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John Carroll University President Alan R. Miciak today announced the appointment of Melissa Cole, DNP, APRN, ANP-BC, CENP, as the institution’s inaugural Dean of the College of Health. Cole previously served as the Inaugural Director of Nursing and Strategic Health Care Initiatives, a role she has held since November 2022. She was named Interim Dean on September 1, 2023.


“Melissa is a proven leader who combines a keen industry knowledge with the vision to enhance John Carroll’s academic portfolio and student outcomes across the healthcare landscape,” said Miciak.

In 15 months on the job, she has established a reputation for effective communication, strategic collaboration, and an empathetic focus on caring for each student as a whole person. We are thrilled to appoint Melissa to this pivotal role and excited as we continue to establish the College of Health as a launch pad for future healthcare professionals.

Prior to John Carroll, Dr. Cole most recently served Cleveland-based University Hospitals as Vice President for Integrated Delivery Operations. A nurse practitioner in emergency medicine, she has 20 years of clinical experience, healthcare administration leadership, and higher education experience.


“My goal as the leader of the College of Health at John Carroll University is to develop a team focused on developing mission-driven healthcare leaders who are prepared to address public health disparities with compassion and innovation,” said Dr. Cole.


In order to effectively tackle these disparities, it’s imperative that we expand our efforts in cultivating a diverse student body. This means increasing our pipeline and bolstering support for students from a wide array of backgrounds, ensuring they are fully equipped to meet the complex demands of healthcare today.
low fidelity nursing simulation lab

John Carroll’s College of Health was launched in December 2023, joining the Boler College of Business and College of Arts and Sciences. The College builds on an existing interdisciplinary curriculum that has trained students in pre-health professions, direct care professions, basic, translational, and clinical research, and the business of healthcare for decades. It includes the recently launched Bachelor of Science in Nursing, which enrolled more than 50 students in the inaugural cohort this academic year and has seen a 70% increase in applications for the Fall 2024 cohort.


The College of Health also includes the departments of Counseling and Exercise Science and Sports Leadership, both of which offer masters degrees in fields that advance interprofessional opportunities for students at John Carroll. Affiliated programs include a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis, Masters in Exercise Physiology, and Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, as well as a new major in Public Health and a new minor in Healthcare Career Foundations. Additional academic healthcare majors are in development.


More than 1,500 JCU alumni currently work in healthcare fields. These alumni – and so many who came before them – benefited from an interdisciplinary approach which blends the institution’s Jesuit ethos with the advanced educational frameworks of the Boler College of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences. 

“Melissa has been a key player in conceptualizing and building out the College of Health at John Carroll from the beginning,” said Bonnie Gunzenhauser, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs.

“Her vision, energy, and collaborative interprofessional approach have accelerated and enriched our move into the healthcare space in northeast Ohio. I'm thrilled to have her as our inaugural dean and I am confident that she will do great things to position our College of Health as a resource for our students and our region.
Cole nursing lab

At University Hospitals, Dr. Cole served in a variety of leadership capacities beginning in 2016 as Vice President for the Center for Emergency Medicine, where she was responsible for leading and developing strategic initiatives across 21 emergency departments. In 2020, during the pandemic, she was named Acting System Chief Nurse Executive and Clinical Operations Chief,  with responsibility for a wide range of clinical services including nursing education. Most recently, in her role as Vice President for Integrated Delivery Options, Dr. Cole was tasked with shaping the value-focused strategy to enhance clinical quality and ease of access for patients across the University Hospitals Health System. 


Prior to UH, Dr. Cole served in growing leadership roles at Tampa General Hospital including two years as Trauma Program Manager and three years as Director of Emergency, Psychiatric, and Trauma Services.


Dr. Cole spent three years at the beginning of her career as a staff nurse and clinical instructor at the Cleveland Clinic followed by three more years as a nurse manager and neuroscience director at HCA Brandon Regional Hospital near Tampa, Florida. 


Academically, Dr. Cole has served as clinical faculty at the University of Tampa, and is currently adjunct faculty at Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing.


She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Ursuline College in 2003, a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Tampa in 2012, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice from Case Western Reserve University in January of 2023. 


woman and man looking at computer and man on treadmill with breathing device

Dr. Cole’s appointment and the announcement of a College of Health continues the momentum created by strategic investments in the student experience at John Carroll including the construction of an Athletics, Wellness & Event Center (set to open in Winter 2025), renovations to multiple residence halls and the D.J. Lombardo Student Center, enhancements to the Grasselli Library and Breen Learning Center including the Mastrantoni Family Student Success Commons, and the grand opening of the Nader Family Simulation Center, including two Nursing labs, to support the BSN program. 


“I am committed to fostering a collaborative environment that bridges healthcare professionals, health technology innovators, and health researchers,” added Dr. Cole. “Our inaugural healthcare UNconference in October was just the beginning. By uniting these sectors, we can harness a wealth of knowledge and creativity to overcome the challenges facing healthcare. It’s not just about having conversations; it’s about actionable collaboration that leads to real-world solutions.


She continued, “Together, we will cultivate a new generation of healthcare leaders – ones who not only navigate the intricacies of health disparities, but are also champions of change, driven by innovation, inclusivity, and a deep-rooted commitment to improving public health for all.”