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.



Knotworking: CHHS Collaborations

Last November, when I participated in a public forum as part of my job interview at WKU, nurturing collaboration was a key focal point of the presentation. A quick online search of writings related to collaboration finds thousands of works. Kouzes and Posner[1] defined collaboration as working “jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor.” All higher education institutions are trying to do more with less; therefore, competitive strategies lose to approaches that promote collaboration and teamwork. Strategically fostering collaboration on pedagogical, research, and service-related activities both within CHHS and with other units at WKU will need to be a key activity for our continued success.

Drs. Neale Chumbler (CHHS) and Jeff Katz (GFCB)
Drs. Neale Chumbler (CHHS) and Jeff Katz (GFCB)

Gordon Ford College of Business Dean, Jeffrey Katz, and I are working on a few collaborative projects that aim to pay dividends for both units as we move forward. As you can see below, Dean Katz and I happened to show up at an event together randomly dressed exactly alike. Two or more individuals do not have to dress alike to develop and foster collaborative ventures, but it certainly shows our similarities!

While CHHS continues to build collaborations across and outside of campus, we have the great opportunity to facilitate novel interprofessional healthcare work to meet the unmet health care needs of Southern Kentuckians. It is imperative more than ever that the large array of allied health professionals collaborate to deliver timely and accessible care. Interprofessional healthcare initiatives can be complex and require clear communication and efficient processes. Even though “working in teams” has been a key shift in how healthcare work is more effectively delivered is necessary to better explain the complexity of how practitioners deliver their care and services. A new theoretically informed approach is necessary to better understand how interprofessional health care clinicians can work through the complexities to deliver high quality of care.

One such development is the theory of Knotworking, which describes collaborative work among several different situations involving constantly changing combinations of individuals distributed over time and space. According to this theory, healthcare teamwork consists of collaborations through the profession’s unique activity system. Each professional comes to the interprofessional collaboration through his or her unique talents and contributes a unique thread of activity to resolve the patient’s complex case.[2] Knotworking is best described as a “strategic alliance” between different professionals in a healthcare system.[3]

One very recent program that I want to highlight that will integrate several health professions into a consolidated curriculum and analogous to the perspective of knotworking is the Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Patient Navigator Certificate in CHHS. This new academic program will prepare students in the health care professions to effectively assist diverse clients to locate appropriate healthcare services, participate in healthcare decision-making, and understand medical vernacular and processes in the healthcare system. It prepares students in the healthcare professions by increasing understanding of both the complexity of the US healthcare system and the diverse barriers and strengths of rural healthcare clients. Students completing this certificate will be prepared to work with patients in healthcare or community settings at all stages of the healthcare process including preventative care, maintaining a healthy lifestyle; diagnosis, treatment, and disease management; and adjustment to chronic illness or sometimes end of life. This certification program was derived from an interdisciplinary group of scholars in CHHS from several disciplines: Dr. Trish Desrosiers (Social Work), Dr. Gregory Ellis-Griffith (Public Health), Ms. Jan Hunt-Shepherd (Health Information Management), Ms. Lee Brown (Paramedicine), Dr. Tonya Bragg-Underwood (Nursing), Dr. William Mkanta (Public Health), Ms. Andrea Brooks (Nursing), Ms. Wendi Hulsey (Allied Health), and Dr. Gayle Mallinger (Social Work). The coordinator of the program is Associate Dean, Dr. Danita Kelley. This group in CHHS are working together synergistically and effectively to deliver a novel academic program.

As an interdisciplinary group charged with exploring the possible options for new program creation, the committee relied on a literature review, a public roundtable event, and current programming at CHHS to guide them. The committee determined that the proposed interdisciplinary patient navigator certificate met the needs of the citizens of Kentucky, the healthcare industry, and WKU health professions students, as well as the mission of the CHHS. Students completing this certificate will be prepared to work with patients in healthcare or community settings at all stages of the healthcare process including preventative care, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, diagnosis, treatment, disease management, and adjustment to chronic illness or, sometimes, end of life.

Teams that “knotwork” together efficiently produce new knowledge and novel practice strategies because they tolerate high levels of ambiguity and work at maximum complexity due to the members being adaptable.3 CHHS will continue to work with WKU stakeholders to develop and implement pedagogical, research, and service related programs to meet the needs of our students and South Central Kentuckians.

[1] Kouzes JM and Posner BZ. 2002. The Leadership Challenge (3rd ed.). Jossey-Bass: San Francisco. (Page 412).

[2] Varpio L, Hall P, Lingard L, Schryer CF. 2008. Interprofessional communication and medical error: A reframing of research questions and approaches. Academic Medicine, 83, S76-S81. See also, Engestrom Y, Engestrom R, Vahaaho T. When the center does not hold: The importance of knotworking. In: Chaiklin S, Hedegaard M, Jensen UJ, eds. Activity theory and social practice; 1999:345-374.

[3] Bleakley A. 2013. Working in “teams” in an era of “liquid” healthcare: What is the use of theory? Journal of Interprofessional Care, 2013, 27:18-26.


Recognizing our Outstanding Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff are an integral part of our college’s success.  In College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), we are lucky to have such a diverse group of hardworking individuals who epitomize commitment to students, selfless service, and meaningful research.

Yearly, each department nominates individuals for the CHHS Outstanding Faculty Awards for Teaching Research/Creative Activity, Student Advisement, and Public Service. The CHHS Sabbatical and Faculty Awards Committee, led by Dr. Jay Gabbard and committee members Dr. Ashley Fox, Dr. Karen Mason, Dr. Tammie Stenger-Ramsey, Dr. Cathy Abell, Ms. Becky Tabor, and Dr. Tom Nicholson, spent a great deal of time selecting individuals whom they feel best represented the spirit of the college and WKU in the categories in which they were nominated.

The 2014 CHHS Outstanding Faculty Award recipients for Teaching, Research/Creative Activity, Student Advisement, and Public Service are:

  • Teaching – Dr. Fred Gibson, Associate Professor, KRS
  • Research/Creativity – Dr. Dana Sullivan, Associate Professor, SW
  • Student Advisement – Ms. Donna Hey, Instructor, KRS
  • Public Service – Dr. Eve Main, Associate Professor, SON
Dr. Fred Gibson

The recipient for this year’s Faculty Award for Teaching is Dr. Fred Gibson. Fred is a Professor in the School of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport. As evidence of his exemplary commitment to student success, Dr. Gibson won the University Faculty award for Student Advisement two years ago. Dr. Gibson was instrumental in the development of the Master’s program in Recreation & Sport Administration, a graduate program with six concentrations, five of which are 100% online. This graduate program has flourished under Dr. Gibson’s direction and leadership and now has well over 300 enrolled students. A former student concisely summarized Fred’s impeccable contributions as an exemplary teacher: “He prepares his students through his teaching to engage in critical thinking and provides students with the framework to be successful in the workforce and in life. He has positively impacted many through lifetime teaching, with his character, qualifications, love, and passion for teaching.” Fred strives to be a caring and proficient teacher that enhances the personal and professional lives of WKU students. I share Fred’s goal of inspiring WKU students’ passion for continual excellence and life-long learning.

The Faculty Award for Research/Creativity goes to Dr. Dana Sullivan. Dana, a leading child welfare researcher in KY, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work. Since joining WKU in 2009, she has been awarded four federal grants, and four state research contracts. Dana has a knack for levering these grants into multiple manuscripts.

Dr. Dana Sullivan
Dr. Dana Sullivan

Dana has published 17 peer-reviewed journal articles and delivered 18 peer-reviewed conference presentations. In the context of her clinical and service related commitment this level of research productivity is extremely remarkable. Dr. Sullivan’s article on child welfare workers’ retention was recently named as one of the most cited articles in the journal Children and Youth Services Review. Her peers regard Dana as an influence and benefit in the field of social work, one noting, “She does not settle for mediocrity to gain another publication notch in her belt, but wants to be thorough and cover all angles in order to increase practice wisdom in the field of child welfare.” What I really value about Dana is that she is team oriented and knows how to work effectively with a research team.

Ms. Donna Hey

Faculty Award for Student Advisement –Ms. Donna Hey is an Instructor in the School of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport. She currently advises 150 students in Exercise Science, Physical Education, and Sport Management, while simultaneously teaching 9-12 credit hours a semester. As a teacher and as an advisor, Ms. Hey is always completely engaged and she strives to ensure that each student receives the attention they deserve. A student remarked, “Ms. Hey is a kind-hearted, caring and creative advisor, and it has been a pleasure working with her. Her display of true interest and support to her students’ endeavors shows the loving, compassionate personality that she has that makes her a remarkable advisor.” Ms. Hey goes above and beyond her duties as an instructor and an advisor to perpetuate the KRS and CHHS Mission of providing a high quality educational experience for WKU students. We are thankful for Ms. Hey’s remarkable dedication to student success.

Dr. Eve Main
Dr. Eve Main

Faculty Award for Public Service – Dr. Eve Main is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing. Many of her service projects bring recognition to WKU from non-university clients who have benefited from services performed through access to medical care, health education, and health screenings, including the Mennonite Clinic and the Tetanus Project for rural farmers in the Barren River District. A colleague notes, “Dr. Main’s public service activities have touched and improved the lives of people from diverse populations. She exemplifies the true meaning of public service by sharing her time, expertise, and resources to promote the integration of academic excellence and community service.

In addition to her extensive list of service activities, Dr. Main continues to provide unique opportunities to her students, immersing them in an environment where service truly leads to learning. I truly applaud Dr. Main’s active collaboration with groups off campus that fosters novel experiential learning opportunities for our students. In addition to being an award winner for CHHS, Dr. Main was selected as the university faculty award winner for Public Service.

Each of the recipients above have been honored and recognized at several campus events, including the Faculty Award Reception this past April, the Faculty Award Banquet in May, Commencement in May, and they will also be recognized during Convocation next month.

Mr. Dennis Chaney
Mr. Dennis Chaney

In addition to the CHHS Outstanding Faculty Awards for Teaching, Research/Creative Activity, Student Advisement, and Public Service, the CHHS Sabbatical and Faculty Awards Committee also selects an Outstanding CHHS Staff Awardee, and an Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Awardee.

Ms. Bernadette Mullen
Ms. Bernadette Mullen

This year, Ms. Bernadette Mullen was selected as the Outstanding Staff Award recipient and Mr. Dennis Chaney was named the CHHS Outstanding Part-Time Faculty recipient.


We are extremely proud of the hard work of our faculty and staff, as well as the careful consideration of the Awards committee. Each individual who was nominated plays an important role in the continued success of our programs and the college as a whole.

To see information on previous winners, visit our WEBSITE.




Using our Listening Ears

The Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) Department in CHHS has had a long, storied tradition of excellence. The Communication Disorders (CD) program at WKU was established in 1975 and offers several excellent academic programs including a Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders, a Pre-Speech and Language Pathology program (that provides pre-requisite courses for entry into a graduate program), both an undergraduate minor and certificate in American Sign Language Studies, an undergraduate certificate in Cross Cultural Communication in Healthcare, and a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (both traditionally on-campus and via distance learning, as well as a Rank I certificate online). The Master of Science program in speech-language pathology at WKU is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Dr. Jean Neils-Strunjas

Dr. Mary Lloyd Moore, a Clinical Associate Professor who previously served as Interim Department Head, recently assumed a new administrative position as the Interim Executive Director of the Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex at WKU. Fortunately, Dr. Moore will still teach some courses and remain active in the CSD Department. I really appreciate Mary Lloyd’s dedicated service and we in CHHS and CSD will continue to partner with her to continue vibrant collaborations with her in the Clinical Education Complex (CEC). The silver lining in this news is that we recently were able to hire Professor Jean Neils-Strunjas, PhD, CCC-SLP. An experienced academic administrator with a wide range of leadership, teaching, and research experiences, Dr. Neils-Strunjas came to us from Armstrong Atlantic University (in Georgia) and was previously a tenured Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders at the University of Cincinnati for several years. Her expertise includes cognitive communication/language disorders in adults and her current research agenda tests the efficacy of interventions for individuals with mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Jean’s new leadership in CSD provides a great opportunity to build on our solid foundations and a chance to take full advantage of our past successes.

Hearing Screenings3
CSD Students with WKU President Gary Ransdell and Big Red

Recently, the CSD department conducted various events as part of their national association’s Better Hearing and Speech Month campaign.  The campaign helps to raise awareness of speech and hearing disorders across the lifespan.  As part of this effort, the CSD faculty and students hosted a free campus-wide hearing screening event.  President Ransdell, Big Red, and I graciously accepted their personal invitation to have our hearing screened.

Hearing Screenings5
Getting my hearing checked


I received excellent news from the hearing test results that I have no evidence of hearing loss. Hearing well does not necessarily translate into being an active and effective listener. I strive to actively listen to others and as Dean, I will continue that practice. Individuals in high performance groups are active listeners and distinguish facts from stories from beliefs in real time.[1]

Several months prior to my inception as Dean, I read an intriguing book by sociologist Edgar Schien[2] who delineated captivating and key elements to effective communication in a healthy organization. Some of the key elements that he put forward included the following arguments:

  • All too often we interact with other individuals by simply telling them what we think they should know. This exchange does not engender novel ideas, nor develop responsiveness.
  • To create positive relationships and effective organizations, a leader should practice “humble inquiry”, as defined as the “the fine art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.” (p. 2)

CHHS has so many constituents (students, staff, faculty, alumni, colleagues across campus, community members, consumers, and more) and I will continue to take valuable time to listen to them and take their advice, thereby giving voice to their feelings and experiences. We want to strive to understand and see issues and things from another’s perspective. Kouzes and Posner (2002)[3] reported that listening is not well practiced in organizations, and only one in 3 employees reported that their company listens to them. We want to actively listen to you and pay attention to your needs.

To do this, we have created an electronic “suggestion box”.  CLICK HERE FOR THE “SUGGESTION BOX”.

We will review your comments and suggestions within 24 hours. Your time and opinion is very important to us. Your suggestions, comments, and feedback will provide me with valuable information to identify and overcome barriers that may impede optimal productivity, morale, etc. In the near future, I will have other forums for dialogue with staff and faculty to understand and gauge their needs as an employee in CHHS.

Listening to others and hearing what they say is important and I will use what I hear to continuously find ways in which to improve and build upon the current and past successes of CHHS.


[1] McGoff C. 2011. The Primes. Wiley: Hoboken, NJ.

[2] Schien EH. 2013. Humble Inquiry. Berrett-Kohler: San Francisco.

[3] Kouzes J and Posner BZ. 2002. The Leadership Challenge (3rd ed). Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.

Experiential Learning: Students and Community Benefit

WKU is nationally recognized for the quality of instruction it provides students for the impressive reputation for community engagement and service learning. In recent years, “experiential learning” has become a popular topic in higher education. Simply put, “experiential learning” is the expression of “learning from doing”. Experiential learning can take on a number of experiences including internships, practica, clinical or fieldwork experiences, undergraduate research, service learning, study abroad, “hands-on” work experiences and other related activities (Silberman, 2007).

Research indicates that experiential learning enhances positive outcomes, including enhanced student learning, on-time graduation, and seamless transition into the workforce. Hands-on application of knowledge can help to build a student’s skills and networks, as well as offer valuable professional experience. Reflection on that experience assists students in articulating their goals and aspirations, to themselves and to their future employers.

Here in the CHHS, we have long been conducting experiential learning. However, we are poised to take the learning experience that students receive in CHHS to an even higher level that not only enhances learning, but also positions them for success after graduation. Experiential learning creates new opportunities for businesses, non-profits, and other organizations that partner with CHHS on mutually beneficial study abroad, service-learning, and internship opportunities. Students make valuable connections and receive valuable experience that serves them well beyond graduation. Additionally, organizations and businesses gain a new perspective and receive assistance with special projects.

This summer, students from our programs will be headed to places abroad including Sweden, Costa Rica, and Iceland, to experience hands-on learning in a variety of ways. While we have so many examples of experiential learning that could be highlighted, I wanted to underscore two impeccable experiential learning opportunities for our students.

School of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport in Indy

Group picture at the Indianapolis Colts’ training facility.

Three of our dedicated CHHS faculty (Drs. Brad Stinnett, Evie Oregon, and Fred Gibson) from the School of KRS offered a 5-day Sport Facility Symposium in Indianapolis. As a part of our ongoing Study Away Initiative, 16 of our students experienced an opportunity to gain more information about the world of sport and recreation from those currently working in the field.  Indianapolis has the great distinction of being referred to as the amateur “sports capital of the world” and the “racing capital of the world.”  During those 5 days, the CHHS students received an unparalleled behind-the-scenes look at facility planning, design, and construction processes in professional, intercollegiate, and interscholastic recreation and sport facilities. Throughout their time in Indianapolis, the students, faculty and staff toured the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Banker’s Life Fieldhouse (home to the Indianapolis Pacers), Lbankerslifeucas Oil Stadium (home to the Indianapolis Colts and NCAA Final Four Men’s Tournament), NCAA Headquarters and Hall of Champions, Victory Field (home to AAA Pro baseball team), and more. These students were given the opportunity to gain hands on insight into their chosen career paths during this valuable experience in Indianapolis.


Institute for Rural Health, School of Nursing, Department of Public Health at Smucker’s

Matt Hunt, Director of IRH, and I discuss collaborations and ways in which to improve rural healthcare in the area.

I recently had the great fortune to travel to the J.M. Smucker Corporation plant in Scottsville and see firsthand the types of novel, “hands-on”, life-changing experiences that our students were able to experience. This Smucker’s plant produces Uncrustables©, the thaw and serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I met with a number of exceptionally promising students from the CHHS School of Nursing, the Department of Public Health, staff in the Institute of Rural Health (IRH), as well as Smucker’s employees. The IRH in CHHS identifies rural health and human service needs and facilitates collaborative arrangements that engages WKU students and faculty and community agencies in addressing these needs.

This academic year, The IRH, and students from CHHS, provided more than 600 services at the J.M. Smucker Corporation in Scottsville as part of the IRH’s worksite wellness outreach. IRH staff, along with 28 baccalaureate nursing students, provided health screenings for Smucker’s employees including: blood pressure, lipid panel, blood glucose, hemoglobin A1C, bone density, and BMI.  Collaboratively, baccalaureate and graduate public health students developed and provided educational presentations for the workforce on topics including: oral health, breast cancer awareness, prostate cancer awareness, ergonomics, physical activity, healthy eating, and stress management. The students served more than 150 Smucker’s employees, resulting in over 160 student engagement hours at the Scottsville facility. The IRH plays an important role of maintaining excellence at the intersection of student engagement and community service, while providing excellent experiential learning events for students.

The experiential learning opportunities described above are just some of the examples of how our students are working in applied health and human service venues to gain valuable work experience. We look forward to continuing these partnerships and watching them grow in the days, months, and years ahead.

Silberman, M. L. (2007). The handbook of experiential learning. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.