Updated: October 13th, 2020

Steven Combs, Ph.D., has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer for Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH), announced Adele Wilzack, chair of MUIH’s Board of Trustees today.

“Dr. Combs has devoted the majority of his professional life to the field of higher education, with more than 18 years in leadership positions. He has been a lifelong learner, faculty member, researcher, academic administrator, published author, and scholarly presenter.  During Dr. Combs’ exemplary career, his demonstrated successes and chosen priorities have been beautifully aligned with the strategic imperatives for MUIH and will serve us well in the coming years.” said Wilzack.

Wilzack said Dr. Combs is the right person arriving at just the right time for MUIH.

“He has the strength and conviction to be the leader who will move MUIH closer toward our mission and vision. He has the ability, energy, and commitment to help us to reach our potential and become an increasingly vibrant and prominent University. His intelligence and passion, combined with our support and encouragement, will allow him to quickly learn about and become a true advocate for our University and our fields,” said Wilzack.

Dr. Combs most recently served as Executive Vice President and Provost of Drury University in Springfield, MO, and previously served in leadership positions at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and Hawaii Pacific University. In these roles, he has seen success in launching academic programs, enhancing the student experience, expanding alumni relations, leveraging strategic partnerships, and implementing capital campaigns. He has led change with grace and integrity while strategically planning for a preferred future.

Before becoming an academic administrator, Dr. Combs had a distinguished career as a faculty member, teaching in communication studies. He holds a Ph.D. in Communication Arts and Sciences from the University of Southern California, with an emphasis on rhetoric and public address. He completed his M.A. in Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, and his B.A. at the University of Southern California. He has presented his scholarly work on three continents, and has been published in many top, peer-reviewed journals. His published works include Useless-/Usefulness of Argument: The Dao of Disputation; The Dao of Communication Criticism: Insects, Individuals, and Mass Society; and Sun-zi and the Art of War: The Rhetoric of Parsimony.

In accepting the appointment, Dr. Combs said, “I am honored and humbled by the Board’s faith in me to lead MUIH at this moment in the University’s history. It is clear that I stand today between a vibrant past and a future filled with promise and potential.”

“The founders and elders of this community pioneered a bold vision with courageous determination. From this, they planted the seeds for continued growth in the field of integrative health. The leadership that followed nurtured these seeds and positioned MUIH as one of the premier academic institutions for natural medicine,” said Dr. Combs.

Dr. Combs will assume the role of President and CEO on April 1, 2017, and his first day on campus will be April 3. Interim President and CEO John Palmucci will continue in service to assist with the transition. Palmucci stepped into the interim role on July 1, 2016, after the retirement of previous President and CEO Frank Vitale, who had served as president since 2010. The university’s co-founder and first president, Bob Duggan, who served from its creation as an acupuncture clinic in 1974 through 2010, passed away in the fall of 2016.

“I am fully committed to the pioneering spirit of the elders and the traditions of this community, and share their belief in the capacity for nature and relationships to heal,” said Dr. Combs. “I am equally committed to leading the University to maximize its ability to shape the landscape of healthcare for future generations.”

The process to identify MUIH’s new leader was designed to be as inclusive and transparent as possible, and included many voices through all phases of the search. The feedback from our community, the recommendation of the Search Committee, and the thinking of the Board all converged to endorse Dr. Combs as MUIH’s candidate of choice and next President.

Board Chair Wilzack expressed her gratitude for all who invested their time in the search process, and especially the members of the Search Committee chaired by Dr. Anne Lin, member of the MUIH Board of Trustees and dean of the School of Pharmacy at Notre Dame of Maryland University.

“Many of us who have met and learned about Dr. Combs have recognized in him a kindred spirit,” Wilzack said. “The way in which he leads, based on relationships and trust, the way he spoke about the work ahead of MUIH with insight and enthusiasm, and his stated yearning to be part of a culture that values inclusiveness and excellence resonated with many of us.”

For more information:

  • Presidential Profile: Developed for the presidential search, this profile of MUIH search outlines the specific leadership qualities that the Board and Search Committee determined as necessary to fulfill our mission in the coming years.
  • Biography: Learn more about Dr. Steven Combs
  • Cover Letter and CV: Read Dr. Combs’ application materials
  • Search Process: Read more about the search process and see the members of the Search Committee.