The Division of Applied Interdisciplinary Studies
Growing through Collaboration
The last six months have been filled with challenges and opportunities for Margaret Malmberg, Ph.D. —the associate provost for a newly formed division that includes the Mailman Segal Center, the Center for Psychological Studies, the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Criminal Justice Institute.
Malmberg, who received her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in experimental psychology from Texas Christian University, comes to NSU with a wealth of experience in academia.
After two years as associate dean at the University of Maine and director of the university’s Hutchinson Center in Belfast, Maine, she was lured away by former colleague Wilson G. Hess, president of the College of the Marshall Islands (CMI). She became the vice president for Academic Affairs and Student Life and Development of CMI, the national college for the Republic of the Marshall Islands, a small country made up of atolls and islands. The islands are just seven degrees north of the equator and 2,500 miles west of Hawaii. The decision wasn’t too difficult, as Malmberg’s husband, Steven, was already at CMI, in charge of designing and building a K–8 charter school.
At CMI, Malmberg eventually became executive vice president. Malmberg and the administration brought a struggling college that had been placed on “show cause” to full accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which called it a “model for the Pacific region.”
Malmberg, who likes to be called Meg, is delighted to join the NSU family. “There is a spirit of joint venture here,” she says.
What were some of the significant contributions made by you and your administration at the College of the Marshall Islands?
We doubled enrollment and significantly increased retention and graduation rates, particularly for students in developmental education. We also brought significant resources to the college, including an Area Health Education Center (AHEC) grant with Pacific regional partners and the first Partners in Nursing Grant from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation awarded outside the United States.
What is the primary goal of grouping the Center for Psychological Studies, the Mailman Segal Center, the Criminal Justice Institute, and the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences together?
The goal of the new Division of Applied Interdisciplinary Studies is to increase the opportunities for collaboration and cooperation among the four units in the new division and among other NSU colleges. This will increase options for NSU graduate and undergraduate students and enhance opportunities for interdisciplinary teaching, research, and service.
What challenges do you see?
It will be important to protect the autonomy of each unit while finding opportunities for the division. We need to establish a new identity. Equally important is supporting faculty and staff members as they take ownership of what this means to each of the programs within the division.
What positives do you see?
The division has the potential to support interdisciplinary efforts in program development, community outreach, and research. Our graduate programs will provide innovative options for students preparing for emerging careers. Community service will be complemented by our research. The integrated units will bring more recognition of the faculty’s and student body’s contributions.
Do you have a philosophy or strategy for achieving collaboration between the four units?
Collaborations grow out of shared needs and the recognition that joint endeavors can bring opportunities that might not be possible without the expertise of multiple perspectives. For now, I am doing my best to make myself available to faculty and staff members, so that I can learn about what collaborations are already happening, as well as those being considered. The three deans and the director of each of the four units are meeting with me, a very important part of my grounding.