Dr. Matt Nolan Adrignola
Senior Associate Dean of Administration & Student Services
Education & Experience:
As a working adult, I earned a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration (EdD) from Saint Louis University. The subject of my dissertation, “Factors that affect initial enrollment of working adult graduate students.” Prior to that, I earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA), also from Saint Louis University, and again, as a working adult, graduate student. In the traditional route, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Finance, from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia. As a born and raised St. Louisian, “Where did you go to School” means “high school” so I am proud to mention that I am a graduate of Saint Louis University High School, where the motto is “Men for others” in the Jesuit tradition. Thus my Jesuit education, at various levels, has greatly influenced by attitudes and beliefs in public health and social justice.
My career advice, from my own experience, is to not be afraid to make changes, whether it be jobs or careers. See where life takes you. Upon earning a bachelor’s degree, I thought I would be working in the banking and finance industry, but wound up in advertising, public relations, and publishing instead. I spent twelve years as a business administrator and writer/editor, culminating in a position as a Vice-President – Administration. The thought of spending my career in the “for profit” world became less appealing, and I sought to transfer my skills to the non-profit world. I did not want to spend my career “banging my head against a wall” to make a buck.
The answer was shifting to higher education. In 1992 I was offered a position to join my first School of Public Health as the Director of Finance & Administration and culminating as the Assistant Dean for Business & Finance. The Saint Louis University, School of Public Health was in its infancy, and over the next nine years, it was very rewarding to be a part of a new school as it rose to a level of prominence. It is during my time with SLU that I earned an MBA and began the Doctorate of Higher Education. The employee benefit of free tuition was too good to waste!
The next phase of my career brought me to Webster University, for nine years, where I began as the Director of Graduate & Evening Student Admissions, and then promoted to an Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management & Dean of Admissions. This gave me the opportunity to experience to hone my skills in enrollment management, having responsibility for undergraduate, graduate and international admissions and the Office of Financial Aid.
My advice to future public health and health administrative professionals, whether career starters, career enhancers, or career changers, is that every experience is a foundation on which to build. Take stock of your transferable skills to lead the direction of your career.
Teaching Areas & Public Health Interests:
I academically advise students who are working adult professionals in the Master of Public Health Online program. During the initial advising session, I try to help the student understand what courses they need to take, when they need to take them, and project how long it should take for the student to complete the degree. As many of my advisees have heard me say, as a working adult, you have to take the “tortoise” approach, a reference to the story of the tortoise and the hare. It doesn’t matter that you earned your degree in record time. What matters is that you finish what you have started.
It is also important to have a cheerleader on your journey. Someone who understands how hard you have to work to earn your degree, while you are trying to balance work and life at the same time. Earning my own graduate degree as a working adult gives me insight to what the student will experience, but the curriculum is designed that you can earn your master’s degree and not miss your kid’s baseball games.
Professional Activities & Awards:
Currently I serve as a member of the Distance Education Committee, which oversees online programs for the UNT Health Science Center. I also serve as Chair of the Masters Admission Committee and several other committees for the Health Science Center, the School of Public Health, and the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH).
To be clear, I am not a researcher, however, I am interested in higher education administration, especially current books, articles, and other research. On an ongoing basis I do devote time to continuing education in my field, attending various conferences and seminars.