Dr. Beth Rubin, a longtime educator and leader in adult and online learning, announced she will retire as dean of Campbell University Adult & Online Education at the end of July. Nicole Winget, current assistant dean of student life and support, will be named interim dean upon her retirement, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Mark Hammond announced this week.
Rubin joined Campbell University in the summer of 2017 after leading the online program at Miami University of Ohio, where as assistant provost of eLearning she grew online enrollment by 300 percent in three years. A graduate of Cornell University who earned her master’s degree and Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology from Michigan State University, Rubin spent 11 years as a psychology professor, winning a teaching award at the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba in Canada.
In her six years at Campbell, Rubin and her team revised AOE’s operating practices and personnel to increase consistency and align staff with student demand. The program led Campbell University through the COVID-19 pandemic, helping all schools through the transition from in-person to online learning and through the hybrid programs that followed. AOE also initiated the Second Chance Initiative under Rubin, taking Campbell’s new prison education programs from an idea to a program that has now passed three SACSCOC accreditation reviews and is now serving 62 incarcerated and recently released students.
Campbell currently ranks among the Top 20 percent of schools in the nation for its online bachelor’s programs, according to rankings released in January by U.S. News & World Report. It’s also ranked 44th in the nation for “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans” and 79th for “Best Online Bachelor’s in Business Programs.”
Rubin said she looks back with “enormous pride” and deep appreciation for her staff to make these efforts a reality in the last six years.
“The chief memory for me will be the many amazing, dedicated, brilliant and caring people with whom I have worked,” Rubin said. “Campbell attracts people who want to make the world a better place and help people lead with purpose, and the strong mission guides us all to work together to achieve those goals.”
Another big moment was being asked to deliver the benediction at the 2021 Spring Commencement ceremony, where she shared her favorite Hebrew prayer and then translated it in English.
“It is deeply meaningful for me, and the respect and even reverence that the entire gathering gave to me was so powerful; the feelings it evoked resonate with me to this day.”
The Second Chance Initiative, she said, has been the most satisfying element of not just her time at Campbell, but of her career. Rubin said she will be “eternally grateful” to President J. Bradley Creed, Executive Vice President John Roberson and Hammond for giving her the opportunity.
“When I first came to Campbell, I said that my greatest joy is in giving people who have never had the chance to succeed at higher education the opportunity to access it,” she said. “The prison programs have offered high-quality college education to people who have few options and not a lot of hope. We give these students a chance to develop themselves, to believe in themselves and one another, and to thrive. To learn skills, attitudes and habits that they will need to succeed in the outside world. And to give them credentials second to none. And we also provided them with the counseling and support that they need to succeed.
“Creating, nurturing and growing this program is absolutely the high point of my career.”
Nicole Winget joined Campbell University’s staff in 2015, and in addition to her role as assistant dean for student life and military campuses,, she’s also an adjunct professor of homeland security and criminal justice. She’s also taken on additional roles such as mock trial coach and even fitness instructor.
A graduate of Ohio Northern University College of Law in 2009, Winget started her career as a lawyer in Ohio while also teaching at Ohio Northern, Ohio State University and Rhodes State College. She has been a member of the U.S. Navy for 20-plus years, starting as an enlisted information technology specialist and completing tours in Kuwait and Afghanistan. She is now a lieutenant commander, assigned to NORTHCOM, and her awards include the Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Navy Commendation Medal.
Winget said her goals as interim dean will be the continued growth of the program and exploring certificate and credential opportunities, as well as continued student life improvements.
“The landscape has changed over the last few years, and I want to leverage the amazing Adult & Online Education team to find creative new ways to grow the student population and support Campbell University as a whole,” she said. “Additionally, we will continue to find innovative ways to enhance the student life experience for the unique student population of Adult & Online Education and use those programs to both recruit and retain students.”
Winget said Rubin’s passion for education, her creative mindset and her strong leadership have been a guiding light for her.
“She has ignited and nurtured in me a deep respect and love for the working learner and has taught me so much about how to serve that population well,” she said. “I am very proud of her work in the Second Chance Initiative and am looking forward to continuing her work in this space. She has been an outstanding mentor and I am frankly honored to be following in her footsteps.”
Hammond called Rubin a “wonderful partner” at Campbell who has worked “tirelessly to ensure the quality of educational experiences” for online students and for other AOE programs.
“Her positive influences on the student experience of our adult and online learners will be celebrated for a long time,” he said. He also pointed to the Second Chance Initiative as a part of Rubin’s legacy that will live on.
“Numerous lives have and will be changed for the better thanks to their access to great academic programs. I will remain grateful that Dr. Rubin always brings an enthusiastic heart and enduring passion for our work together.”
Hammond called Winget a “continuously rising star” in the AOE program who has demonstrated herself to be “a highly competent and effective administrator.”
“We can expect her to continue many of the fine traditions and operations of our AOE programs, while also bringing new ideas and initiatives to AOE and the broader University, thanks to her combined civilian and military experiences,” Hammond said.
Rubin said she hopes to see the continued growth of the program once she’s gone and said she hopes to see the program expand in two directions — adding more graduate programs and adding more undergraduate certificates.
“There is great need in both areas, and we should be meeting it,” she said. “We’ve worked with the School of Education & Human Sciences to offer the online Master’s in Applied Teaching, which is gaining steam, and we also led an interdisciplinary committee to develop a new online master’s program in applied leadership, which begins in August. We can add more master’s programs to meet student needs. I’d like to see us develop undergraduate certificates that stack to undergraduate degrees and/or minors, in areas such as logistics where there is great demand in North Carolina. And I’d like to see us offer non-credit credentials and learning opportunities for our alumni, to continue engaging them, build bridges between them and our students, and encourage them to continue their education with Campbell Online.”
As for her retirement plans, Rubin said she’ll sleep for a full week, then travel, learn to speak Spanish, take art classes, take dancing classes with her husband, work out more, travel (more), get more involved in her synagogue, volunteer in a school, read, watch all the television shows she missed, travel (more) and get more sleep.
“We will continue to call Cary home, as we love so much about this area,” she said. “The food, the culture, the beauty, the weather, the people, the special events and activities — it has definitely become home. Maybe not in July and August, though, when it’s a bit humid for me.”