About PLU


Thomas W. Krise, Ph.D.

Thomas W. Krise became the 13th president of Pacific Lutheran University on June 1, 2012. He also holds a full professorship with tenure in the Department of English.

He earned a B.S. in history from the United States Air Force Academy in 1983, an M.S.A. in human resources management from Central Michigan University in 1986, an M.A. in English language and literature from the University of Minnesota in 1989, and a Ph.D. in English language and literature from the University of Chicago in 1995. He is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, Phi Kappa Phi, and Phi Beta Kappa.

Prior to his appointment as PLU’s president, he was dean of the College of the Pacific at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., where he was responsible for 32 graduate and undergraduate programs in the arts and sciences, and more than 200 faculty and staff members in 27 departments, centers, and programs with a total budget of more than $20 million.

Prior to his appointment at Pacific, he was chair of the Department of English at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. With more than 180 full- and part-time faculty and staff members and a budget of $5.2 million, it was one of the largest academic departments in the country.

Before moving to UCF, he served 22 years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force as a regular commissioned officer, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was a Strategic Air Command flight commander in North Dakota followed by military-academic assignments on the faculty of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, as a senior military fellow of the Institute for National Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C., and as vice director of the National Defense University Press. He was the founder and first director of the Air Force Humanities Institute and deputy head of the Department of English and Fine Arts at the Air Force Academy, also serving as president of the faculty senate there.

His academic interests focus on early Caribbean, early American, and 17th- and 18th-century British literature. He served as general editor of the McNair Papers monograph series and managing editor of War, Literature, and the Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities. He has published numerous articles and other scholarly works, including Caribbeana: An Anthology of English Literature of the West Indies, 1657-1777 (University of Chicago Press). In 1999, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. He has worked and lectured on six continents and is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, was president of the Society of Early Americanists and founder of the Early Caribbean Society.

The son and grandson of Army medical service officers, he was born at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, and spent his early childhood in Washington, D.C., and on military posts across the U.S. and in Germany. He lived aboard a sailboat for the better part of two years and then attended high school on the island of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, where he was a deckhand, a divemaster and an Eagle Scout. He is married to Patricia Love Krise, a native of Indianapolis, who earned a B.A. from Hanover College and an M.B.A. from Miami University of Ohio. She has been a Fortune-50 manager and executive for more than 25 years, currently with the Ford Motor Company. They live at Gonyea House, the official residence of the President of PLU, in Tacoma, Washington.

Provost & Senior Vice President

Steven P. Starkovich, Ph.D.

Steve Starkovich, provost, is an associate professor of physics at Pacific Lutheran University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric sciences with an emphasis in atmospheric chemistry from Oregon State University. His master’s degree is in educational policy and management with an emphasis in higher education administration from the University of Oregon. He earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, and his area of specialization is general relativity and field theory.

After completing his bachelor’s degree in 1976, Starkovich pursued his interest in Oregon state politics, and in 1982 he was elected to the Oregon State Senate. In 1985 he was chosen by his fellow state senators as majority leader – only the second time to that point in Oregon history that someone was elected to serve as senate majority leader while still in his first term. He worked mostly on issues related to the environment, labor and education, and he chaired several significant legislative committees. He earned his master’s degree while still serving in the Oregon Legislature, and returned to graduate school in 1987, earning his Ph.D. in 1992.

Starkovich first came to PLU in 1992 and was hired into a tenure-track position in 1997. He was a principal investigator on a grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation that brought an astronomical observatory to the PLU campus in 1998. The observatory has been a valuable addition to the university’s astronomy curriculum and to its public outreach efforts through PLU’s Jazz Under the Stars concerts and through events held in collaboration with the Tacoma Astronomical Society.

Starkovich taught for 17 years prior to becoming acting provost in 2009 and then provost in 2010. Before becoming provost, his university service included chair of the physics department (three and a half years), a member of the Faculty Affairs Committee (five years), a member of the Budget Advisory Committee (six years), parliamentarian to the chair of the Faculty Assembly (two years), elected faculty representative to the Board of Regents, and special assistant to the provost for budget modeling.

Starkovich was raised on his family’s farm in Oregon. He and his partner, Ruth Williams, have lived in Seattle since 1989.

Vice President for Finance and Operations

Anna Leon-Guerrero, Ph.D.

A member of PLU’s faculty since 1993, Anna Leon-Guerrero is a professor of sociology. She earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Leon-Guerrero is co-author of two social statistics texts – the best selling Social Statistics for a Diverse Society (7th edition, 2015) and a brief edition, Essentials of Social Statistics for a Diverse Society (2011). She is the author of Social Problems: Community, Policy and Social Action (4th edition, 2013), a text inspired by her Social Problems course at PLU.

Since 1994 Dr. Leon-Guerrero has served as an appointed member of the Washington State’s Institutional Review Board approving human subjects research in the jurisdiction of three Washington State agencies: the Department of Social and Health Services, the Department of Health, and the Department of Labor and Industries. She served as chair of the faculty in 2010-2012.

Dr. Leon-Guerrero is a recipient of PLU’s Faculty Excellence Award (2000) and the K.T. Tang Excellence in Research Award (2010).

Vice President for Student Life

Joanna Royce-Davis, Ph.D.

Dr. Joanna Royce-Davis comes to us from the University of the Pacific, where she most recently served as Dean of Students in the Division of Student Life. In her 15-year career at the University of the Pacific, she has served as Associate Professor in the Benerd School of Education; Interim Vice President for Student Life; Assistant and Associate Vice President for Student Life; and as Associate Director of the Career Resource Center.

Dr. Royce-Davis earned a Certificate in Student Affairs Law & Policy from NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education in 2013; a
Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Counseling from Syracuse University in 2001; an M.A. in Counselor Education from San Jose State University in 1994; and a B.S. in Special Education with an emphasis in Community and Mental Health Counseling from Indiana University in 1990.

Among her notable accomplishments, Joanna directs the graduate program in Student Affairs at the University of the Pacific. She has also served as lead or co-designer for multiple strategies focused on undergraduate student success, including the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Student Success essay; First Year Experience signature programs, including MOVE (see Pacificmove.org), which received the 2012 NASPA National Gold award; and the Retention Action Network.

In 2013, Dr. Royce-Davis received the Podesto Award for Excellence in Student Life, Mentoring, and Counseling, and in 2012 she was awarded the Cavanaugh Distinguished Service Award from the University of the Pacific. In 2009, she received the NASPA Region IV Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Service as a Dean, and in 2006 she was named a Pacific Woman of Distinction. She also received the Martin Luther King, Jr., Opening Doors award in 2005.

Vice President for Advancement

Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee most recently served as Vice President of External Relations for Lutheran World Relief, an international relief and development organization with programs in approximately 35 countries, serving more than 7 million people annually. As the chief fundraising, donor relations and constituent engagement executive, Dan set the strategic direction of all external-facing efforts and guided LWR through their three most successful revenue generating years to date.

Prior to his role as Vice President, Dan lead LWR’s annual giving program and spearheaded the first comprehensive re-branding and website redevelopment process in more than 10 years. As Senior Director of Marketing for LWR,

Dan implemented numerous fundraising and communications initiatives, including the creation of LWR’s highly successful alternative giving program.

Dan received his B.A. in Communication from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota and a Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota. A former outdoor ministry chaplain, Dan has committed much of his career to working with, and on behalf of, faith communities. Dan seeks to passionately connect the Christian life of faith with his extensive global perspective to further the university’s mission of educating students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care.

Vice President of Marketing and Communications

Donna Gibbs

Gibbs most recently served as managing director, and helped establish the west coast operations, of Bluetext, a Washington, D.C.-based digital marketing and strategic communications firm that counts among its clients Google, Adobe, Cisco and Intel. Before joining Bluetext, Gibbs lived and worked in Malta and Barcelona, Spain, where she served as chief marketing officer for emerging mobile media companies.

Prior to moving abroad, Gibbs served as senior vice president for consumer marketing and ecommerce at PlanetOut, a leading media and entertainment company based in San Francisco. She also helped lead the company to a successful IPO in 2004.

Earlier, Gibbs was executive vice president at The Weber Group (later Weber Shandwick Worldwide), where she managed six offices and participated in managing key enterprise accounts including Adobe and Gateway Computer.

Gibbs has also served as vice president of corporate communications at Nike, where she was chief communications strategist and spokesperson on a wide range of issues including regulatory concerns, production sourcing and labor practices, mergers and acquisitions and financial performance during one of Nike’s most rapid periods of global expansion.

Prior to Nike, Gibbs was director of public relations at Mattel, Inc., where she was a member of an integrated brand marketing team devoted to reaching the billion-dollar milestone for Barbie worldwide sales. Gibbs began her corporate career at Apple as a public relations manager.

Gibbs graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications arts and sciences from Michigan State University. Gibbs and her husband live in Gig Harbor with two spoiled standard poodles. She is a long-time volunteer for Meals on Wheels and National Public Radio.