Celebrating Success: Dental Hygiene Program

CHHS continues to enjoy a growing student enrollment, successful job placement for our graduates, and excellence and distinction in our many academic programs. One of our outstanding academic programs that I chose to highlight in this blog is our Dental Hygiene program. The program of Dental Hygiene at WKU was established in August 1970. There are four undergraduate tracks in Dental Hygiene and the program has a storied tradition of implementing curriculum to prepare our students for successful careers. Our program is accredited by the Council of Dental Education/Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association and accepts 28 students per year.

Indicative of our excellence was the fact that we recently received notification that 100% of our students passed the national accreditation exam. That is a remarkable accomplishment because the national first-time failure rate is approximately 10%.  This success rate is a byproduct of the excellent faculty and clinicians working and affiliated with the program. Speaking of our excellent faculty, the Dental Hygiene program and the Department of Allied Health has benefitted from the outstanding leadership of Dr. Lynn Austin. Dr. Austin began working for the Dental Hygiene Program in January 1982, and has served as the Dental Hygiene Program Director and the Department Head of Allied Health since 2005. On July 1, 2015, Dr. Austin retired from her full-time role as Program Director and Department Head.

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Fortunately, Lynn will not be leaving CHHS entirely. She will begin a transitional retirement phase of her career and will be teaching a few dental hygiene courses per year. Dr. Terry Dean will be the Interim Dental Hygiene Program Director. Dr. Dean graduated from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry in 1990, and began a tenure track appointment in the Dental Hygiene program in 2005.  He has been involved with our Program Accreditation since that time and currently serves as a CODA Site Visitor as well. Dr. Dean is extremely well-versed in all matters related to our program accreditation. I am confident the program will continue to flourish under his leadership.

To maintain our stellar academic program, we are in the process of undergoing a $1 Million dollar renovation of the Dental Hygiene clinic. This extensive renovation will be complete in mid-August. The renovation includes an expanded lab that will accommodate more student stations, a renovated x-ray space, and additional faculty offices to better meet student needs. The original Dental Hygiene lab was built in 1969 so these renovations are much-needed and will enhance student learning.2015.02.10_ academic complex classes _lewis-0447CHHS works hard to develop and cultivate strong community partners. Many of our dental hygiene graduates are currently working in dental practices in South Central KY. To that end, CHHS works hard to develop and cultivate strong community partners. One such individual is Dr. Andy Burt. Dr. Burt has a private dental practice in Bowling Green and is a long-time supporter of the Dental Hygiene program and WKU. IMG_0667Dr. Austin and I recognized Dr. Andy Burt, and his wife Julee (not present in the photo), with a framed certificate of recognition for their cumulative giving over the years. This sustained giving catapulted them to the Cornerstone Society level at WKU, which honors their leadership and lifelong dedication for their generous support. We appreciate the Burts and many others who help make our Dental Hygiene program top-notch for not only the students but also for South Central Kentuckians.



CHHS: Touching Lives and Improving Health

academic complexWe 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.