As Marieb College dean, Felton continues on ‘road of excellence’

4 – minute read

After serving as co-acting and interim dean of Marieb College of Health & Human Services since October 2020, Shawn Felton officially removed the word “interim” from his title in May. Felton was selected out of five finalists after a nationwide search to fill the position.


Mark Rieger, executive vice president and provost, made the final decision. “Dr. Felton has built incredible partnerships in the community during his more than three years as interim dean,” says Rieger. “There were many talents in the other four candidates that interviewed for this position, but in the end Dr. Felton had the edge.”


Besides his earlier experience at the university — which included strengthening relationships with important community partners like Arthrex as well as raising over $12 million in philanthropic support — Felton brings a unique quality to his role: charisma.

Marieb College of Health & Human Services dean Shawn Felton
Shawn Felton, Marieb College of Health & Human Services dean, in Marieb Hall.

“He’s a very likable person, and he engages well with people,” Rieger says. “He engenders respect, and he is able to communicate the values of Marieb College in a way that resonates with people. He’s also very fair, and he’s good at making tough decisions.”


According to Rieger, one of the most essential responsibilities of an administrator is making tough decisions. It is also one of the hardest. Felton not only handles these challenges deftly but welcomes them. “You stop leading when people stop bringing you their problems,” says Felton, paraphrasing Colin Powell. “Leadership is about building trust and communicating effectively.”


Felton brings to his new role nearly 20 years of experience at Florida Gulf Coast University. An athletic trainer by profession, he joined FGCU as an instructor and moved up to become assistant professor, associate professor, professor, department chair of health sciences and associate dean of academics in Marieb College.

Despite this seemingly clear path toward his current role, he was originally surprised to find himself in academia.


“Higher education administration was never on my radar,” Felton says. In fact, he was determined to become the head football athletic trainer for a major Division I football team. However, early in his athletic training career, he had the opportunity to work as an assistant football athletic trainer at such a school. It was an experience that would re-route his life trajectory. “I realized that it wasn’t what I wanted,” Felton says.


Joining FGCU in 2005, Felton quickly realized that he’d found a home, both personally and professionally. He decided to earn his doctorate to prepare himself for a career in academia and to shoulder increasing responsibilities at the university.

Those responsibilities weren’t long in coming. He served four years as Faculty Senate president while still a junior faculty member. Concurrently, he also served as a university trustee before being appointed as vice chairman of the FGCU Board of Trustees. He then served two years on the Florida Board of Governors, an experience Felton calls “both a pleasure and a privilege.” It strengthened his understanding of shared governance and his appreciation for how higher education functions, he says.


Throughout Felton’s professional journey, he has continued to travel what he calls “a road of excellence,” striving each day to be a little better. Despite his increasing responsibilities and leadership roles at the university, Felton has managed to continue his own research on musculoskeletal ultrasound imaging, lower extremity biomechanics and electromyography (EMG) — the diagnostic procedure to assess the health of muscles and the nerve cells that control them.

Marieb College of Health & Human Services dean Shawn Felton
"Leadership is about building trust and communicating effectively," Felton says.

Additionally, he is very engaged with the university’s micro-credentialing program, including a digital badge for the medical device industry. This allows him to lean into his passion for preparing students to work in the ever-changing healthcare industry. He also teaches a course on the medical device industry each semester. “I still want to stay grounded and remember why I’m in this business in the first place,” he says. “My students remind me why we’re here — to ensure their success.”


Felton is deeply committed to training the future healthcare workforce of Southwest Florida, ensuring that this community remains one where people want to work and live in.


“I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the last three years while I served as interim dean, and I’m excited to step into the role as dean,” says Felton. “The college is poised for great success, and I’m going to work hard each day to make sure we remain a force here in Southwest Florida and beyond.”

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