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PLU academic programs restructured into four distinct colleges

PLU academic programs restructured into four distinct colleges

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Two PLU students talk and laugh while sitting on the big gold PLU sign on the edge of campus.
August 31, 2022
By Zach Powers ’10
PLU Marketing & Communications

A long-planned academic restructure is being implemented that organizes Pacific Lutheran University’s academic programs into four colleges: the College of Health Professions; the College of Liberal Studies; the College of Natural Sciences; and the College of Professional Studies.

“We’re very grateful to the faculty and staff all over campus who have made time to participate in this process,” said PLU Provost Joanna Gregson. “A restructure of this magnitude is an intensive endeavor, and this work has required significant commitment, flexibility, and labor.”

The academic restructure was approved by the faculty in December 2021 and by the PLU Board of Regents in February 2022. While formally being implemented this summer, the work will continue into next year.

After the four-college model was approved, the Provost’s Academic Council facilitated a process by which academic programs each determined which college they would join. The final organizational roster of the four colleges is available below. 

“This new model will improve our administrative efficiency – while recognizing our academic strengths and the specialized work performed by each of the colleges and their academic sub-units,” said PLU Provost Joanna Gregson.

In May, PLU Regents ratified the appointment of the deans who will lead the four colleges. Ann Auman will serve as dean of the College of Natural Sciences. Cameron Bennett will serve as the dean of the College of Professional Studies. David Ward will serve as dean of the College of Health Professions. Patricia Bixel will serve as interim dean of the College of Liberal Studies. Among other responsibilities, the four college deans will provide direct supervision and strategic leadership for their respective colleges and support faculty achievement, development, and excellence. As senior university leaders, they will also serve on the Provost’s academic council.

While retaining many current school, departmental and program formats, colleges may evaluate and perhaps modify their internal operations to best serve students and support faculty.

“With the four newly designed colleges and their subdivisions, we will continue our purposeful integration of liberal arts, professional studies, and civic engagement with contributions from each of the four colleges to the core curriculum,” said Gregson. “Liberal arts education will remain the common foundation for students across all four colleges, as will PLU’s commitment to integrating socially impactful civic engagement across its community of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and partners.”

A wide variety of additional efforts connected to the restructure are underway across campus, including but not limited to revisions to the faculty governance system, analyzing how workloads are distributed between academic administrators and professional staff, and exploring interconnections between the programs forming each new college to see where curricular or other opportunities might be possible.

PLU's Four Academic Colleges

College of Health Professions


Marriage and Family Therapy


Social Work

College of Liberal Studies


Chinese Studies



Gender, Sexuality and Race Studies

Global Studies


Holocaust & Genocide Studies

Individualized Major

Languages and Literatures

Master of Fine Arts

Native American & Indigenous Studies


Political Science

Publishing & Printing Arts


Sociology & Criminal Justice

STEM Education Minor

College of Natural Sciences



Computer Science

Environmental Studies





College of Professional Studies


Communication, Media & Design Arts


Innovation Studies


Theatre & Dance

Note: General Education, First Year Experience, and International Honors will continue to reside under the Office of the Provost.

Changes were made to this article on January 11, 2024, to update the name of the College of Humanities, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Social Sciences to the new name, College of Liberal Studies.