

Capella University President

Dr. Richard (Dick) Senese serves as the President of Capella University. Prior to returning to Capella in 2014, Dr. Senese served in leadership roles with the University of Minnesota Extension for 13 years. He most recently served as the Extension's Senior Associate Dean, where he oversaw research, program evaluation, international partnerships, and faculty development, among other responsibilities. Prior to his promotion to Senior Associate Dean, he served as the founding Associate Dean for the Center for Community Vitality. He has taught at a number of Minnesota-based institutions, including St. Olaf College, Metropolitan State University, and the College of St. Scholastica, and served previously as the Associate Dean for Capella University's Harold Abel School of Psychology.

Dr. Senese received his PhD from the University of Minnesota through the Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology program with the Department of Educational Psychology. He is a licensed psychologist and active in community affairs in his native Minnesota.

Andrew (Andy) E. Watt

President, US Higher Education, Strategic Education, Inc.

Andrew E. Watt has been with the company since 2002.  He previously served as Chief Operating Officer for Strategic Education and Sr. Vice President of Post-Secondary Education for Capella Education Company.  Prior to that, Andy held roles in the Capella organization as Vice President Colleges and University Operations, Chief Operations Officer and Vice President and General Manager for the College of Business, Technology and Undergraduate Studies, where he led a team of Deans, Market Directors, and Enrollment and Advising leaders to develop and deliver high quality, highly differentiated programs for our learners.  Additionally, Andy has held a variety of leadership positions across the Capella organization, including roles in operations, finance, analytics and the markets & products team.

Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Watt worked in transaction advisory services at both Deloitte & Touche LLP and Arthur Andersen LLP.

Constance St. Germain, EdD, JD

Provost & Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs

Constance St. Germain, Ed.D., J.D. joined Capella University in 2017 and serves as the Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. She is responsible for leading the university in achieving superior outcomes and impact. In her position, St. Germain provides leadership, in collaboration with other university stakeholders, on all aspects related to accreditation, faculty affairs, institutional policy, curriculum & programs, academic success and assessment.

Prior to joining Capella, she was the Executive Dean for the University of Phoenix, where she had strategic, operational and P&L responsibility for faculty, students, and ground campuses across the country and online. St. Germain began her academic career in at American Public University System where for over a decade she held various positions of increasing leadership from faculty to program director to Dean, School of Public Service and Health.

In addition, St. Germain is a U.S. Army veteran, where she served as a major in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. While on active duty, she held assignments as an attorney at military posts including the 82D Airborne Division and XVIII Airborne Corps Fort Bragg, NC.

St. Germain has authored numerous articles, presented at national conferences and served as an expert in the media on a wide range of issues facing both the workforce and higher education related to leadership, gender equality, mental health, food security, student outcomes, humanities study, and the law. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Chief Academic Officers (ACAO) and the YWCA, Minneapolis.

St. Germain received her Doctor of Education (EdD) in higher education and organizational change from Benedictine University; her Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Baltimore School of Law; and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) from George Mason University. She is admitted to practice as an attorney in Vermont, Virginia and Maryland, as well as several federal courts. St. Germain’s research focus is on women and leadership.

Charlyn Hilliman, PhD, MPA

Vice President, Academic Enrichment and Learner Support

Dr. Hilliman has worked for the university since 2006, having served on the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and as a scientific merit reviewer; a residency instructor; a subject matter expert in research, criminal justice, and public administration; and the comprehensive examination lead. Most recently Dr. Hilliman served as the dean of the School of Public Service Leadership and faculty chair for the Capella University’s public administration degree programs. Dr. Hilliman also spent her career in health care information technology leadership at Columbia University and Florida International University, and has worked as a director of community programs evaluations and policy initiatives for the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Hilliman holds both a PhD and Master of Philosophy in Criminal Justice from the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), as well as a Master of Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY.

Barbara Butts Williams, PhD

Executive Dean, Social Responsibility & Community Engagement

Barbara Butts Williams, PhD, joined Capella in 2002 and currently leads the university’s social responsibility and community engagement strategy. She is also Dean Emerita, School of Business and Technology and previously served as Executive Dean of External Relations & Partnerships, Dean, School of Business and Technology, and Dean, School of Education.  

Prior to joining Capella, Dr. Butts Williams worked with Growth Partners Consulting, the St. Paul Companies, Wilson Learning Corporation, Control Data Corporation, and the University of Michigan’s Graduate School of Business.  Her community service work involves leadership roles or membership on non-profit and private boards including Allina Health Systems, Metropolitan Economic Development Association, Minnesota’s Sports Facilities Authority, MN Chapter National Association of Corporate Directors, and Capella University’s School of Business, Technology and Health Care Administration Advisory Board.   

Dr. Butts Williams has received numerous awards and recognitions throughout her career.  She has served as an adjunct faculty, guest lecturer, keynote speaker, panelist and workshop leader at various universities, corporate events, and conferences.  In addition, she has served as an advisor at several universities including, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, and Harvard University.

Tom Sonnek, MFA

Director, Continuous Quality Improvement

Tom Sonnek currently serves as the Director of Continuous Quality Improvement at Capella University, after serving in several leadership roles related to learner experience and operational improvements since joining the University in 2014.  In this role, Mr. Sonnek is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the execution of University functions toward improving learner achievement and experience.

Mr. Sonnek has a wide range of experience in production and quality control in for-profit, non-profit, and retail sectors, and he holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Indiana University, Bloomington.


Lisa Kreeger, PhD

Dean, School of Nursing and Health Sciences

Dr. Lisa Kreeger held a number of positions at Capella before assuming the role of dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. She began in School of Business and Technology as a member of the Institutional Review Board before joining the School of Nursing and Health Science as a faculty member, program chair, and interim dean. Kreeger brings a combination of academic and health care industry experience building from her roots as a clinical nurse. Her career includes consulting and management positions with large international corporations where she focused on change, strategy, innovation, and leadership excellence and faculty and academic leadership positions at a large private university and an online university.  Kreeger holds a BSN from DePaul university, an MSN from Drexel University, an MBA from Seattle University, and a PhD with a focus on leadership and change in organizations from Antioch University.

Joshua Stanley, EdD

Dean, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Joshua Stanley serves as dean for the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Capella University. Prior to this role, he served as interim assistant dean for the counselor education and family therapy programs and faculty chair for school counseling and addiction studies. He has also served as core faculty in the counselor education program specializing in school counseling. Before coming to Capella in 2014, Dr. Stanley held a number of positions in K-12 education, including serving as an elementary school counselor, secondary school counselor, school counseling program specialist, and finally as coordinator of high school intervention and transition services with the Tennessee Department of Education.

He is passionate about the importance of increasing access to high quality mental health services in both urban and rural communities, reducing the stigma surrounding mental health, and advancing the profession of school counseling. Currently, Dr. Stanley serves on the board of the Florida School Counselor Association, and he is a past president of the Tennessee School Counselor Association.

Dr. Stanley holds a Doctor of Education degree in counselor education and supervision from Argosy University Nashville. His master’s degree in counseling and bachelor’s degree in psychology were earned at Austin Peay State University. Dr. Stanley is a licensed school counselor and holds the national certified counselor and approved clinical supervisor credentials.

Jennifer Straub, PhD

Interim Dean, School of Business, Technology, and Health Care Administration

Dr. Jennifer Straub serves as interim dean for the School of Business, Technology, and Health Care Administration. Dr. Straub received her Ph.D. in Pharmacology/Neuroscience Research from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 2004. She then pursued her Post-Doctoral Studies in Neuroscience and Cancer Biology at the University of Vermont, where she researched the genetic etiology of the pediatric cancer Neuroblastoma. As a graduate and post-doctoral student, she was selected to speak at several conferences for her research, including the Keystone Symposia and Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Conference. Dr. Straub’s experiences in higher education include teaching both undergraduate and graduate studies, including the graduate Molecular Neurobiology course at the Marine Biological Laboratory, and undergraduate Health Sciences, Biology, and Liberal Arts/General Education courses at Eastern Connecticut State University, Johnson State College, Kaplan University, and the University of Phoenix.

Dr. Straub has been with Capella University since 2010; prior to her current role she served as chair and dean of the Division of Arts and Sciences, and taught undergraduate learners in the field of Biology. In her leadership roles, Dr. Straub has led several university-wide projects, including a remote, undergraduate faculty conference.

Heather Welzant, PhD

Dean, School of Public Service and Education

Dr. Heather Welzant serves as dean for the School of Public Service and Education. She has over 18 combined experience educating and training adult learners in both educational and business arenas. Further, she brings 12 years of higher education teaching experience; both traditional and online. Her research interests are with faculty and student performance relevant to online teaching and learning. Dr. Welzant also held a variety of academic leadership roles at numerous institutions. Most recently, she was the Vice President, Academic Affairs Online for Argosy University. She had other leadership roles at University of Maryland University College (UMUC) and Laureate Education and she has been a faculty member and dissertation mentor at UMUC, Walden and the University of Phoenix.

Dr. Welzant holds a PhD in Education with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement from Capella University.

Board of Trustees

Mark Brown, MBA

Mark joined the board in 2018. Mark is a former chief financial officer at Strayer Education, Inc. and former vice chair of the Strayer University Board of Trustees. Before those roles, he was chief financial officer of The Kantar Group, the information and consultancy division of WPP Group, the multi-national communications services company. Prior to that, for nearly 12 years Mark held a variety of management positions at PepsiCo Inc. including director of corporate planning for Pepsi Bottling Group and business unit chief financial officer for Pepsi-Cola International. He began his career as a Certified Public Accountant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Brown holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Duke University and a MBA from Harvard University.

Adrian Butler, DM

Adrian Butler is Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Casey’s General Stores, Inc. This is a newly created role designed to lead the effort to advance next generation technology at the fourth largest convenience retailer in the US.

Prior to joining Casey’s, Adrian was senior vice president and CIO at DineEquity, Inc. parent company of the IHOP and Applebee’s restaurant chains. In that role, he was responsible for Information Technology (IT) transformation and strategy, innovation, and technology delivery as well as building and enhancing the organization’s digital, mobile, social-media and data capabilities focused on growing the business and enhancing the guest experience.

Adrian joined Casey’s with over 25 years of progressive leadership experience in IT which began while serving as an officer in the United States Air Force, leaving as a Captain. Following that he worked in IT across several industries including financial services/insurance, hospitality, and retail.

Throughout his career, Adrian has been recognized for outstanding leadership and performance, and was awarded Officer of the Year honors at both the organizational and Air Force base level, as well as various organizational and industry awards once his military career ended, including being named one of the Premier 100 IT Leaders by Computerworld magazine.

Adrian earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Grambling State University, a master’s degree from Embry Riddle University, and a doctorate degree from University of Maryland.

Diane H. Dayson, PhD, SES

Dr. Diane H. Dayson is senior core faculty in the School of Nursing and Heath Sciences at Capella University; she was appointed faculty trustee to the Board in June 2020. She joined Capella in 2011 as an adjunct professor and since then has participated in several pilot programs; taught at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels; served as dissertation mentor; served on the Faculty Review Panel, and supervised teaching assistants. She has received the Stephen Shank Recognition for teaching and mentoring excellence several times and in 2018 received the Harold Abel Distinguished Faculty Award for core faculty who have made outstanding contributions to the university.

Prior to joining Capella, Dr. Dayson worked for the US Department of the Interior, National Park Service for 28 years as a commissioned federal law enforcement park ranger and in park management positions including executive director and superintendent at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Monument and National Park Service Ambassador. Dr. Dayson has served on many local, state, and federal level committees to support goals and mission of the National Park Service including the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.

In addition to her work with the National Park Service, she was program director for a small non-profit organization in New York City and was responsible for providing guidance and support to encourage inner-city at-risk youth to remain focused on education in spite of their environments.  Dayson also served as adjunct professor at Robert Wagner School at New York University for 10 years, where she taught graduate-level leadership and human resources courses.

Dayson earned a BA in Early Secondary Education and American History from SUNY at Cortland, an MS in Management and Leadership from New York University, and a PhD in Public Policy and Administration from Walden University. She is a graduate of the Senior Executive Service (SES) program at the US Department of Interior University. The SES program provided an opportunity to participate, as student, in the Brookings Institute, Wharton School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, and the JFK School of Government at Harvard University; to actively engage in the offices of the Director of the Bureau of Land Management, the Director of National Park Service, and the Secretary of the Interior; and to testify on Capitol Hill.

Eric Jolly, PhD

Capella University Board President

Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D., is President and CEO of the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation. He joined the organization in 2015 after 10 years as president of the Science Museum of Minnesota. Before that, Jolly served as vice president and senior scientist at the Education Development Center in Massachusetts. His career began with successive academic roles in several colleges and universities, including professor, dean, assistant chancellor, and director for Affirmative Action and Diversity. Jolly serves on a number of local and national boards and is widely recognized for his work with communities and policy makers. He has published articles and books and has lectured around the world about the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. The consistent thread woven throughout Jolly’s vast career is the belief that all humans deserve a life filled with dignity and opportunity.

Jolly has a doctorate in psychology and a master’s degree in psychometrics from the University of Oklahoma.

Christopher King, PhD

Christopher J. King is a healthcare executive, educator, researcher and fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. As a senior fellow of the American Hospital Association’s educational affiliate, Health Research & Educational Trust, Christopher’s research and scholarship advances how health systems are organized, delivered and financed to promote health equity and improve the health of the nation.

As an associate professor and director of the Georgetown University graduate program in health systems administration, Christopher is an academic administrator and strategist. To advance policy and practice at the intersection of medical care, public health, and systemic racism, Christopher lectures at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and the Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies.

In his former roles, Christopher served as the first Assistant Vice President of Community for a $5B not-for-profit healthcare system in the mid-Atlantic. In this capacity, he advanced the system’s capacity to promote health and better align with health reform priorities and emerging payment models. As Director of Programs for a Federally Qualified Health Center in southern Maryland, Christopher managed a Women, Infants and Children’s Program, Ryan White HIV Services, and specialty care referral contracts. As Chairman of the Board for the Consumer Health Foundation, his leadership was instrumental in shifting a philanthropic strategy from access to racial equity and economic justice as a means of improving the health of historically marginalized populations.

Christopher’s investigations and thought leadership have been published in the Journal of the National Medical Association, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and the American Journal of Medical Quality. Most recently, his epidemiological investigation on health disparities in the nation’s capital served as a cue to action for policymakers and cross-sectoral stakeholders.

Christopher is board certified in healthcare management. He received his PhD in Health Services Administration with a focus on vulnerable populations from the University of Maryland College Park. He has been recognized by the Washington Business Journal as one of the region’s most influential leaders.

Rochelle Petermann, MS, LPC

Rochelle Petermann serves as the learner representative for the Capella University Board of Directors and is a PhD student in the Counselor Education and Supervision program.  She is a licensed professional counselor in Columbus, Georgia. She currently works as an outpatient clinician with a community mental health agency and maintains a part time private practice. Petermann works with a broad spectrum of clients, and her specialties include individual, couples, and family therapy with adolescents and adults, adjustment disorders, anxiety, depressive disorders, grief and loss, personality disorders, PTSD, trauma, and relational conflict. 

Ms. Petermann holds a MS in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University and a BS, m. in Christian Counseling from Liberty University.

Lori Riley, MBA

Lori Riley is currently Vice President, Human Capital for Optum Technology, Enterprise Clinical Services, Optum Insight and Optum Global Operations. She is also the Chief People Officer for Rally Health. Previously she was Vice President, Human Capital for Optum Operations. 

Ms. Riley has held numerous positions in human resources and technology. She was Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources and Information Officer of Evine Live (now iMedia) where she led human resources, technology, facilities & loss prevention. Prior to that, she was Vice President, Human Capital at UnitedHealth Group where she led a global team responsible for employee relations, HR direct, payroll, diversity & inclusion, human capital analytics & reporting, and HR systems.  She also spent 15 years at Target Corporation in numerous human resources and technology positions, including Vice President, Target Technology, Vice President, Human Resources Operations, Human Resources Director, and Director of Compensation. 

Ms. Riley serves as an advisory group member of Pacer Center which helps children and families with special needs. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees for Capella University. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in personnel & industrial relations, an MBA and a MS in Business Education from Northern Illinois University.

Diana Rodriguez, MBA

Diana Z. Rodriguez is the 16th chancellor of the San Bernardino Community College District.  Prior to that, she served as president of San Bernardino Valley College and Vice President of Student Services and Vice President of Academic Services at Las Positas College. A native of Southern California, second-generation Mexican-American and first-generation community college student, Diana's background is a close reflection of the social and cultural experiences of a vast majority of the community college students in the region.

In her roles as a tenured faculty member and college counselor, she gained first-hand insight into the unique challenges faced by students, faculty, and classified professionals in California’s diverse higher education landscape. Diana has a track record of improving campus morale, increasing student enrollment, advocating for institutional innovation and professional development, and successfully mobilizing campus-wide support for student success-related initiatives. She has led major grant funding initiatives and implemented campus-wide student diversity initiatives. During her first year at San Bernardino Valley College, Diana introduced a campus-wide SBVC Cares campaign to encourage administrators, faculty and classified professionals to reach out to at-risk students, which directly contributed to an increase in retention, student success, and graduation rates.

In 2018, Diana was named “Woman of the Year” by the 47th Assembly District of California for her extensive contributions to student equity and success in the Inland Empire. Since then, Diana has made it her mission to improve the college-going culture in the communities her college serves and help her students and staff turn their career dreams into reality.

Diana has 30 years of higher education experience, with 13 years in senior leadership positions She holds an associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from Palo Verde College and a bachelor’s degree in marketing, an MBA, and a master’s degree in education from California State University, San Bernardino.

Steven Snyder, PhD

Steven Snyder’s firm, Snyder Strategic, works with organizations to accelerate their capacity for strategic innovation. 

Early in his career, Snyder worked for Microsoft, when that company was in its infancy. His work there secured the relationship with IBM during a crucial stage in Microsoft’s growth.  Promoted as Microsoft’s first business unit general manager, Snyder led the company’s Development Tool business where his team won PC Magazine’s Technical Excellence Award three times.

After leaving Microsoft, Snyder earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in psychology from the University of Minnesota. Snyder then worked at Personnel Decisions International (PDI), a worldwide human resources consulting firm.

Snyder was co-founder and CEO of Net Perceptions, where he brought to market real-time personalized recommendations that have become central to the online shopping experience, with, the company’s first customer. Snyder’s work at Net Perceptions received numerous awards, including the first-ever World Technology Award for Commerce, and the MIT Sloan E-Commerce Technology Innovator Award.

Snyder is on the adjunct faculty of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.  He serves on the board of directors of Stemonix, winner of the Minnesota Cup.

Dwaun Warmack, EdD

Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack serves as the 9th President of Claflin University. He has more than 20 years of progressive administrative experience in higher education, including positions as president of Harris-Stowe State University, senior vice president of administration and student services at Bethune-Cookman University, and associate dean of students at Rhodes College.  He also held administrative positions at Western Carolina University and Delta State University.

Dr. Warmack was appointed as Chairman of the Missouri Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Statewide Commission in 2015 and served as Chairman for four years. He previously served on the boards of the Cortex Innovation Community, the Saint Louis Science Center, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, St. Louis Muny, the Greater St. Louis Area Council Boy Scouts of America and Millennium Leadership Initiative Executive Steering Committee. Other past board memberships include the United Way of Greater St. Louis, Southern Association for College Student Affairs (SACSA) Foundation, and the Alumni Board of Directors for Delta State University.

Warmack earned a bachelor’s degree in education and master’s degree in sociology from Delta State University. He earned his doctorate in educational leadership with a specialization in higher education from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and completed post-doctoral studies in educational leadership at Harvard University School of Education.

Harry Williams, EdD

Dr. Harry L. Williams serves as president & CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. TMCF’s 47 member-schools make up the publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs) which represent nearly 300,000 students. Under his leadership as President & CEO, TMCF has focused on creating innovative partnerships, increasing organizational sustainability, and advancing bipartisan advocacy.

Prior to joining TMCF, Dr. Williams was the 10th President of Delaware State University from 2010 through 2017, after serving as the institution's provost and vice president for academic affairs. During his tenure, Dr. Williams held numerous meetings with constituencies, including White House officials, Governor Jack Markell, the Delaware Congressional delegation, state legislators, alumni groups, community organizations, and others. Dr. Williams also took several trips abroad to sign new collaborative agreements with institutions of higher education in China and South Africa.

Dr. Williams also held roles at the University of North Carolina General Administration as interim associate vice president for academic affairs beginning in September 2007 and interim senior associate vice president for academic and student affairs beginning in March 2017 – a role in which he focused on access and outreach for the 17 campuses of the UNC system. In addition to his experience within institutions of higher education, from 2002 to 2008 Dr. Williams was a national marketing and recruitment associate consultant with Noel-Levitz, the top national consulting firm for enrollment and management solutions in the country. In that capacity, Dr. Williams provided consultation expertise to 14 different institutions of higher education, including Delaware State University.

Dr. Williams earned a Bachelor of Science in Communication Broadcasting and a Master of Arts in Educational Media, both from Appalachian State University. He earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from East Tennessee State University.

Take the next step

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