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.

2016.08.17_ chhs meeting _lewis-0005
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:

CHHS Celebrates the End of a Successful Year and Plans for a Busy Summer

Dean Chumbler congratulates a CHHS student at Commencement
Dean Chumbler Congratulates a CHHS Graduate at Commencement

Wow! The 2015-16 Academic Year just concluded and what a great year it was for CHHS. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was so pleased to share the floor with President Ransdell and shaking hands and handing out diplomas to approximately 775 2016 Spring Semester graduates (doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s and associate degree recipients). In all, we had a total of 880 students who graduated this semester or will graduate this summer. I was also so pleased to see so many of the faculty from CHHS who participated in either the graduate student or undergraduate student ceremonies.

Dean Chumbler with CHHS KRS Sport and Rec Administration Master's Program Graduate, Damarius Gibson
Dean Chumbler with CHHS KRS Sport and Rec Administration Master’s Program Graduate, Damarius Gibson

As this Academic Year has winded down, I wanted to highlight a few key achievements that have not already been announced on my blog. Our strategic planning is in full swing and ongoing. We have a draft of the plan and I will continue to work with many faculty and staff in CHHS over the summer to tailor it to the needs of our college. Moreover, I partnered with so many hard working faculty and staff where we developed first ever CHHS guidelines for travel. This important activity was performed to ensure enhanced access for more CHHS faculty and staff to obtain necessary travel to not only disseminate their research findings but also the necessary continuing education skills.

We are also in the midst of re-examining our Tenure and Promotion Guidelines. Associate Deans Danita Kelly and Vijay Golla are co-chairing a committee with four additional Full Professors in CHHS. With reference to teaching effectiveness, research impact and comprehensive service (to the respective department, college, university, profession and community), this committee will develop and inform me on salient criteria of what constitutes excellence in research, teaching, and service. These standards will be employed as new benchmarks for Assistant Professors on their journey to promotion to Associate Professors, as well as Associate Professors proceeding on to promotion to Full Professors.

Our Doctor of Physical Therapy Program (DPT) recently received some spectacular news. On May 4, 2016, the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) considered the materials submitted by our DPT program. CAPTE granted accreditation for a period of five years. This is a momentous time for the program with not only obtaining this prestigious accreditation, but also the fact that we graduated our first class of 30 DPT students. Further, the DPT program will transition from a program to its own separate academic department effective July 1st with Dr. Harvey Wallmann as our Department Head. I am so proud of the DPT faculty and staff for their hard work!

This summer, we will launch our inaugural CHHS Annual Magazine: CHHS IMPACT: Engage. Serve. Collaborate. Learn. CHHS is making an impact in Southcentral Kentucky and it is imperative that we inform friends of CHHS and our university community. Our magazine will be mailed out and electronically distributed in July, and will showcase some of our key achievements and success stories conducted by our students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Until next time – I hope each of you will have a safe and enjoyable start to the summer!


CHHS Research Reflection

I just completed my first full year as Dean of the College of Health & Human Services (CHHS). This year has been a great year with so many rewarding experiences. We have a good college with exciting endeavors ongoing for our students. These successful events would not be possible without the dedication of our staff and faculty.  Many accomplishments have led to important, new discoveries and the dissemination of new knowledge in the form of applied research. Over this past year, research within CHHS has received a revitalization of its goals and purpose. Dr. Vijay Golla, from the department of Public Health, has been appointed as the Associate Dean for Research for CHHS, beginning in August 2015.

In the fall of 2015, a new CHHS Research Committee was formed and the first CHHS research forum was conducted in November 2015. Faculty and Professional staff were made aware of various research incentives in CHHS, and the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the distribution of indirects, faculty incentive program (FIP), and spending grant monies. These SOPs were developed and voted in by the CHHS Research Committee. CHHS also conducted two writing days in the fall of 2015 and three in spring 2016 to encourage faculty to set aside a dedicated time slot for writing and manuscript completion without interruption. These writing days were held at the Medical Center Health Sciences Complex.

Drs. Colin Farrell and Vijay Golla prepare their presentation for the "Research Methods" workshop.
Drs. Colin Farrell and Vijay Golla prepare their presentation for the “Research Methods” workshop.

CHHS is committed to increasing its research profile within the university and the region. As part of this effort, a new series of workshops on “research methods” has been developed. The first workshop was held on March 30, 2016 with a focus on “developing research questions”. The purpose of these workshops is to encourage and enable faculty to refresh their research skills and focus on accurate methodology and measurements as part of their research design. CHHS Faculty and Student Research will be showcased in the first three weeks of April 2016 through poster and podium presentations of current research endeavors.

A new research initiative by the university resulted in the creation of the Quick Turn Around Grant (QTAG) program which made available small amounts of research funding (up to $3000) for faculty to utilize for completion of a study, small pilot funding, critical travel needs for research, etc. CHHS has funded five QTAG applications so far and is currently reviewing additional applications. With regards to extramural funding, CHHS has submitted 30 grant/ contract applications to a tune of $1,389,469.00 so far this academic year. CHHS faculty were also very active pursuing internal grant funding opportunities. Five faculty were awarded Faculty Undergraduate Student Engagement (FUSE) grants in fall 2015. In the spring of 2016, CHHS faculty submitted 12 applications to the WKU’s Research and Creative Activities Program (RCAP) to obtain seed monies for research initiatives as a stepping stone for building their research and advancing the disciplines of Health and Human Services into the future.

CHHS strives to achieve a balance in faculty work load—between teaching, research, and service. The college is determined to provide an excellent opportunity for faculty to improve their research skills and collaborations as we move forward. More information on CHHS Research can be found at


CHHS Strategic Planning: Phase 2

“I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”. Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower

This transformative mission statement set the stage for the second phase of our strategic plan (I discussed the first phase of the plan in my previous blog post – click HERE). And, as indicative of this quote from President Eisenhower, the act of planning is more useful than the plan that emerges from the process because if the incorrect methods are employed, the plan will be ineffective.

At the beginning of the fall semester, I met with the Dean’s Internal Advisory Committee (an ad-hoc committee whose purpose is to advise me on college-related initiatives) regarding our next steps. We decided to build on these innovative and informative approaches and to structure a second retreat to provide an opportunity for all CHHS faculty and staff to be involved and encouraged to verbalize their ideas. During the holiday break, I took some time to reflect on themes that should guide our strategic plan. In my time here, I noticed several ways in which CHHS has the opportunity for growth and collaboration. In large part, these themes were derived from my conversations with members of the CHHS community and Dean’s Internal Advisory Committee over the last several months.

These themes include:

  • Interprofessional Education, including pedagogy and research
  • Applied Research Teams across the following themes: 1) health (e.g., environmental, occupational, personal) and wellness (e.g., student and employee); 2) rural health;  and 3) Health and Human Service Outcomes
  • Service Learning
  • International Education, research and service learning
  • Teaching Effectiveness
  • Tenure and Promotion
  • Student Retention and Recruitment
  • Staff Development
  • Media and Marketing

The Dr. Dan Pesut facilitates the Open Space Technology Work Daysecond phase of the strategic planning process was a one-day retreat held on January 14th. Once again, Dr. Dan Pesut served as our facilitator. The themes above served as a guide but were not mutually exclusive. CHHS faculty and staff, along with a few CHHS stakeholders and CHHS students attended the all-day workday.At the beginning of the day, all were asked if there was any topic in which they would like to be a convener. I expressed that all CHHS employees played a role in creating the future, not fixing the past. If there were any topics in which any were passionate, they were able to bring those ideas to the table and could volunteer to lead a discussion on those ideas during the smaller group sessions. I asked each of the attendees to think of the following five questions prior to the retreat:

  1. What are some topics/issues that support the greater good of the college?
  2. How will your department contribute to the realization of that greater good?
  3. What should be the future goals of CHHS?
  4. What is your contribution as an individual?
  5. Who else in the college do you want to work with and how will you cross boundaries to support the greater good of the college?

This time the major method Dan employed was Open Space Technology (OST). OST enables self-organizing groups of all sizes deal with incredibly complex issues in a very short period of time. OST is an effective, economical, fast and easily-repeatable strategy for organizing meetings of between 5 and 1,000 participants and is characterized by the following mechanisms:

  1. Enables a group to design its own agenda around passionate issues and responsible action plans.
  2. Acknowledges work, wisdom, and expertise of all involved.
  3. Enables you to move from one session to another at will.
  4. Supports action planning during, and beyond the meeting.
  5. Enables connection with others in the group.
  6. Gives opportunity for meaningful conversations.
  7. Provides a summary of each session for beyond the meeting.

The retreat was a success. One employee had the following positive sentiments:

2016.01.13_ chhs open space technology _lemon-90“I have never felt so much energy from the faculty and staff!  The open format also allowed me to meet and network with people who share my interests and get a feel for future areas of collaboration and research. This was particularly valuable to me as a junior member of the faculty. I just wanted to say “thanks!” – Janice Carter Smith, Communication Sciences and Disorders

High quality is present in CHHS. Students and faculty are often acknowledged for their successes, but the staff in CHHS forms the organization’s backbone and allows students and faculty to pursue knowledge. I was so pleased to see staff integrated into the agenda and I truly appreciate the remarkable job the staff members do for CHHS.2016.01.13_ chhs open space technology _lemon-129

So many notes and ideas were put forward. I am currently working with the Dean’s Internal Advisory Committee and will form a coordinating council that will distill the voluminous data that was collected from this great day.  As we collectively develop our academic plan that aims to advance practice, instruction, research, and service of health and human services in CHHS, it is imperative that our vision aligns with the larger institutional vision. IMG_0542It is my intent to support departments in the development of strategic plans that build on our strengths and align with the University’s vision and mission and provides direction for what CHHS can do over the next 2-3 years to position ourselves to be leaders in the field through our unique strengths, team based interests, individual, collaborative, and collective efforts.



CHHS Strategic Planning: Phase I

With nearly 250 faculty members and staff and over 5,000 students, the College of Health and Human Services’ (CHHS) expertise extends across so many areas of allied health and human service disciplines. CHHS cannot be all things to all people. Therefore, focus is vital to achieve impact as CHHS moves forward.

Shortly after my arrival to WKU, I put plans together to work collaboratively with faculty, staff, students, and constituents to develop a strategic plan for CHHS. A strategic plan develops a series of goals and a time line for achieving them; it integrates the strategies and the tactics that are most likely to accomplish the goals and then stages them across a time line[1]. A nimble strategic plan is imperative as CHHS transitions into the next phase of development. For purposes of communication, fundraising, and allocation of scarce resources, it is essential that we identify high-priority focus areas that deserve special attention, where additional resources could help us accelerate an even more significant positive impact upon allied health and human service providing professions, and where our impact could be transformative. These areas should be cross-cutting, interdisciplinary, and they should have the potential for inclusion of all units within CHHS.

Across this academic year, our strategic plan will consist of two stages. My blog today will focus on the first stage.

In the first phase of our strategic planning process, we held a one day retreat on August 11, 2015 that included the CHHS Administrative Council (Department Heads, Institute Directors, Associate Deans, Assistant to the Dean, Senior Development Officer, and myself). Our facilitator was Dr. Dan Pesut, Professor of Nursing in the Population Health and Systems Cooperative Unit and is the Director of the Katharine Densford International Center for Nursing Leadership at the University of Minnesota. Dan introduced us to some key materials that set the stage for our strategic planning processes not only in August, but throughout the year. He introduced us to strengths and values-based leadership (so that core strengths can be extrapolated and values identified), the Primes© (describes user friendly universal patterns of high performance, for example change vs. transformation), and the principles of liberating structures (rules governing how we choose to relate to others), including one important component of it: eco-cycle planning. Eco-cycle planning invites a leader to focus on creative destruction and renewal in addition to typical themes regarding growth or efficiency. The Administrative Council retreat day was very productive and informative. Dan worked with the group on several strategic planning exercises. I tasked each Department Head and School Director to initiate dialogue and discussion within their units regarding what each wants to create and contribute to the overall vision of CHHS. The information developed in each department will inform the overall CHHS strategic plan.

CHHS Administrative Council Retreat
CHHS Administrative Council Retreat

At the end of the CHHS Administrative Council retreat, we developed a values statement that will assist in the overall development of the strategic plan: 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.

[1] Conboy K. 2014. Establishing and implementing your vision: Strategic planning in academic affairs. Pp. 149-154 in The Resource Handbook for Academic Deans (3rd edition). Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.


Friendraising as a Form of Advancement and Development in CHHS

The expectations for academic deans have been radically changed from exclusively supervising their college’s academic programs to devoting a considerable effort to advancement and development. Consequently, there are increasing expectations that academic deans devote time meeting with donors and potential donors, and seeking sources of external funds.1 Working with donors and potential donors was one of the most attractive features that attracted me to this position. I spend approximately 40% of my time working to develop relationships, both internally and externally in CHHS. In fundraising, I never ever do it alone. I have been fortunate to work collaboratively with Ron Wilson (Senior Director of Development in CHHS). Ron is an active member of the CHHS Administrative Council, a key leadership and advisory team that meets with me two times a month to discuss strategies and college and university related business. With his involvement on this team, Ron is kept abreast of significant developments and news of CHHS. Ron’s involvement on the Administrative Council enables him to build direct relationships and communication channels with Department Heads and Institute Directors.

Ron is a stellar development officer in his planning and conducting our visits with friends and donors of CHHS and potential donors. According to Ron, “Our alums and friends of CHHS have provided tremendous support during the past 10 years.  I look forward to working with Dean Chumbler and visiting with donors to discuss philanthropic interests and priorities for CHHS.”

I prefer not to use the term “fundraising” and instead prefer to use the term friendraising. Since beginning the position last March, I began working diligently with friendraising and have embarked on an engagements to cultivate relationships with alumni, individuals, foundations, and granting organizations. Friends of CHHS can donate their time, talent, or treasure and all 3 forms have great value to our initiatives.[1] My goal has been to create close relationships with individuals, persuading them to think positively about CHHS and imparting in them a desire to assist me in succeeding. I wanted to highlight three recent outcomes:

Dr. and Mrs. Charles and Linda Williams, Dean Neale Chumbler, Drs. Cheryl and Howard Rogers, and Mr. Ron Wilson
Dr. and Mrs. Charles and Linda Williams, Dean Neale Chumbler, Drs. Cheryl and Howard Rogers, and Mr. Ron Wilson

First, in October, friends of CHHS, Dr. Charles and Linda Williams, opened up their home and graciously hosted an alumni event in Gainesville, Florida. Also, during our visit to North Central Florida, we visited with some alumni for the first time in North Central Florida for lunch and then spent an afternoon and dinner with Barbara Roole, Senior Policy Director for the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund, a Charitable and Education Fund. This visit was productive in so many ways. A proposal from CHHS was submitted to the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund to support an important ongoing initiative in the College.

Second, the day before Homecoming, the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences in CHHS received the largest gift in the program’s history from a successful alumnus and respected restaurateur, Joe Micatrotto, Jr.  Mr. Micatrotto and his family made a $150,000 gift to establish the

Micatrotto Fund for Excellence in Hospitality Management. This generous fund will provide incredible learning opportunities in the foods and catering laboratory for the Hospitality Management and Dietetics majors. The dining room in Academic Complex was named for the Micatrottos in recognition of the substantial gift: The Micatrotto Family Dining Room.

Joe Sr., Joe Jr., and Justin Micatrotto

Third, over the last several months, Gordon Ford College of Business Dean, Jeffrey Katz, and I collaborated on a joint venture. More specifically, MyGenetx (a genetics company based in the Franklin, Tennessee area committed to bringing affordable, accessible and actionable laboratory testing to everyone) partnered with CHHS and the Gordon Ford College of Business to initiate a service for the veterans of our community. Through their generosity, we will be taking our mobile health unit in conjunction with the Institute for Rural Health to area VFW and American Legions to provide basic services for veterans.image2

Over the last 8 months, I have had the great pleasure of meeting so many alumni who have had a wonderful personal experience with CHHS and WKU. An important element of my job will be to increase excitement about the mission of CHHS. I want the friends of CHHS to know that I am a dean who has a “listening ear” and fully and completely listens, thereby taking all ideas for the college and programs seriously and respectfully.[2] Further, I am available for input and advice regarding those ideas. I will continue to communicate with CHHS Department and School Heads, faculty, and students to shape our development goals and include these individuals at events and in campus visits with friends of CHHS. As Dean, I will strive to play the vital role of listener, communicator, and translator in order that all constituencies will be better prepared to advance the educational goals of CHHS.2

Warm Regards,



[1] Buller, JL. 2007. “Donors and potential donors.” Pp. 121-27 in The Essential Academic Dean: A Practical Guide to College Leadership. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.

[2] Timmerman, D. 2014. “Productively working with advancement and development”. Pp. 211-214 in The Resource Handbook for Academic Deans (3rd ed.). Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.

Increasing Access to Education for Southcentral Kentuckians and Beyond

Over the past 20+ years in academia, my research agenda has centered on identifying barriers and implementing facilitators that increase access to timely health care for community dwelling citizens. This endeavor continues to be breathtaking because I have been fortunate to find mechanisms that overcome barriers that individuals, many of whom have co-morbid health conditions, experience while accessing health services. Likewise, as an academician and administrator, I also have a passion for increasing access to education for students who may not be in a position to earn a degree and if not through online modalities. The mid-1990s saw an initiation of online courses and programs offered by colleges and universities whose primary target audience was working adults and degree completion students.[1] Some have argued that online education, and other digital learning techniques, is one of the greatest hopes for reforming higher education.[2] Interestingly, so many residential colleges balked at embracing online education, but not WKU. WKU made a concerted and assiduous effort by establishing an elaborate program of online education. Just this past year, WKU has been recognized by several reputable entities as a leader in online education. For instance, WKU ranked #2 in the nation for online bachelor’s programs, according to the US News and World Report.

CHHS has four graduate programs (Master of Healthcare Administration, Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Communication Disorders, and Master of Science in Recreation and Sports Administration), seven graduate certificate programs (Advanced Worksite Health Promotion, Dietetic Practice, Environmental Health and Safety, Facility and Event Management, Nonprofit Administration, post MSN Nurse Administrator, and Post-MSN Nurse Educator), five undergraduate degrees (Family and Consumer Sciences – Child Studies, Family and Consumer Sciences – Family Studies, Health Science, Dental Hygiene, and Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree), 4 undergraduate certificates (Cross Cultural Communication in Health Care, Family Home Visiting, Occupational Health and Safety, Worksite Health Promotion), five undergraduate minors (Child Studies, Family Home Visiting, Consumer & Family Sciences, Family Studies, and Nonprofit Administration) and one Associate degree (Early Childhood Education) exclusively online. Both our Master of Science in Recreation and Sports Administration and Master of Health Administration received national recognition for their top quality.

Here in the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) we want to increase access to education for students in the region, as well as within and outside of the US. As evidence of that desire, a total of 9,974 students—who generated 28,119 credit hours—were enrolled in one of our online classes over the most recent year (fall 2014, winter 2015, spring 2015, and summer 2015 sessions). CHHS online students can get the same education as our on campus students but with the added convenience of working from wherever you need to be. Our geographical region includes a large rural area where there is a distinct shortage of health care providers. CHHS is in a great position to not only obviate this detrimental fact, but also to proliferate the health care provider workforce. Through the delivery of online degree programs in CHHS, we are able to increase the chances that our residents in rural communities in southcentral Kentucky access more care because we are able to provide both undergraduate and graduate level degrees to students and advance them to practitioners. We are also able to accommodate the education needs of nontraditional students (e.g., individuals with full time jobs and parents) who need the flexibility that online programs provide.

I wanted to highlight a few of our online programs in CHHS.

In the late 1990’s CHHS’s Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) program began offering online courses to students pursuing a master’s degree in speech-language pathology in partnership with the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky as part of the Kentucky Virtual University consortium. After the other partners left the consortium, WKU’s CSD program, with the leadership of Drs. Stan Cooke and Barbara Brindle, began a WKU online master’s degree program in speech-language pathology. At the same time, states across the country began requiring speech-language pathologists who work in public schools to have a master’s degree. As a result, there were a large number of speech-language pathologists with a bachelor’s degree who needed to find a master’s program close to home or leave their jobs and move to a university that had such a program. Because WKU’s CSD on-line program was one of only a few in the country, many prospective students applied to the program. Since 2001 the CSD on-line program has graduated over 500 students with a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. These students work in schools and clinics from Maine to California, and even in other countries (talk about international reach!). A large number of graduates are speech-language pathologists who work in the New York City schools.

Since 2001, CHHS has an exclusive agreement with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) to offer this unique program to those clinicians in New York who needed a master’s degree. When asked by his colleagues at other traditional campus-based master’s programs about the success of online education Dr. Richard Dressler, CSD’s Director of the graduate program, states “Our online students pass the national board exam at the same level of success as our campus-based students. This shows that their knowledge and application of the content obtained through distance education is comparable to the traditional campus education”. A recent graduate student from the UFT program stated the following: “I have obtained employment with the NYC Department of Education and will commence work on September 8th. Thank you to you and your faculty for all that you do and the constant support you give your students! I am very proud and grateful to be part of the WKU community!” Similarly, one student indicated the following: “Being a student in the distance-learning program allowed me not only to be close to my family but to be close to my classmates, as well.  This program also improved my self-motivational, organizational, and critical thinking skills that have been imperative for entering the field.”

The Healthcare Administration program at WKU focuses on equipping the surrounding communities, and the nation as a whole, with skilled and passionate health administrators who are dedicated to leading and managing health services in a way that would bring positive changes to the health of the nation. Over time, with the same focus in mind, we identified a need to reach out to healthcare professionals where they work and live and provide them with a flexible and collaborative learning program leading to MHA degree. The Executive EMHA program at WKU was launched in spring 2012 to meet the educational needs of practicing healthcare professionals. The program is delivered in an online platform with a requirement of only 20 contact hours in a class setting occurring on a 3-day applied learning symposium. The program achieved an enrollment of nearly 50 candidates by spring 2015 with a student body made of individuals with healthcare careers spanning many decades and in a broad spectrum of managerial and clinical practices. In the short time of its existence, the MHA program has opened doors for educational advancement to a large proportion of alumni from our undergraduate program. These are mainly individuals who are hindered from moving into higher levels in the healthcare management system due to deficiencies in their educational experience. About 40% of the current EMHA enrollees fall into this category. Recently, a collaborative agreement signed between WKU and the University of Pikeville, made it possible for EMHA program to open doors for students from Pikeville’s Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine to pursue a MHA degree. The future of the program looks brighter both domestically – with more innovative solutions for reaching healthcare professionals at their practice sites, and internationally – whereby the EMHA model is expected to be implemented for health professionals in abroad settings.

The online graduate program in Recreation and Sport Administration started as an experiment to serve professionals who couldn’t quit their jobs in order to continue their education. The experiment has evolved into one of the largest programs in the country with an incredible network of alumni working in nearly every state. In 2009, WKU’s School of KRS created a 100% online program in Recreation and Sport Administration with a concentration in Athletic Administration and Coaching. The original concentration was designed to meet the needs of non-traditional interscholastic athletic coaches and administrators. This concentration currently enrolls over 100 new graduate students annually.

KRS launched another online program in Facility and Event Management during the fall 2011 term. The FEM program partnered with the International Association for Venue Managers to provide students with two years of membership while enrolled. Fall 2014 saw the creation of the newest RSA program entitled Intercollegiate Athletic Administration. This program was designed for individuals interested in careers in college athletic administration. Students complete specialized coursework in content areas such as sport governance, compliance, and student-athlete development. Through a partnership with the National Association for Athletics Compliance, graduates not only earn a master’s degree, but also the NAAC Education Certification in Compliance. The IAA concentration and certificate program currently enrolls 60 new students each year.

CHHS is embracing the landscape of the university classroom by increasing educational content through online education in multiple contexts. Teaching online courses well takes dedicated, innovative professors and requires considerably more time than traditional teaching. CHHS faculty members who are delivering their courses through online modalities are devoted to delivering novel, state-of-the-art pedagogies to increase access to education for students. We will continue to strive for academic excellence while still being widely accessible to both undergraduate and graduate students and engaged in communities in southcentral Kentucky to meet health professional shortages.


[1] Monaco, P. 2014. “A successful career as an online Dean”. Pp. 33 -38 in The Resource Handbook for Academic Deans (3rd edition). Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.

[2] Bennett. WJ and Wilezol D. 2013. Is College worth it? Thomas Nelson: Nashville.