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Meet our experienced academic leaders.

From our provost to our deans to our faculty in the field, you’ll find dedicated professionals ready to serve you.


 Dr. Vernon C. Smith

Dr. Vernon C. Smith


Dr. Vernon C. Smith has more than 25 years experience in higher education. He has an extensive background in online learning issues and practices, including effective quality, assessment, and retention strategies in higher education, and was an early adopter of using big data for predictive modeling and teaching excellence to promote student success. He joined APUS from the University of the Pacific where he led digital and adult learning initiatives including oversight of the Center for Professional and Continuing Education, the Center for Teaching and Learning, Academic Technology, and support for graduate hybrid and in-person programs on the Sacramento and San Francisco campuses.

Dr. Smith was recently elected to the Executive Council of WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies) a division of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. He currently serves as Chair of the Advisory Board for ELI (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative) and served on the EDUCAUSE Board of Directors. His research interests include high-quality, cost-effective production models for online courses, the unbundling and re-bundling of the faculty role, adjunct faculty issues, academic integrity, and teaching and learning. Dr. Smith earned his Bachelor of Arts degrees in Latin American Studies and Spanish at Brigham Young University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He has a Master of Organizational Behavior from the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University and earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Organization and Administration of Higher Education from the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona.

 Dr. Jennifer Douglas

Dr. Jennifer Douglas

Dean of Graduate Studies and Research

Dr. Jennifer Douglas joined APUS in 2015 as an associate dean in the School of Graduate Studies, and was promoted to dean of the school in August of 2017. She has been instrumental in the creation of the school’s first doctoral level programs, and has created new academic support resources for graduate students to advance persistence and retention efforts at the graduate level.

Dr. Douglas has served in graduate education leadership roles since 2009 at West Virginia University, where she expanded opportunities for student success, such as professional development programming, curricular innovation, and faculty development. She engages in the national conversation and literature around graduate education, and she seeks new ways to keep APUS at the forefront for high quality, affordable education for adult learners. Dr. Douglas earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Rochester and continues to pursue scholarship opportunities around 20th century drama.

 Dr. Mark Riccardi

Dr. Nicole Drumhiller

Interim Dean, School of Security & Global Studies

Dr. Nicole Drumhiller is a Full Professor and is the Interim Dean within the School of Security and Global Studies (SSGS). She is responsible for the evaluation, mentorship, and development of the department’s faculty to ensure that teaching excellence is met, conducts student-faculty mediation and advocacy, and helps to support university partnerships within SSGS, among other responsibilities. In addition to her work as Interim Dean, Dr. Drumhiller is a Biosecurity Consultant consulting on industry best practices regarding personnel suitability and threat management.

She currently serves as an Editorial Board Member, for the peer-reviewed Journal of Global Security and Intelligence Studies, and she serves as an Advisory Board member for the Operative Intelligence Research Center in Rome, Italy. She is also a Certified Threat Manager, with the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals and co- Director of the IntelHub, an international collaboration with the University of Leicester in the UK, and Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain. Dr. Drumhiller is a published author whose works have focused on group behavior, political leadership, intelligence, and international relations. Dr. Drumhiller holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice, a B.A. in Political Science, an M.A. in Political Science, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Washington State University. 

Dr. Brian Freeland

Dr. Brian Freeland

Dean, School of Health Sciences

Dr. Brian Freeland was recently named dean for the School of Health Sciences after 7 years as the university's program director of the Sports and Health Sciences and Sports Management programs. With more than 16 years in coaching, athletic training, exercise science and wellness, and sports management, Dr. Freeland was well suited to develop the university's new B.S. in Sports Management along with 4 new concentrations for the B.S. and M.S. degrees in Sports and Health Sciences. Dr. Freeland also cultivated educational partnerships with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American Sport Education Program (ASEP), and the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA).

Dr. Freeland has presented at a variety of academic conferences on the topics of: The Development of an Online Tool Think Tank; Harnessing the Power of Alumni in Leading a Sport Management Program; Innovative Sport Marketing Strategies for Globalized Communication; International Aspects of Positions in Sport Management; and, Creative Ways to Attract and Engage Online Learners. In 2006, he was voted the Valley District Coach of the Year for leading Rockbridge High School to their first winning season in the history of the school. Dr. Freeland completed his Ed.D. in Sports Leadership and Management from Northcentral University, M.S. in Sports Management at the United States Sports Academy, and B.S. in Health and Physical Education at Radford University.

Dr. Anthony Garibay

Dr. Anthony Garibay

Interim Dean, School of Arts, Humanities & Education

Dr. Anthony R. Garibay is an accomplished Pre-K-12 and Higher Education professional with over 23 years of experience as an instructor and leader in student and academic affairs. Anthony started his career in Pre-K-12 education and leadership where he held positions as an instructional and school leader in underserved schools on the South and West sides of Chicago. In higher education, he has held positions as Financial Aid Director, Dean of Enrollment Management and Student Services and Dean of Academic and Student Affairs, where he also served as the Chief Accrediting Officer.

Dr. Garibay is a student-centered leader, capable of implementing initiatives to encourage student development and success. As an academic leader, he is dedicated to providing high-quality educational opportunities to students, support to and collaboration with faculty, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement. As a strategic planner, he has managed divisional budgets, personnel, and initiatives to consistently meet key performance indicators in support of institutional missions. Anthony is a forward-looking, data-driven, visionary leader with great entrepreneurial, strategic and analytic skills committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Dr. Garibay has a certificate in Higher Education Teaching from Harvard University, a doctorate in Educational Leadership in Higher Education from DePaul University, a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from DePaul University and a Bachelor’s degree in Theology from Loyola University Chicago. He is currently pursuing a certificate in Instructional Design at Arizona State University.

Most recently, Dr. Garibay served as the Dean of Students at Academy of Math and Science – Camelback in Phoenix, Arizona. He worked collaboratively with the school community to promote and implement Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) as well as reimagine disciplinary processes and procedures that promote equity, inclusion, reconciliation and restorative justice practices. Anthony also currently serves as an online instructor at DePaul University where he teaches Administration and Supervision courses at the Master and Doctoral levels as well as guides students in their internships in Pre-K – 12 and Higher Education leadership.

 Dr. Marie Harper

Dr. Marie Harper

Dean, Dr. Wallace E. Boston School of Business

Prior to joining APUS, Dr. Marie Gould Harper was the Faculty Chair, Business Administration at Peirce College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was hired as Program Director of Management at APUS in 2010. As Program Director, Dr. Harper has been instrumental in the Program maintaining recognition as a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) approved educational institution as well as specialty accreditation from Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

She also led the development of concentrations in Entrepreneurship in the Bachelors of Arts in Management and Masters of Arts in Management program. Additionally, Dr. Harper implemented two graduate certificate programs (Human Capital Leadership and Neuroleadership) and two undergraduate certificate programs (Employee Relations & Engagement and Strategic Leadership). In 2019, she was promoted to Dean of the School of Business.

Dr. Harper is a progressive Coach, Facilitator, Writer, Strategist, and Human Resources/Organizational Development professional with more than 30 years leadership, project management, and administrative experience, and has worked in both corporate and academia. In addition, she has served on many boards (Delaware End of Life Coalition, Berks County Human Relations Council) in the community, and presented at national conferences on topics such as human resources, organizational development and leadership.

Dr. Harper holds a B.A. degree in Psychology from Wellesley College, a M.S. degree in Instructional Systems from Pennsylvania State University, and a Ph.D. degree in Business from Capella University.

Dr. Danny Welsch

Dr. Daniel (Danny) Welsch

Interim Dean, School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Math

Dr. Danny Welsch has been serving the students of American Public University System since 2007 as a part-time faculty member, full-time faculty member, program director, associate dean, and interim dean for the School of STEM. Dr. Welsch is an environmental scientist with an emphasis in hydrology and biogeochemistry. Previously, Dr. Welsch served as the Director of Research for the Cannan Valley Institute, and as Assistant Professor at Frostburg State University. Dr. Welsch studies the flux of water, carbon, and energy between terrestrial and atmospheric systems, and more recently, has worked to develop and enhance the laboratory experience for online higher education.

Dr. Welsch received his B.S. degree from Frostburg State University, a M.S. from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

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