Reflections from Cherry: Health as a Necessity

Shortly after my arrival back to the Hill to serve as Dean of CHHS, I met with Provost Emeritus Barbara Burch. She gave me a copy of the 1926 book, Education: The Basis of Democracy, written by WKU’s founding president, Dr. Henry Hardin Cherry. Dr. Cherry, who was president for over 31 years, was a prominent visionary and educator whose decree “The Spirit Makes the Master” steers the campus community yet today. Dr. Cherry’s famous and pronounced statue is fixed atop the hill in front of the building named after him.  His presence at WKU is evident to anyone who arrives on the Hilltop campus.

Cherry edit

Cherry’s Education book was a compilation of messages, lectures and presentations that he delivered at chapel services held daily in the Van Meter Auditorium on WKU’s campus. It is no wonder that WKU became one of the largest and best teacher-training institutions in the nation during Cherry’s tenure. Cherry was an educator with the keen ability to inspire others.

Reading through this book, with material dating well over 100 years old, I am amazed at the relevance of the material in our lives today. I find the material particularly applicable for the CHHS. As I read from chapter five, “Health, a Necessity in a Democracy”, I was struck with how Cherry’s words were so pertinent for units in CHHS such as: physical education, recreation administration, public health, nutrition, and dietetics, just to name a few.

Excerpts from chapter five of Cherry’s Education: The Basis of Democracy:

  • Religious, moral, mental, and economic weaknesses are written at the bottom on each page of the history of the governments that have neglected the health of their people (pg. 28).
  • In order for one to be an effective citizen, he must have a strong body for the soul to work in, a trained mind, and what I shall call ‘the other thing’. These are the three big necessities of an effective citizenship, and they should be a part of educational program and every other effort designed to advance the welfare of the human being (pg. 27).
  • Not many people are strong enough to carry the load of a sick body and to succeed in spite of physical weakness (pg. 28).
  • Good health is the normal nature of the human being (pg. 29).
  • It is a high duty of democracy to disseminate health information among the masses, to build up a good-health sentiment, to protect the people against preventable diseases, and to assist them in having a sanitary body for their minds to work in (pg. 30-31).
  • Universal physical training is the most important and urgent improvement in American education (pg. 31).
  • The conservation of health is a spiritual and economic problem that is challenging every citizen of America (pg. 31).
  • In order to promote the physical well-being of all the people, a proper system of physical examinations and health instruction must be carried on in the various grades of the schools (pg. 33).
  • Conserving the vitality of the people by stopping the pollution of streams, by observing the sanitary laws of health in the home, in the school, in business enterprise, and elsewhere will contribute not only to the ideals and to the happiness, but to the economic productivity and prosperity of the people (pg. 33-34).

In this chapter, Cherry describes how the health of the individual can also affect the non-physical qualities of the human body. Poor health can alter the morality, spirituality, and mental capacity as well. He went on to make a poignant claim that during the World War 4,650,500 men served in the United States Army and 1,340,625 men were rejected to serve based on physical disability. That is an astonishing number of rejections especially when you consider the age of the average man who fought in World War II was a mere 26 years of age. Cherry then states that most of the defects listed as the cause for rejection were preventable by adequate physical education programs.

“Health as a rule is a purchasable commodity, and its price is education.”

Cherry’s book dovetails so nicely with the vision and mission of CHHS; our dedication to improve the quality of life in the community through education, service, collaboration, leadership and scholarship. The disciplines in our college have roots in outreach to the community, and requires our students to complete clinical experiences, field work, or internships with a myriad of health and human service agencies in our region. What Cherry established in his chapel talks, was inspiration to care for generations to come by focusing on the conservation of health in the present generation. What we do today, creates what we are tomorrow. As our college evolves, and emphasis is placed on the future of CHHS, I am indebted to Cherry’s practical and relevant teachings on the importance and priority of our health today as the basis and foundation for everything else. As a health and human services college, CHHS has the responsibility to not only provide health education to our community, but to also be ambassadors and champions for making health instruction a vital component of education.

I am encouraged to know that WKU was in part built upon the instruction and discipline of good health and physical well-being. This foundation serves as an opportunity to guide CHHS from the heritage of our founding president.

Physical incompetence can be a powerful enemy. CHHS has positioned itself to have a profound generational impact over the enemy. As we educate ourselves, our students and our community about prevention, treatment and wellness, we are better able to perform at the capacity to which we can protect our generation and preserve future generations.



CHHS Strategic Plan, 2016-2020

As I begin my 18th month as Dean, I am so pleased to unveil our new strategic plan and it is now retrievable, Western Kentucky University (WKU) College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) Strategic Plan. From my first day as Dean, I have strived to obtain strategic balance in the functions of teaching, research and service, balancing stability and flexibility. I believe you will find this strategic plan nimble, yet profound with a great breadth of material that will guide CHHS through 2020, and that will inspire all to excel in pedagogy, scholarship and community service.

We revisited and revised our mission and vision statements, as important changes in the environment have occurred. The strategic plan also includes a summary of our planning process, our core values, vision/mission, strategic intent as well as our strategic objectives, as described here:

  1. Implement effective faculty development programs to enhance the quality of teaching and learning.
  2. Enhance existing international educational opportunities and develop new ones.
  3. Increase the opportunity to produce quality research, peer-reviewed publications, extramural grant/contract activity, and technology-based innovation.
  4. Enhance interprofessional education and service learning for students.
  5. Initiate and cultivate CHHS interdisciplinary collaboration at all levels within the University.
  6. Create an environment within CHHS that fosters diversity and inclusivity among students, staff and faculty.
  7. Provide opportunities for staff, faculty, and students to participate in community outreach programs.
  8. Implement workshop events for staff trainings and professional development.
  9. Implement the distribution of a staff handbook for quick reference to university systems.

In a previous blog, CHHS Strategic Plan: Phase 1 I articulated that it was important that CHHS had an active and relevant strategic plan, all of which is imperative for purposes of communication, marketing, and fundraising. We needed to identify high-priority areas that can help us accelerate more significant positive impact upon allied health and human service professions. Support for decisions is predicated on the ownership of decision making. The process of the strategic plan began 12 months ago and I strived for “bottom up” participation as a way to ensure support for this final version of the plan.

The first phase of the strategic planning process consisted of a one-day retreat held August 2015, that included the CHHS Administrative Council (Department Heads, Institute Directors, Associate Deans, Assistant to the Dean, Senior Development officer and myself) and our facilitator. Our facilitator was Dr. Dan Pesut, Professor of Nursing at the University of Minnesota. We learned several novel and innovative leadership techniques including strengths based and values based leadership and universal patterns of high performance, the principles of liberating structures (rules governing how we choose to relate to others), and ecocycle planning that invites a leader to focus on creative destruction and renewal in addition to typical themes regarding growth and efficiency. Then in January, the second phase of the strategic planning process was a one-day retreat. All CHHS faculty and staff, along with CHHS stakeholders and students attended the retreat. At this retreat, we used Open Space Technology (OST) that considers both freedom & accountability where participants create their own agenda. We sparked action on strategic matters that meant the most to the participants. OST is an effective, economical, fast and easily-repeatable strategy for organizing meetings between 5 and 1,000 participants. We had nearly 300 individuals participate in this event and started with the following premises:

    • Where do we have successes we can celebrate?
    • Where do we have assets we can capitalize on?
    • Strived for this bottom up planning as a way to ensure support for the final products.

We considered topics such as interprofessional education, applied research, teaching effectiveness, service learning, media and marketing, just to name a few. So many notes and ideas were put forward from so many participants. The OST platform enabled an egalitarian way of fostering input and sharing of information. After this productive day in January, I met with my, CHHS Dean’s Internal Advisory Council and then formed a new CHHS Coordinating Council that included equal representation from each department/school. Both of these groups compiled these detailed notes and, in turn, synthesized the key salient themes. A draft was developed by the CHHS Coordinating Council and provided to the CHHS Dean’s Internal Advisory Council, which reviewed the final draft. The final draft was then given to the CHHS Administrative Council to review. Significant feedback emerged from this draft and a sub-committee from each of these committees assisted me in preparing the final version of the strategic plan.

In sum, this plan was the result of many dedicated individuals committed to CHHS. We will review the plan every year and will not have a failure for follow-up. I am excited for what the next four years will entail at CHHS.

Excited for the journey,


Welcome Back to the Hill!

Today is the first official day of Fall 2016 semester start, and what an exciting time it is to be a Hilltopper! Our faculty and staff within the College of Health & Human Services (CHHS), have been busy preparing not only for this very first week of class, but also for this entire academic year and beyond. Shortly after my arrival to WKU in Spring 2015, I put plans together to work collaboratively with faculty, staff, students and constituents to develop a strategic plan for CHHS, as described in my blog entry, CHHS Strategic Planning: Phase I and CHHS: Strategic Planning: Phase II . There have been some challenges, a few setbacks and many wins. As the CHHS transitions into the next phase of development, it is essential that we are mindful of the CHHS value statement:

Collectively, we are challenged to be human change agents by creating a community of scholars dedicated to the education of next generation health and human services practitioners who are committed to enhancing the quality of life and health where people live, work, and play.


Creating a Community of Scholars:

While it is one of our goals to consistently recruit top talent into our college, it is also impeccable to make sure our infrastructure supports that goal. As reflected in our values statement, CHHS is challenged to create a community of scholars dedicated to the education of next generation health and human services practitioners. This week we hosted our bi-annual CHHS All College Meeting for our faculty and staff. These meetings, held before the start of the academic term, bring light to our upcoming goals, the challenges we face, and provides opportunity to recognize achievements and awards.

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CHHS All College Meeting- August 17, 2016 at the Medical Health Sciences Complex

Being the largest college on campus, we have an equally large base of faculty and staff, with nearly 250 colleagues that support our college. I am honored to be working as Dean of a college that boasts such rich tradition, research and service at WKU. At the meeting, we were honored to bring recognition to the 57 colleagues within our college that have served over 10 years at Western Kentucky University, as well as honor 18 colleagues that have served over 20 years at Western Kentucky University. It is humbling to see the committed dedication our colleagues bring to both WKU and the CHHS.

CHHS Faculty & Staff with over 10 years of service to WKU.
CHHS faculty & staff with over 10 years of service to WKU.
CHHS Faculty and Staff with over 20 years of service to WKU!
CHHS faculty and staff with over 20 years of service to WKU.

We also recognized six colleagues for receiving advanced degrees in their respective fields.

I am thankful for the team we have in place at CHHS. Our success, as a college to be human change agents committed to enhancing the quality of life and health where people live, work and play, is as great as the people committed to our core. Without a doubt, I believe we have a resplendent basis for success at CHHS!


Committed to enhancing the quality of life and health:

As a college that has faced budget cuts and limitations to our resources, we are constantly re-evaluating our processes and structure to maximize our tools at hand when equipping our faculty, staff and students. Committed to excellence in the allied health and human service industries, CHHS and WKU are always striving to maintain an edge in this competitive and ever-demanding field. So, I cannot be more excited about the new partnership that was established just last week between Western Kentucky University and Med Center Health, in the construction of the Med Center Health Sports Medicine Complex on WKU’s campus. This new healthcare and affiliation agreement between WKU and Med Center Health further strengthens the commitment of leading education and healthcare service organizations in South Central Kentucky, and also creates an opportunity for the CHHS Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program to re-locate to main campus (DPT currently located off-campus at the Medical Health Sciences Complex), and be joined by Med Center Health’s Orthopaedic/Sports Medicine/Rehabilitation group. This new partnership and building engages our DPT program with our WKU athletic teams in a new state-of-the-art facility.

We have so many great successes, resources, projects, contributions, support, research and planning taking place in the CHHS, and I expect a grand, unparalleled 2016-2017 academic year on the Hill!

Warm Regards,


Mount Carmel, Israel: Experiencing, Learning, Collaborating

The University of Haifa (UH) experience was very productive and splendid. As my most recent blog entry indicated, Strengthening CHHS’ Global Footprint , I traveled last week to initiate discussions with several UH officials to establish a new Global Health summer program as a study abroad option for Masters (and Honors) and an international teaching option for faculty within CHHS.  What a wonderful experience it was for me to not only visit with the UH as we worked to establish a new study abroad program, but to also learn of the rich history within the towns of Mount Carmel.

The city of Haifa, where the UH is located, is Israel’s third largest city. Haifa is located on the northern slope of Mount Carmel, which is a coastal mountain range in northern Israel that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea towards the southeast. I had the opportunity to travel through much terrain from the Baha’i Gardens to the Mediterranean Sea, to Caesarea Palace, and the Sea of Galilee. The views were breathtaking, the history was fascinating and the people were engaging.

Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea on top of Mt. Carmel.
Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea on top of Mt. Carmel.

Sitting beside the administrators of UH, felt like I was sitting among my colleagues at WKU. We shared a vision and a passion for the empowerment of educating our students with limited cultural boundaries. I met with the International School managing director, the head of the Study Abroad Department, the co-director of the International Mater’s Program in Global Health, who also oversees the Global Health Graduate Summer program, director of the School of Public Health, as well as the vice provost and former director of the School of Public Health. Developing the structure and curriculum of the new Global Health summer program, allowed us to envision cross-cultural teaching in an experience-based learning atmosphere. My hope for this program that we are designing, is that our students will be exposed to cultural disparities that will encourage student-led research collaborations.

During my visit, I also explored future one for one student exchange options, began mapping UH curriculum to academic programs in public health and explored the student services, which actually offered great food and a wonderful bookstore! I talked with two students in the cafeteria from Georgia who were there studying. They were truly enjoying their experience at the UH. The classes were rigorous, yet reasonable and the opportunities on the weekend to explore the sights and sounds of Israel (many of which I was able to post on twitter @NEALECHUMBER last week) is extraordinary according to the students. Please visit my Twitter page to see more pictures from the Haifa and the UH, as I am sure you will find that the city and university are gorgeous.


The University of Haifa at Mount Carmel, Israel.
The University of Haifa at Mount Carmel, Israel.

As educators, we have the greatest opportunity to be the vessels through which our students develop both personally and professionally. Providing resources, tools, experienced-based learning opportunities, such as this Global Health Summer program at the UH, enables our students to be geared for the competitive marketplace upon graduation. As A Leading American University with International Reach, WKU is actively positioning itself to prioritize the globalization of education.

I am excited for our new international partnership with the UH and anticipate the inaugural program in Summer 2017 will be a great success for both the UH and WKU. I was asked to come back to the UH in November to solidify these productive conversations even further. Overall, this experience was great and very successful, and I anticipate future and positive opportunities for CHHS.

Had to take advantage of the opportunity to display my red towel and WKU spirit while in Israel!
Had to take advantage of the opportunity to display my red towel and WKU spirit while in Israel!

Until next time!



Follow me on Twitter @NEALECHUMBLER
Follow me on Twitter @NEALECHUMBLER

Strengthening CHHS’ Global Footprint

Last summer I introduced the concept of “experiential learning”, as becoming a popular topic in higher education over the recent years. As written on my blog post Experiential Learning: Students and Community Benefit , “experiential learning” is the expression of “learning from doing”. Inevitably, this method of instruction results in enhanced student learning and seamless transition into the workforce. Experiential learning can take on a number of forms, one of which is the collaborative study abroad experience. Currently, WKU is ranked 19th in the nation among master’s institutions for the total number of study abroad students , and notably, the College of Health and Human Services’ students comprised 14.5% of the total university education abroad enrollment for the 2014-2015 academic year. WKU’s national ranking serves to show WKU’s commitment and prioritization of education abroad, and the results of developing strategic, international partnerships.

WKU’s vision and motto is to be A Leading American University with International Reach. Since arriving back to WKU, I have been so impressed with how WKU has placed a priority on the globalization of education and how they are actively cultivating international partners so that our students become productive, engaged, and socially responsible citizen-leaders of a global society. We know that preparing our students for success in the international marketplace requires our focus on fostering global awareness and international collaboration during our students’ formative years. Here in the CHHS, we want to increase our global network for our students, so as to provide our students with experiences that will create more cultural awareness, allow them to be change agents, and prepare them for greater success after graduation.

The Office of Study Abroad and Global Learning serves the WKU community by engaging students, faculty, and staff in diverse, educational, and cultural experiences through faculty-led, exchange, consortia, and other study abroad opportunities. Additionally, WKU has students in more than 40 countries around the world through partnerships with the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad and the Kentucky Institute for International Studies.

Dr. Bormann led the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA) trip in Winter 2015-16 to Ireland and the United Kingdom. Students compared health care systems to those in the US.
Dr. Bormann led the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA) trip in Winter 2015-16 to Ireland and the United Kingdom. Students compared health care systems to those in the US.

This summer has given way to a wonderful opportunity for both the CHHS and WKU, as I will be traveling abroad to engage the headship of a new international partnership with the University of Haifa. The University of Haifa (UH), located in Mount Carmel, Israel, is the leading University in Israel in the fields of the Humanities, Social Sciences, Law, Welfare and Health Sciences, Natural Sciences, Education and Management. I will be visiting UH, July 17-23rd, meeting with their administrators, staff and students to create a new Global Health Summer Program between UH and WKU. Students will acquire new skills in leadership and new knowledge of global public health. This program will ultimately develop life-long relationships with colleagues from around the world and will help develop a future generation of individuals who will lead health systems around the world. I am very excited for this new partnership with UH, as it will expand our network of international partners and provide our students with a unique socio-cultural lens to study aspects of healthcare systems in an atmosphere of tolerance and multiculturalism.

When I worked previously at the University of Georgia (UGA), the department where I served as Department Head had a similar program that was created between UGA and UH. I wanted to do my best to replicate that program in creating a relationship between WKU and UH, with a focus on a summer program in global health at UH. My goal for this program is that our students will have direct participation in global health research, and be able to collaborate their research in vital international projects.

Our CHHS International Liaison Officer, Dr. Ron Ramsing, who is involved in teaching study abroad courses on ecotourism, service learning and outdoor recreation through programs in Belize, Costa Rica and Ecuador, has personally gained a deeper appreciation and understanding of each host country he visits. Each trip has a lasting impact on both the students and faculty alike, “This global understanding and perspective informs my teaching and service as well as the research projects I explore. I am more sensitive and aware of the geopolitics that invariably impact our domestic and international students at WKU.”

Dr. Ramsing goes on to state the benefits of student participation in study abroad opportunities, “While the immediate benefit for students who study abroad is self-evident, the long-term gains are significant too. The international experiences impact the types of classes students take upon their return, their interaction with domestic and international students, and occasionally the focus and/or redirection of their studies – students return inspired. These international experiences also help our students live and interact successfully in an ever expanding multicultural environment of the US. I regularly hear from alumni who indicate their international experiences give them an advantage over others when pursuing promotions in the workplace – employers seek students who have honed global competence. Students who have studied abroad create goodwill, are ambassadors of WKU, and typically look at the world through a slight different lens – the global experience leaves an indelible mark on who they are as a person.”   

As I embark upon this journey next week, I look forward to the seeing the active collaboration between the UH and WKU that will lead to further experiential learning opportunities for our students. I encourage you to follow me on this journey, Twitter handle: @NealeChumbler as I showcase the work and partnerships that we are building abroad!





For more information on our study abroad opportunities at WKU, please visit: