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Liberty mourns death of Dr. Ralph Linstra, founding dean of School of Health Sciences

Former Liberty University School of Health Sciences Dean Dr. Ralph Linstra, 75, died on May 12. Linstra left a lasting legacy in his 45-year career in education, which included 27 years of dedication to Liberty students and faculty.

Linstra arrived at Liberty in 1994 to teach Community Health Education and serve as chairman of the newly formed Department of Health Sciences. He went on to serve concurrently from 2006 to 2010 as Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences before taking on the role of dean of the newly established School of Health Sciences in 2011. In 2014, programs in nursing, counseling, and psychology branched off into the Schools of Nursing and Behavioral Sciences and Linstra continued in his role as dean, leading the Departments of Biology & Chemistry, Allied Health Professions, and Public & Community Health. He led the development of several new residential, online, and blended degree programs. His motivational style of leadership 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. 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 of Public Health (MPH).

Linstra retired from Liberty in 2021.

“Liberty University is grateful for the life and legacy of Dr. Ralph Linstra that was marked by his deep devotion to the Lord, his love for family, and his genuine care for students,” said Liberty Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Scott Hicks. “While we mourn his passing and we continue to pray for his family, we are comforted in knowing that Dr. Linstra has entered into the joy of our risen Savior.”

After earning his bachelor’s from the King’s College in 1971, Linstra was the recipient of a Kellogg Foundation fellowship to attend the University of Massachusetts, School of Education, where he earned his M.Ed. (1975) and Ed.D. (1976) focused on the organization and administration of higher education academic programs. 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.

A service is being planned near his former home in Massachusetts.

Dr. Ralph Linstra with his wife, Judy, at Commencement 2021, where he was specially honored for his 27 years of service during the School of Health Sciences’ degree presentation ceremony. (Photo by Chase Gyles)
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