Janet B. Sommers, Ph.D.

Janet B. Sommers, Ph.D.

Provost | Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs


Nazareth Hall, N2318
3003 Snelling Ave. N
St Paul, MN 55113



Dr. Janet Sommers joined the University of Northwestern faculty in 1991. From 2003-2009, Sommers served as chair of Northwestern’s Department of English and Literature, where she developed new concentrations and minors, and more than doubled the number of English majors. She has published articles on Harriet Beecher Stowe and the literary interpretation of the Bible, receiving University of Northwestern’s Excellence in Teaching Award In 2005.


Since January 2010, Sommers has served as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs (SVPAA) and as Provost since September 2020. In these roles, Sommers has engaged with faculty to support student learning, expand academically excellent programming, and facilitate innovative solutions to changing student needs. She has ensured the broadening and deepening of shared governance and worked with faculty to launch bachelor’s degrees in nursing, engineering, data analytics, and computer science, and master’s degrees in business, education, and ministry.


Sommers has overseen the implementation of multiple initiatives which have impacted and extended the student experience. She expanded online dual enrollment programs to on-campus and on-site offerings, offered the first zero-cost textbook degree (Z-degree) in Minnesota, launched initiatives in blended learning and open textbooks, and established the Center for Global Programs.

Championing the rigor and quality of academic offerings, Sommers oversaw the institution’s Higher Learning Commission quality initiative and ten-year reaccreditation processes. Her leadership of the university’s pandemic response efforts involves the oversight of multiple collaborative, cross-divisional teams.


Sommers’s influence has extended to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, where she led the CAO Commission for two years, serving for six. She is passionate about developing aspiring leaders and has served as a resource leader and mentor for several CCCU Leadership Development Institutes.


Sommers earned a bachelor’s degree in English education from Gwynedd-Mercy College, a master’s degree in English from the University of Toledo, and a doctoral degree in English from the University of Minnesota.


She and her husband Daniel reside in New Brighton, Minnesota. They are blessed with two grown sons, Elliot, who lives in Minneapolis, and Graham, who lives with his wife Hope in Milwaukee.