Pritchard, who has served the college as associate dean for eight years, will work closely with chairs of the college’s three schools, their faculty leaders and university administrators to represent the best interests of the college.
“I’m excited to have a new way to serve the college. I’m very appreciative of the confidence that the provost has shown in making this appointment,” said Pritchard, who joined the faculty more than 30 years ago to teach family and consumer economics.
“Our college is growing very quickly, and our programs are of a critical need to many people in society. I want to continue to move the college forward in the right direction,” she added. “I am a consensus builder, and I know we all will pull together during this transition. I’ve been involved in and part of many of the college’s new initiatives and I’m familiar with the college faculty, staff and students. I know and respect all of my colleagues, and this is going to be a team effort.”
The presence of Pritchard will ensure a smooth transition in the college’s front office, said Provost Ray Alden, who hopes to launch a search in the fall for a permanent dean for the college.
“Mary has served in key leadership roles in the college for a number of years,” Alden said. “She is very familiar with the faculty and staff as well as the challenges and opportunities that the college faces.”
Pritchard, who earned her Ph.D. at Purdue University, became chair of the School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences in 1992 and held that job 10 years.
She has taught 13 different courses and more than 13,000 students, most of those coming before her appointment as chair. Her scholarship and research come in the areas of family economic well-being, family financial counseling and planning, economic socialization of adolescents, family-friendly government policies and adolescent employment.
With an enrollment of more than 3,900 undergraduate and graduate students, the College of Health and Human Sciences is NIU’s fastest-growing college.
“We have a good diversity of very strong and competitive programs that students are drawn to,” she said, “and some areas with 100 percent employment of our graduates.”
Pritchard’s university service includes NIU’s University Council and Faculty Senate, the Council of Curricular Deans and Council of Advising Deans and the University Assessment Panel.
Her committee work includes strategic planning, baccalaureate review, enrollment management and the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women.
She also was a co-writer of a grant funded by the Illinois Board of Higher Education to establish the Illinois Homeland Security Education Center.
In her college, which also houses the School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, Pritchard has chaired the curriculum committee, the committee on grants and awards and the academic reinstatement and dismissal review committee. She also was a member of the college council and college senate.
Outside NIU, she was president and held other offices with Kappa Omicron Nu, the national honor society in family and consumer sciences, and remains active in training the national board of directors each year.
Pritchard is also a nine-year member of the DeKalb County Community Foundation.
She and her husband, Robert, live in Hinckley. They have two grown sons and two grandchildren.