Meet our Deans

Dr. Richard H. Heist

School of Engineering

Richard H. Heist, PhD, is the interim dean of the School of Engineering at Fairfield University. Dr. Heist is senior vice president emeritus for Academic Affairs and Research at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Fla. Dr. Heist held the positions of provost and senior vice president as well as professor of engineering at Embry-Riddle from 2007 to 2009. He was executive vice president and chief academic officer of the Daytona Beach campus from 2009 to 2012, and then assumed the duties of chancellor, also for the Daytona Beach campus. Dr. Heist was appointed senior vice president for academic affairs and research for the university in January 2015, and he retired from Embry-Riddle in August 2016.

Prior to Embry-Riddle, Dr. Heist served for seven years as the dean of the School of Engineering at Manhattan College in Riverdale, N.Y., where he also was professor of engineering and director of the Nucleation Laboratory. Before joining Manhattan College, Dr. Heist spent 26 years at the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., where he was the associate dean for graduate studies for the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, as well as a professor of chemical engineering and director of the Center for Nucleation Research.

A recipient of numerous awards for excellence in undergraduate teaching, Dr. Heist has an extensive record of research and scholarship in nucleation, nucleation-related phenomena, cavitation, aerosols and other ultrafine particles, and educational applications of microcomputers. He holds a PhD from Purdue University, where his thesis research was in the fields of physical chemistry and chemical physics, and a BA from Catawba College, where he majored in chemistry and minored in physics.

Dr. Zhan Li

Dolan School of Business

Zhan Li, DBA, former professor and dean of the School of Economics and Business Administration at St. Mary’s College of California, serves as the new dean of the Dolan School of Business and professor of marketing, following a national search.

During his tenure as dean at St. Mary’s, Dr. Li developed innovative and integrative curricula, student success, and career development programs that resulted in the highest enrollments and revenues in the college’s history at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Under his leadership student retention, graduation, and employment rates improved significantly. He also built strong connections within business and local communities that produced resources, internships, and jobs for students and the school.

Dr. Li received a DBA and an MBA from Boston University’s School of Management, and a BS in Industrial Engineering from the Harbin Institute of Technology, China. Prior to becoming associate dean he was chair of USF School of Business and Management, a visiting professor at the University of California Berkeley, and a visiting professor of Marketing at Peking University. During his time at the USF School of Business and Management he received five Outstanding Research Awards, two Outstanding Teaching Awards, and the Outstanding Service Award.

Dr. Robert Hannafin

Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions

Dr. Hannafin was the Dean of the College of Education, Information and Technology at Long Island University until June 2014. Prior to that he spent three years at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Hartford and served on the faculties at several universities. From 2004-2008 he was at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut where he taught in the Integrated Baccalaureate Master’s Program and was program head of Cognition and Instruction. From 1997 to 2004, Bob was at the College of William and Mary. While there, he was the principal investigator on a large faculty development grant that built technology partnerships across K-12 public schools. Dr. Hannafin began his career in higher education at Auburn University, where he was an assistant professor from 1995 to 1997.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Hannafin served as an instructional designer and trainer at Intel Corporation and as a mathematics and accounting teacher at Salesian High School in New Rochelle. He also served as vice president of a major bank in New York City.

Dr. Hannafin received a B.S. in accounting from St. Francis College, an MBA in finance from Fordham University, and a Ph.D. in psychology in education from Arizona State University.

Dr. Meredith Wallace Kazer

Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies

Dr. Meredith Wallace Kazer completed her BSN degree Magna Cum Laude at Boston University. Following this, she earned a MSN in medical-surgical nursing with a specialty in geriatrics from Yale University and a PhD in nursing research and theory development at New York University (NYU). 

During her time at NYU she was awarded a pre-doctoral fellowship at the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing. In this capacity she became the original author and editor of Try This: Best Practices in Geriatric Nursing series. She was the managing editor of the Journal of Applied Nursing Research and the research brief editor for the journal and is currently editor-in-chief of the Building Healthy Academic Communities Journal. 

Dr. Kazer is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters. She published Prostate Cancer: Nursing Assessment Management and Care which won an American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award. Preceding this, she was the associate editor of The Geriatric Nursing Research Digest, and the second edition of the Encyclopedia of Nursing Research. She also published and edited a case studies book for advanced practice, all of which won American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Awards. She is the past recipient of the Springer Publishing Company Award for Applied Nursing Research and the Virginia Henderson Award for Outstanding Contributions to Nursing Research. 

In 2014, Dr. Kazer was named among the 15 top adult gerontology professors. In 2015, she was named the 10th most influential dean of nursing in the United States. In 2018 she received the Connecticut League for Nursing President’s award for furthering the mission and goals of the organization. She is an adult and gerontological primary care nurse practitioner and currently maintains a practice with a focus on chronic illness in older adults. 

Dr. Richard Greenwald

College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Greenwald serves as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University. Prior to joining Fairfield on July 1, 2017, he served as the dean of the School of Humanities & Social Sciences at Brooklyn College CUNY. 

Dr. Greenwald has a strong background in liberal arts education, having served in both public and private institutions. Before serving as dean at Brooklyn College, he was the executive dean at St. Joseph’s College in New York, and the chair and founding director of the Business Studies Program, dean of Graduate Education, and director of University Partnerships at Drew University, among many other appointments. He has been a teacher of history, business and sociology since 1995, and received his PhD in American History from New York University. 

Named by the Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the leading “higher-education thought leaders,” Dr. Greenwald’s extensive scholarship and writings have been published in major national outlets including Inside Higher Education, the Wall Street Journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Boston Globe, and New York Daily News, among others. 

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