Academic Leaders

Herbert A. Medina, PhD, Provost

Herbert A. Medina

Dr. Herbert A. Medina, became the University's provost in 2020 and served as its Acting President from 2021 - 2022. Herbert Medina joined the University of Portland as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2018. Prior to his appointment at the University of Portland, he served as associate dean for faculty/staff development and student success at the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering at Loyola Marymount University.

Dr. Medina earned a bachelor of science in mathematics and computer science, a master of arts, and doctor of mathematics, all from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS.)

 

Elise Moentmann, PhD, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs

Elise Moentmann

Elise M. Moentmann, PhD, came to the University of Portland in 1998. She has previously served as Associate Dean for Students in the College of Arts and Sciences, Chair in the Department of History, and Director of the Summer Salzburg Program. She has also chaired or served on numerous University and Academic Senate Committees.  She has taught courses in Modern European history, Modern East Asian history, and urban history.  She is a member of the following scholarly and professional organizations: American Historical Association, Society of French Historical Studies, Society of Architectural Historians, National Academic Advising Association (NACADA).

Moentmann received her bachelor of architecture and master of arts (history) degrees from Louisiana Tech University and a doctor of philosophy (history) from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Gerardo Cifuentes, M.S., Associate Provost of Admissions

Gerardo Cifuentes

Prior to his appointment at UP, Gerardo has held leadership roles in admissions, retention, and other student services at Warner Pacific University, Mt. Hood Community College, Lane Community College, and most recently at Columbia Gorge Community College. Gerardo’s work at these institutions has been guided by a strong commitment to access, diversity, and retention.

Originally from Mexico City, Gerardo attended Oklahoma Christian University on a soccer scholarship; he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Gerardo later earned a Master of Science in Business Administration from Warner Pacific University.

 

Eduardo J. Contreras, Jr., EdD, Associate Provost for International Education, Diversity and Inclusion

Eddie Contreras

Eduardo Contreras is associate provost for international education, diversity, and Inclusion. He has served as the director of studies abroad since 2015 and has been chair of the Collaborative on International Studies and Global Outreach (CISGO) and member of the President's Advisory Committee on Inclusion since 2016. He also teaches in the higher education and student affairs (MA-HESA) master’s program.

He has presented and written extensively on international education and inclusion with a chapter recently appearing in the book Promoting Inclusion in Education Abroad. In addition to an EdM and EdD from Harvard University, he earned a BA in history and an MA in Asian cultures and languages from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Cara Hersh, PhD, Assistant Provost for Scholarly Engagement & Career Readiness

Cara Hersh

Cara Hersh is assistant provost for undergraduate scholarly engagement and career readiness. Her office oversees the Career Education Center, the Honors Program, fellowships and grants, and undergraduate research. In addition, she is a professor in the English department; her scholarship focuses on medieval literature. Hersh joined the University of Portland in 2006 and served as an associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences for two years before becoming assistant provost in 2022.

Hersh received a bachelor of arts in English from Haverford College and her master of arts and doctor of philosophy in English from Duke University.

Xan Arch, MS, Dean of the Library

Xan Arch
Xan Arch joined the University of Portland in 2015 as dean of the Clark Library. Xan has a BA in English and French literatures and a MA in English literature from Stanford University. She earned her MS in library and information science from San Jose State University in 2007.

Valerie S. Banschbach, PhD, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Valerie Banschbach

 Dr. Banschbach joined the University in 2022. She had previously served as Associate Provost and Dean of Sciences & Education at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Dr. Banschbach also previously held faculty and academic leadership positions at Roanoke College in Virginia and Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. Her accomplishments include a State Council of Higher Education Outstanding Faculty Award for Virginia and a Fulbright-Nehru grant for work in India. Recently, she also served as President of the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences.

Dr. Banschbach received her bachelor’s degree and PhD, both in Biology, from Pomona College and the University of Miami, respectively. Her recent research and teaching have been in environmental studies and science, so she will also have an appointment as a tenured Professor in UP’s Department of Environmental Studies.

Michael L. DeVaughn, PhD, Dean of the Pamplin School of Business

Michael DeVaughn

Dr. DeVaughn joins the University in 2021. He previously had been a faculty member at Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota where he served in various leadership roles at the institution including Faculty Director of the M.B.A. Program and Research Fellow in the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship. His scholarship has centered on organizational learning and entrepreneurship, as well as the delivery of business education. 

Dr. DeVaughn received his bachelor’s degree from Brown University, his M.B.A. from Indiana University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to joining St. Thomas, he served on the faculty at the University of Minnesota and enjoyed a successful career in the private sector with corporations including Ralston Purina, PepsiCo, and Fleet Financial Group (now Bank of America).

Brian Fabien, PhD, Dean of the Shiley School of Engineering

Brian Fabien

Dr. Brian Fabien joined the University of Portland in 2020. Dr. Fabien holds a Ph.D., Master of Philosophy, and Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University in New York; and a Bachelor of Engineering with Honors Degree from the City College of New York.  Prior to his arrival in the University of Washington system in 1993, Dr. Fabien held prior professorships at the University of the West Indies and Ohio University.  A corporate career in engineering preceded academia, highlighted by his role as the lead mechanical engineer overseeing the guidance sensors for the famed Hubble Space Telescope.  Other industry posts include Xerox Corporation, PerkinElmer, and Textron, Inc. (Lycoming Engines Division). 

Casey Shillam, PhD, Dean of the School of Nursing

Casey R. Shillam

Casey R. Shillam is the dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Portland.  She joined UP in 2015 as an associate professor and began service as the associate dean for the undergraduate program in October 2015. She serves as Certification Line Director: Gerontological Nursing for Nursing Specialty Education. She is also a member of the board of directors of the Chuckanut Health Foundation, the NW Organization of Nurse Executives and founding director of the Hartford Gerontological Nursing Leaders. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Beta Psi/omicron Upsilon Chapters. Shillam received her baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral degrees in nursing from Oregon Health & Science University. 

John Watzke, PhD, Dean of the School of Education, Dean of the Graduate School

John Watzke

John L. Watzke joined the University as dean of the School of Education in 2010. He was appointed as Dean of the Graduate School in 2019.  His research and work has focused on the development and support of teaching communities, teacher performance assessment, professional development and educational policy. Affirming the belief that theory should be connected to practice, he maintains his teacher certification in foreign language education. Watzke is a founding member of the International Society for Language Studies, a 501c(6) non-profit, organized in 2002 by scholars united in their goal to create an interdisciplinary society of scholars and practitioners from fields such medicine, law, the arts and social sciences engaged in language studies. He earned his bachelor of arts, master of arts, and doctor of philosophy degrees from the University of Iowa.