Northwestern College names new dean for Graduate School & Adult Learning

Northwestern College has announced the hiring of Dr. Jill Swisher as dean of its Graduate School & Adult Learning (GSAL) division. Swisher comes to Northwestern from Concordia University in Irvine, California, where she is the senior director of the Master of Arts programs in Concordia’s School of Education. She will start her new position in July.

As dean, Swisher will lead GSAL staff and faculty in the continued growth of programs, meeting the needs of adult learners in both face-to-face and online environments. She will also oversee GSAL operations and marketing activities and work across campus to provide collaborative service to Northwestern’s adult students.

“Dr. Swisher brings significant experience in adult and graduate education, including advising, accreditation and new program development,” says Dr. D. Nathan Phinney, vice president for academic affairs. “Especially encouraging is her deep and vocal commitment to distinctively Christian higher education.”

Swisher has a doctorate in educational leadership from Concordia University, Irvine, as well as master’s degrees in organizational leadership and communication studies from Chapman University and San Diego State University, respectively. She has been part of Concordia’s administration and faculty for 18 years, during which time she served in roles that included the university’s online Master of Arts in Education program coordinator, director of graduate advising, and assistant professor and director of the M.A.Ed. school counseling program.

“I am humbled to have been called to Northwestern College to serve in this way,” says Swisher, “and I’m grateful for the privilege of stewarding the GSAL division toward its purpose of preparing and empowering online and graduate students for their callings. I hope the experience I bring is a blessing to the team, and I look forward to working collaboratively and systemically to develop and fulfill initiatives that support institutional goals.”

Since 2013, Northwestern’s Graduate School & Adult Learning division has grown from enrolling 30 students to nearly 700. Programs offered include master’s degrees in education and physician assistant studies, as well as school and clinical mental health counseling. The division also offers graduate-level education endorsements and certificates, certificates in legal and medical interpreting, and undergraduate degree-completion programs in early childhood education and nursing. For more information about these programs, visit

Swisher replaces Gary Richardson, who served as Northwestern’s dean of the Graduate School & Adult Learning division for the past year and a half.