Academic Affairs finds its North Star; new Provost is ready to lead

Heidelberg’s academic enterprise has a new leader.
Today, Dr. Courtney DeMayo Pugno took over as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost following six months of intense preparation. She is ready.
In a conversation last week, she took a deep dive with Marketing Associate Director and Senior Writer Angie Giles to talk about the transition, her new team, her goals, and her leadership approach.

“When I first started here (in 2010), I wanted to teach. I still love students,” Courtney says. “But over the course of a career, you just find opportunities.” Or sometimes, they find you.
The transition from professor to administrator has been several years in the making, beginning in 2017, when Courtney became the director of the Center for Teaching Excellence. In 2020, she merged the Center for Teaching Excellence with the Owen Academic and Career Success Center, creating the Owen Center for Teaching and Learning. In that role, she and her team created innovative strategies and streamlined the process to support every student and faculty member across campus.
With this new opportunity as Provost, she believes she can have an even greater impact.
“This institution has so many assets – in its faculty, in its staff – and so much potential. I intend to do everything I can to nurture, grow, and support that,” she says.
She also views this new role as an opportunity to repay Heidelberg for recognizing her potential.
“Heidelberg took a chance on me by giving me my first job out of grad school. … I’ve experienced incredible professional growth here and I want to be able to pay that back and forward.”

The transition

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes in the Provost’s Office that no one sees. When administration functions well, you won’t see it. It’s invisible work – but that invisible work is what makes all the work that faculty and staff do to support student success possible, Courtney says.
For the past six months, Courtney has worked closely with outgoing VP and Provost Dr. Bryan Smith, who is returning to the classroom as a full-time chemistry professor. She found incredible support from Bryan, who has been “an invaluable resource and deeply helpful.” President Rob Huntington has been an excellent sounding board, providing mentorship, especially in the areas of strategic thinking, prioritization, and decision-making. She’s learned a great deal from CFO Kim McGill as well.
It’s been heartwarming and encouraging too, to receive support from “a great many faculty members who are on board and ready to go,” Courtney says.

The new Academic Affairs team

Courtney will lead an Academic Affairs that is now comprised of the Dean of Academic Strategic Operations (Dr. Nate Beres), the Registrar (Mary Milazzo), the Director of Academic Assessment and Effectiveness (Jordan Kaufman), and the Executive Director of the Owen Center for Teaching and Learning (Morgan Harrigan).
Nate and Morgan are new to their roles but not new to Heidelberg.
Morgan and Courtney worked together in the Owen Center, and the former supervisor can’t wait to see what her colleague accomplishes in this expanded role. “She’s a powerhouse with incredible potential,” Courtney said of Morgan, who will oversee all aspects of faculty and student support housed in the OCTL, including Library Services, Faculty Development and Instructional Technology, Academic Support, Academic Advising, Accessibility Services, and Study Abroad.
Nate, a professor of chemistry, will be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations in Academic Affairs. During his Heidelberg career, Nate has contributed to many institutional initiatives and proved himself a tireless advocate for faculty governance, a promoter of academic rigor and academic excellence, and a staunch student advocate. A colleague with “a remarkable analytical mind who has already demonstrated exceptional leadership,” Courtney is excited to see him grow into his expanded role on a larger stage.

The goals

Courtney will be laser-focused on a series of goals – some already well-established – that will be the framework of her work. Her plate is full already.
At the top of the list, she will guide the acceleration of the five Key Strategic Initiatives that faculty identified a year ago. Among them: grow the College Credit Plus program; grow the number of online course and program offerings; implement the online MBA; implement the new General Education curriculum; and continue to improve the efficiency of Academic Affairs.
Ongoing, there will be the charge to continue to evaluate the existing academic programs and identify potential new ones, and enhance partnerships across campus. Down the road, Heidelberg will be up for reaffirmation of its Higher Learning Commission accreditation in 2027.
“The Academic Affairs strategy is not changing. We still want to make a Heidelberg education accessible to a wider audience,” she says. “But when we do modify tactics, we need to be able to pivot and change seamlessly.”

The leadership approach

Honesty, transparency, accountability and integrity are Courtney’s leadership values. “I always want to be honest about where we are, what we’re doing, why I’m making the choices I’m making,” she says, noting that the “how” and “why” are often the most important components of conversations.
Regardless of the day of the week, the situation, or the individuals involved, you can be certain that Courtney will be the same person 100 percent of the time.
“I want to make sure that the people with expertise and ability are empowered to do their work and know exactly what our goals are,” she says. “If we treat the goals like the North Star, guiding the direction for everything we do, then it’s clearer how to prioritize and everyone can make informed decisions about how they contribute to our overall trajectory.”


Latest News & Announcements


The Retail, Print & Parcel staff will be working on inventory in the Bookstore July 2-15, 202

The Office of Student Engagement is currently seeking students to apply to be Welcome Week Leader

The current issue of Heidelbiz, the School of Business newsletter, was recently publishe

The Marketing Team wants to extend a giant thank-you to the many students, faculty and staff memb

Summer Internship Opportunity. Applications due May 6th.

Jeep (Stellantis) is accepting applications for internships in Toledo, Metro Detroit, and Kokomo,