Dr. Alan G. Walker
President of the College
Dr. Alan Walker brings over thirty years of progressively responsible teaching, administrative, and leadership experience in post-secondary education. He served as the President of Upper Iowa University for eight years, and most recently as Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Shawnee State University (Ohio). Over the course of his career, Dr. Walker has gained expertise across a broad array of functional areas: the implementation of strategic plans, including identification and acquisition of the necessary resources; enrollment management; financial management and strategic resource allocation; fundraising; curriculum development and delivery system design; and global business development.
While at Upper Iowa University – a masters degree-granting, private, independent, nonprofit university with an annual enrollment of 6,000 students and 750 full and part-time faculty and staff – Dr. Walker was responsible for the operation of the principal residential campus, online programs, and twenty centers across the U.S. as well as in Hong Kong and Malaysia. The University offered 40 majors, 64 minors, 5 pre-professional programs, and 4 graduate-level programs. During his tenure as President, he oversaw a $70 million capital construction program, opened five new academic extension centers, increased enrollment on the principal campus by 48%, added eleven new majors, doubled the full-time faculty, and established both the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and the Honors Program.
While serving as Interim Provost as Shawnee State University, he was responsible for a budget of approximately $25 million as well as 146 full-time and 175 part-time faculty members. He provided leadership for the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Professional Studies, University College, the Library, the Registrar’s Office, the Graduate Center, Grants, Instructional Technology, the Center for International Programs and Activities, the Teaching Learning Center, the Women’s Center, the Honors Program, the General Education Program, and Distance Learning.
Earlier in his career, Dr. Walker served as the Vice Provost for Extended University Programs at Western Michigan University; Director of the Fire and Emergency Training Institute at Louisiana State University; Director, Fire Service Training, Division of Continuing Education at the University of Kansas; and Director of Fire Service Training at the Idaho State Division of Vocational Education.
Dr. Walker received his B.S. in Trade and Industrial Technical Education and M.Ed. in Vocational/Adult Education from the University of Idaho, and his Ph.D. in Higher Education Policy Administration from the University of Kansas. He and his wife of 30 years, Debbie, are avid outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy cycling, skiing, camping, backpacking, and sailing; they are excited to become a part of the active lifestyle at Lake Tahoe. Debbie grew up in Washington State and Alan has family in Idaho; they both look forward to being close to friends and family in the western region. They have one daughter, Emily, who is a college student.
Provost and Executive Vice President
Shannon Beets brings twenty years of experience in higher education as a senior administrator and faculty member. Immediately prior to assuming the role of Interim President of the College, Ms. Beets served for three years as Executive Vice President and Provost. She joined Sierra Nevada College in 2006 and has held a variety of positions across key academic areas, including Vice President for Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness, Associate Provost, Dean of Education for the Teacher Education Department, and Dean of Enrollment Services.
During her tenure she has worked closely with faculty, the executive leadership, and the Board to create high impact academic programs, measure student learning outcomes, and assess institutional effectiveness. She successfully led the College’s most recent reaccreditation process; and she has launched three successful Master’s degree programs, including the Master of Arts in Education (M.Ed.), and two innovative, low-residency programs: the Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Creative Writing and the MFA in Interdisciplinary Art. Most recently, she spearheaded development of the College’s Strategic Plan for 2014-2021 through a process that engaged all sectors of the College community, as well as key external stakeholders.
As an innovative educator, she has passionately advocated for active learning, leading and collaborating with SNC faculty to create significant new initiatives to increase high impact practices in the classroom – a distinguishing hallmark of Sierra Nevada College. In addition to her administrative responsibilities and her work in designing innovative curriculum, she continues to teach, both in the landmark freshman year experience course, CORE 101, and in senior level courses in a variety of areas.
Beets is a frequent presenter on academic innovation and student engagement both nationally and internationally, recently representing the College in China during a multi-university tour to collaborate on teaching of entrepreneurial thinking to Chinese youth. In keeping with her strong commitment to the community, Beets serves as the facilitator for the North Lake Tahoe-Truckee Leadership Program, which trains, informs and engages accomplished professionals throughout the region in preparation for leadership roles in the community.
Beets received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion and Philosophy from the University of La Verne, Las Verne, California; and her Master of Arts in Women’s Studies in Religion from Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California.
A Reno native, Dr. O’Bryan earned his B.A.in English Literature at the University of Nevada, Reno; his M.A. in English Literature at the University of California, Berkeley; and his Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of Washington. He taught philosophy at Truckee Meadows Community College and literature, history, philosophy and religious studies at Old College in Reno, Nevada before coming to Sierra Nevada College in 1992. Currently, he teaches the Nevada Constitution, the Senior Course on Ethics, American Literature and Masterpieces of World Literature.
O’Bryan became the Associate Provost in 2007, assisting in the daily functions of the academic dimensions of the college. He is the chair of the Curriculum Committee, works with department chairs and faculty to create annual goals and is an arbiter in any academic conflicts. His interests include historiography and the challenges that new perspectives such as postmodernism offer to traditional historical understanding; philosophy in terms of the intersections between Asian and Western thought; the psychological and sociological dimensions of religion; and the role of literature as the most sensitive reflection of any historical epoch.
In his role as Humanities Chair and Associate Provost, he has altered the direction and intellectual content of Senior Projects to raise the level of intellectual rigor while standardizing the approach; Senior Projects are carefully assessed on the basis of approach and application, content and knowledge of the topic, connections between the discipline and other areas of study and the disciplines as generally understood in the current academic world. The Senior Projects, together with the Junior Art Portfolio Review, the Business Plan Competition and the Governor’s Cup in the Business Department and the independent research typical of the Science Department now lead to the Senior Symposium, an active demonstration of the emphasis on a culture of excellence and academic achievement at the college.
Chief Financial Officer
Sue Johnson has brought over 25 years of progressive executive management experience to SNC. She began her career as a Senior Staff Accountant at Grant Thornton, one of the top accounting firms in the nation. She subsequently served for over 9 years as the Chief Financial Officer for Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, overseeing a $160 million budget and directing the functions of accounting, finance, purchasing, credit, regulatory compliance and strategic planning/analysis, among others.
Following her time at Harrah’s, Johnson served as the Acting Chief Financial Officer for Carson City, where she coordinated the operations of finance, risk management and purchasing; worked with bond counsel to coordinate bond sales; and directed the annual comprehensive financial report. She subsequently served for two separate one year periods as Carson City’s Internal Auditor. Prior to coming to SNC, she worked for Freeman & Williams, LLP, a Carson City based accounting practice, where she developed and managed their internal control review services for a widely diversified clientele.
Johnson has a comprehensive understanding and deep appreciation for the meaning of the liberal arts, and a passion for providing financial direction to Sierra Nevada College.