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Founding dean of School of Health Sciences retires after 27 years at Liberty, 45 years in education and management

Dr. Ralph Linstra spoke at the School of Health Science’s degree presentation ceremony last month in Williams Stadium, where he was specially honored for his 27 years of service to Liberty.

Close to 10 years after founding Liberty University’s School of Health Sciences and serving as its dean since, Dr. Ralph F. Linstra will be entering retirement, leaving a lasting legacy from his 27 years of dedication to Liberty’s students and faculty in different roles and concluding a 45-year career in education.

After earning his Bachelor’s from the King’s College in 1971, he was the recipient of a Kellogg Foundation fellowship to attend the University of Massachusetts, School of Education. Influenced by Dr. Ken Blanchard, he attained both his M.Ed. (1975) and Ed.D. (1976) degrees focused on the organization and administration of higher education academic programs. Following graduation, Dr. Linstra was employed for 15 years in the management of medical education with the Ohio University, College of Osteopathic Medicine, and the University of Massachusetts, College of Medicine in the national AHEC program as well as the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health.

God led him to Liberty University in 1994 to teach Community Health Education and serve as chairman of the newly formed Department of Health Sciences. Concurrently from 2006 to 2010 he served as Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. In 2011, the School of Health Sciences was established and he served as its founding Dean. In 2014, programs in nursing, counseling, and psychology branched off into the Schools of Nursing and Behavioral Sciences.

Dr. Linstra continued in his role as School Dean for the Departments of Biology & Chemistry, Allied Health Professions, and Public & Community Health. In this role, he has led in the development of several new residential, online, and blended degree programs. His motivational style of leadership has assisted faculty to create new degree majors in Biochemistry, Biomedical (Pre-Med), Biopsychology, Chemistry, Cell & Molecular Biology, Environmental Biology, Forensic Science, and Zoology and Wildlife in addition to a M.S. in Biomedical Sciences.

Dr. Ralph Linstra with his wife, Judy

He was also supportive of faculty in the development of a master’s degree in Athletic Training, the M.S. in Exercise Science and the Master’s of Public Health. The MPH program is one of the largest in the world with a continuing rolling enrollment of 600+ students and is fully accredited by the C.E.P.H. The School of Health Sciences has eight fully accredited academic programs and provides students with a variety of options in which they can find God’s direction for a career.

Dr. Stephen W. Eakin, Associate Professor and one of four physicians who have left the practice of medicine to teach in the School of Health Sciences, said, “Dr. Ralph Linstra is a man of great faith and integrity. His leadership has been exemplary and his thoughtful, loving, fun, and encouraging attitude has meant so much to the faculty serving LU. His work has been foundational to the success of our students. He will be greatly missed.”

“Dr. Ralph Linstra’s many contributions to Liberty University have been invaluable,” said Liberty Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Scott Hicks. “His genuine love for his work was surpassed even more so by his love for his students. We will all miss his wisdom and guidance, and we wish him well as he enters the next chapter God has planned for him.”