WSU interviewing four finalists for College of Health Professions dean



College of Health Professions students charge the field during the Clash of the Colleges on Aug. 23, 2019 at Cessna Stadium. The university is in the process of selecting the college’s next dean.

As Wichita State closes in on the next dean of the College of Health Professions, interim Dean Stephen Arnold says the winning candidate will have to be a people person. 

“Every good leader — you have to build confidence and trust,” Arnold said. “Don’t come in with a pre-planned agenda. Spend a lot of time listening and getting to know the people and the culture.” 

The college is expected to select a new permanent dean some time this month, following former Dean Sandra Bibb’s sudden resignation in January. 

The university on Monday conducted the first in a series of virtual public forums with candidates for the position. The four finalists are:

  • Phillip Funk, associate dean of Health Programs and Initiatives at DePaul University 
  • Sathees Chandra, director of Biomedical Sciences at Barry University
  • Gregory Hand, founding dean of the School of Public Health at West Virginia University
  • Kimberly McDowall Long, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Newman University

Monday’s public forum featured Funk, who also works as an associate professor of biology at DePaul. The university will virtually interview Funk on Tuesday. 

“The direction of (the) college is really a cooperative vision,” Funk said as he talked about his ideas for the position. “One of the worst things any incoming dean could do is believe that they could come in with a vision and order people around and expect it to happen.” 

WSUTV will host a virtual forum with Chandra at 3 p.m. Wednesday, with Hand at 1 p.m. Friday and with Long at 10 a.m. next Tuesday. Each candidate will be interviewed the day after their public forum. 

WSU officials provided no context for Bibb’s departure. A separation agreement between Bibb and the university does not exist, the WSU General Counsel’s Office told The Sunflower in response to a records request in January. 

Health Professions students learned of Bibb’s departure in an email, which was a shock to many. Bibb came to WSU as dean in 2014. 

“She was someone who understood students and always tried to work with us to make WSU the best that it can be,” said David Liu, a health professions senator in Student Government Association.

Liu said he hopes the new dean will seek more applied learning experiences for health professions programs because “when (we’re) able to put into practice what we learn in the classroom, it not only makes learning fun, but meaningful.”

“I would also like to see a dean who interacts with students because it is ultimately the students who are affected by the decisions of the administration and I feel like it’s important for administrators to take advice from the students.”

Linnea Glenmaye, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, was named acting dean immediately after Bibb’s resignation in January. Arnold, a professor at the College of Health Professions, was named interim dean a few weeks later and will remain in the position until a permanent replacement is picked. 

Arnold said the college’s degree programs are “rock solid” but said the next dean will face important tasks in other areas. 

“The two areas for growth for the college will be research, scholarly productivity and external funding, and also private fundraising,” he said. “That’s true in a lot of colleges, and this one is no different.” 

Kimberly Engber, dean of the Cohen Honors College, is heading the 17-person search committee to find the next dean. 

Click here for more information about the four finalists and members of the search committee.  

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story listed incorrect times for two of the virtual public forums. The Sunflower regrets the error.