We live in a time of great possibilities for the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) at WKU. As CHHS students, instructors, staff, practitioners, and researchers, we are presented with boundless opportunities for innovation to train future generations of health and human service professionals for South Central Kentucky and beyond. Careers in health and human services touch lives, soothe and heal individuals and families, improve the health and well-being of Kentuckians, and change groups and organizations.
My past three months as Dean of CHHS have been extremely busy but exhilarating with so many important activities in and around campus and meeting so many friends and key stakeholders of CHHS. This time has been valuable to grasp all of the wonderful accomplishments of our faculty, staff and students and imagining and projecting the future for CHHS.
As a leader, I aspire to tap into the collective intelligence of not only my leadership team, but also the entire college. I am a strong proponent of using a technique called appreciative inquiry as a means of exploring future possibilities to strengthen healthy organizations. Simply put, appreciative inquiry is about making what works even more effective. Instead of being preoccupied with the negative and uncovering the flaws, I have been focusing on where each person’s and groups’ strengths reside. I have also been focusing on what is possible and desirable for the future, treating hope and joy as powerful motivating factors. I have been active in what I call the discover mode. I have been engaging in great discussions with so many people to find out where the college’s successes are and which factors are producing them.
As we move forward, CHHS needs to invest strategically. We should place our bets on areas that build on our strengths and advance the priorities of WKU. Therefore, my desire to develop an academic community in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When considering options for strategic investment, I will strive to find balance between health and human services, teaching, research and service, publications and grants, undergraduate and graduate education, and basic and applied research. I will work hard to nurture a vibrant intellectual environment that balances excellence in all of these important activities.
As a way to disseminate information about all of the amazing things CHHS is doing, I have created a blog, “Chatting with Chumbler.” This blog provides an opportunity for me to focus attention on noteworthy accomplishments, current plans, student honors, and all the amazing activities going on in CHHS. News stories and Tweets provide a good snapshot of what we are about, but in upcoming blogs, you’ll meet some wonderful individuals who make this college great, you’ll hear stories about how our community projects are changing lives, and you’ll see ways in which our students are growing as individuals while taking advantage of quality educational opportunities. Many of these opportunities could not be accomplished without the generous support of our friends and stakeholders.
In my meetings with students and alumni, I hear touching stories of faculty, advisors, and staff who have made a difference. That has been the tradition of CHHS – making a difference in the lives of our students – and I have seen an abundance of evidence that we are doing this very well. Thank you for championing it.