When she was in the fourth grade, Dianna Phillips looked out of her southern West Virginia classroom window, contemplated the tree-covered hills she saw there, and thought to herself, “I would like to be on a ship in the middle of the ocean.” She nurtured that thought, and years later she would turn that idea into action as active duty communications specialist in the United States Navy.
For more than 20 years, Dr. Dianna G. Phillips has been turning ideas into action as a leader and as an educational professional, seamlessly working across the boundaries of business and military sectors, as well as in a variety of educational environments from K-12 to R1 institutions.
It’s not surprising that Dr. Phillips would embark on a career as a higher education leader. As a child growing up in southern West Virginia, she took it upon herself to teach her cousins how to read on her Memaw’s back porch, and her love of education and a predisposition for leadership have always been central themes in Dr. Phillips’ life.
Upon her graduation from high school, she joined the United States Navy where she would serve 14 years on active duty as a communications specialist in Hawaii, London, the Bahamas, Iceland, and California. By the time she was 22, she was already on a leadership track, and led an all-female communications team (and yes, she realized her dream of being on a ship in the middle of the ocean).
She began her higher education career at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale serving as an administrator and faculty member, followed by a position at SUNY Brockport as an Assistant Professor. Throughout her career, Dr. Phillips has been selected to take on leadership roles in higher education with increasing levels of responsibility, including serving as Chief Executive Officer of the District of Columbia Community College, Executive Vice President of Educational Services at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey, and Dean of Technical Education at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York, among several others. She is also a permanently certified K-12 School Administrator in New York State.
She possesses a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Foundations of Education with an emphasis in Higher Education Administration from the University of Buffalo, in addition to a Master of Science from Buffalo State College in Student Personnel Administration with an emphasis in Adult Education. Dr. Phillips received a Bachelor of Business Administration with an emphasis in Legal Studies from National University in San Diego, along with an Associate General Studies Degree from Chaminade University in Honolulu.
A lifelong learner, Dr. Phillips’ curiosity has taken her from Memaw’s porch to ports of call around the world and back home again, and she is thrilled to currently serve as Interim President at Fairmont State University.
On February 9, 2023, University Leadership hosted a State of the University address for faculty and staff in the Wallman Hall Theater. You can view the recording and the presented PowerPoint.
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