Dr. Larinee Dennis
Features Spring 2022

Following God’s Call to Bison Hill

As the dean of business, health science and education, Dr. Larinee Dennis leads the School of Nursing, the Paul Dickinson School of Business, the James E. Hurley School of Science and Mathematics, the Henry F. McCabe Family School of Education, and the Division of Exercise Science, Sports and Recreation.

Dennis came to OBU in June 2021 from Hannibal-LaGrange University where she served as vice president for academic administration and professor of teacher education. She began teaching at HLGU in fall 2008 and previously served as director of teacher education, interim associate dean of academic administration and assistant dean of academic administration. She spent several years teaching in public schools in Missouri, both as a fifth-grade classroom teacher and as a middle school communication arts teacher, before launching her career in higher education. She also served as vice president of the Hannibal Christian Academy school board.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Hannibal-LaGrange College, graduating as valedictorian with honors, with endorsements in middle school math, communication arts and social studies. She then earned a Master of Science in education in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Doctor of Philosophy in curriculum and instruction from New Mexico State University. Her dissertation was titled, “How are Teachers Integrating Technology in K-5 Classrooms? Studying Student Cognitive Engagement Using the Instructional Practices Inventory-Technology (IPI-T) Instrument.” Her research interests include classroom technology integration, higher-order thinking instructional practices, instructional practices inventory (IPI), higher education student engagement, higher education institutional processes and higher education leadership.

Dennis is married to her college sweetheart, Chris, and together they have three children, Jachin, Jada and Jaina.

What excites you most about being OBU’s dean of business, health science and education?

I am most excited to serve in this role at OBU because I know God led me here. It is a position that uses my talents, skills and experience well and I am thrilled to be a part of the Kingdom work of Christian higher education.

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your position?

The most rewarding aspect of my position is working with the amazing OBU faculty and staff. These people are God-honoring, genuine, hard-working, intelligent and passionate about their work. It is a joy to join them.

What are some of the most challenging aspects of your position?

The most challenging aspect of any administrative position is the tyranny of the urgent. Sometimes the most important strategic work I need to be doing is interrupted by the immediate needs of a current problem which must be solved.

What are some of your main job responsibilities as dean?

There are many day-to-day responsibilities that aren’t very exciting, like attending meetings and answering emails. But I believe my main responsibility as dean is to equip others around me to accomplish the work God has called them to do. My vocational mission statement is, “Humbly lead by equipping and encouraging my fellow laborers in Christian higher education to serve excellently and flourish professionally according to God’s personal calling in their life.” This is how I view my role as dean.

What do you think sets OBU apart from other universities?

Like many Christian universities, OBU prides itself on classroom excellence and integration of faith, and I agree we do these things well. Additionally, one of the things that I have been most surprised by is the sense of school pride and the many traditions that set apart OBU from other Christian universities. 

What is something that might surprise people about being dean?

One thing that might surprise people about being dean is that the two most important things I do all day long is listen and ask questions.

Why did you decide to come to OBU?

God really led me here. Although I was quite happy in my previous role, I just knew God was asking me to consider a change and trust him with a career move.

What are some things you enjoy doing when away from the office?

When away from the office, I enjoy spending time with my husband and three kids (ages 2, 7 and 11). Additionally, I enjoy thrift store shopping and crafting. I also love serving with fellow believers at church. Before we moved to Oklahoma, I was very involved leading worship and children’s ministries. I am still asking the Lord about where He wants me to serve in our new church.

Why should students come to OBU to study business, health science and education?

OBU’s programs in the schools and divisions of business, health science and education are excellent. The curriculum is designed with intentionality to integrate faith, and the faculty are experts in their fields. Additionally, the faculty are committed Christians who care about the success of each and every student in their academic pursuits and their personal lives. This combination produces graduates who really understand what it means to live all of life, all for Jesus.