28 July 2020

Abertay alum appointed president of University of Lynchburg

Abertay alum appointed president of University of Lynchburg

A picture of Alison Morrison-Shetlar smiling and holding a cup

ABOVE: Dr Alison Morrison-Shetlar

An Abertay University alum has become the first woman and first person born outside the United States to be named president of a prestigious university in Virginia.

Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar graduated with a PhD in Biomedical Sciences in 1984, while Abertay was still known as Dundee College of Technology.

She officially becomes president of the University of Lynchburg this Saturday (August 1st) after several months as president-elect.

Dr. Morrison Shetlar said: “I very much enjoyed being at Abertay for both my BSc in Biology and Chemistry and my PhD. The faculty were true mentors and supported our learning using innovative experiential learning strategies in the classroom and in the laboratory. 

“My peers were from diverse backgrounds and we became a close knit group from day one until the end of our four years at the College.” 

"I look back on my alma mater as the place that opened doors that I didn’t know existed." - Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar, President, University of Lynchburg

She said her time in Dundee helped propel her to her career in academia: “Like many first-generation in college students, I struggled to find my voice initially. It was the staff that provided me with an intellectually challenging environment that helped me find that voice and further develop my passion for biology and chemistry.

“They encouraged me to continue my education and earn my PhD, giving me my first taste of teaching. It was through these experiences that I knew I wanted to stay in education, and provide the same educational experience for others and make a difference in their lives.

“Now in my 36th year in higher education, living, teaching, and being involved in research in three different countries, I look back on my alma mater as the place that opened doors that I didn’t know existed.

"They gave me the confidence to walk through these doors, even if I wasn’t too sure what was on the other side. The faculty and staff taught me about cultural diversity, the ability to think critically, how to develop strong networks and reach my maximum potential.”

Dr. Morrison-Shetlar moved to the States in 1993, after enjoying a successful career in Europe. 

She was founding chair of the molecular biology unit at the Max Planck Institute in Dortmund, Germany and a teacher-scholar at Bochum University, and at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology in London. 

In the US, she has held teaching, research, and administrative positions at colleges and universities in Maine, Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina.

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