Office of the President

PNWU Office of the President


PNWU President, Michael J. Lawler, MSW, PhD

Dr. Lawler brings 35 years of professional experience in health and human services, including 24 years as a successful leader and administrator in higher education, to the rapidly expanding health sciences university. 

As the Dean and Professor of the School of Health Sciences at the University of South Dakota (USD), Dr. Lawler led ten academic departments and helped to cement the USD School of Health Sciences as a national leader in interprofessional health sciences education. Alongside internal and external partners and colleagues, he helped to create new programs and research centers, doubled student enrollment, improved graduation rates, increased student scholarships, grew funding for faculty and student research, elevated financial reserves, and raised funds to construct a new teaching and research facility for USD’s Doctor of Occupational Therapy and Doctor of Physical Therapy programs — the very programs PNWU aims to add next.

Prior to joining USD in 2010, Dr. Lawler worked at the University of California, Davis (UCD) for 16 years, serving as Director of the Center for Human Services, Co-Director of the Center for Public Policy Research, and Chair of UC Davis Extension. At UCD, he partnered with a wide array of stakeholders, including all 58 California counties, state agencies, tribal governments, and federal agencies, as well as business leaders, to secure $130M of extramural funding to create several self-supporting research, practice, and education centers focused on developing policies and practices in health and human services. He remains a faculty affiliate of the UCD Center for Public Policy Research.

In addition to his academic leadership, Dr. Lawler has authored and co-authored more than 80 publications and served as the United States Principal Investigator of Children’s Worlds: International Survey of Children’s Well-Being, an international research project that assesses the health and well-being of children in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. Additionally, he is an appointed member and chair-elect of the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Children, Youth and Families.

Past PNWU Presidents

2005 - 2006     Gregory Mick, DO

2006 - 2007     Fred Tinning, DO

2008 - 2009     Stanley Fleming, DO

2009 - 2012     Lloyd Butler, DO

2012 - 2018     D. Keith Watson, DO

Resolution Commendation of D. Keith Watson as President Emeritus

June 2018 - Oct. 2018     Robert Sutton, PhD


*President Emeritus

President Emeritus status is bestowed by the Board of Trustees to honor a retired president who provided outstanding and distinguished service to PNWU and who has demonstrated exceptional commitment and contributions to PNWU, exemplifying the highest standards of personal and professional integrity, civic responsibility, vision and leadership. The designation identifies the University president as a continuing member of the PNWU community.

Contact Information

  • Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences
    111 University Parkway, Suite 202
    Yakima, WA 98901


Iron Horse Lodge
111 University Parkway, Suite 202
Yakima, WA 98901

Vikki Gore
Executive Assistant to the President