Serving as dean is a wonderful opportunity. Although there are numerous challenges, it’s a pleasure to see things come together for faculty, staff and students.
Over the past several years, we have been planning systematically for the future by expanding our degree offerings, raising academic standards and addressing the health care needs of the commonwealth. And it hasn’t been easy! The global economic recession wasn’t exactly the best time to propose new programs, but we did. In fact, the college proposed, planned, designed and implemented two entirely new academic departments (occupational therapy and physical therapy) and three new degree offerings (Master of Occupational Therapy, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Doctor of Nursing Practice) within the span of a couple of years—something I think was unique for the entire state.
The college also has some of the most selective programs on campus. For instance, over the past few years, the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders has had far more qualified applicants for its graduate speech-language pathology program than it can accommodate. Likewise, applicants for the undergraduate nursing program have keen competition for the number of available admissions each year despite the school’s efforts to increase class sizes. When I chat with others across the nation about Radford University, these are among the programs that are consistently recognized for their outstanding traditions of clinical excellence.
And we’re not done yet! We are very interested in offering additional doctoral programs, especially in nursing and social work. For example, the School of Social Work is well prepared to consider not only a professional doctorate but also a traditional research doctorate. The process is arduous, but the faculty and staff are talented and motivated, and most of all there is a great need for highly educated professionals in both areas.