The College of Education and Health Professions announces changes to the management team

Shannon Magsam

Left to right: Matthew Ganio, Ed Bengtson, Sherry Muir, Patrick Wolf, Kate Mamiseishvili, Michael Hevel, Kristin Higgins, Mary Margaret Hui Cunningham, Michelle Gray, Lewatis McNeal and Jessie Casida.

As the fall semester kicks off, the leadership team at the College of Education and Health Professions reflects several role changes.

“I am pleased to work with so many incredible leaders who have taken on new roles for the upcoming school year and those who continue to be part of our leadership team, said Kate Mamiseishvili, acting dean of the college. “We have a wonderful team of people who care deeply about our students, faculty, and staff. We all look forward to the opportunities our WE CARE initiative will bring to our college. It’s going to be a great year.”

Michel Hevel was named acting associate dean for research, strategy and outreach. Hevel, Associate Professor of Higher Education at the University of Alberta, has led the Department of Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders since 2017. As Associate Dean, he will lead the college’s strategic initiatives and provide support and guidance for its research and outreach efforts.

Hevel, a faculty member at the college since 2012, had also recently served as acting department head of the Education Reform Department. Mamiseishvili named patrick wolf, Emeritus Professor of Education Policy and 21st Century Endowed Chair in School Choice at the Ministry of Education Reform, to this position. Wolf joined the U of A in 2006 after teaching at Columbia and Georgetown University. The mission of the Ministry of Education Reform is to advance education and economic development with a focus on improving educational achievement in elementary and secondary schools.

Mamiseishvili named Christine Higgins to the vacant position of Head of Department of Hevel within the Department of Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders. Higgins, associate professor of counselor training and supervision, joined the faculty in 2006. She has served as program coordinator since 2016. The RHRC department is home to six undergraduate and graduate programs, including adult learning and all life course, communication sciences and disorders, counselor training and supervision, education statistics and research methods, higher education and human resource and workforce development.

The college also has a new Head of School of Nursing. jessie casida, an internationally renowned nurse scientist, has been named the new executive director of the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing and the George M. and Boyce W. Billingsley Endowed Chair in Nursing. Casida joins the U of A from Johns Hopkins University.

Michelle Gray began serving as acting department head of the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation last fall. Gray took the role after Matthew Ganio was named Acting Vice Dean of Academic and Student Affairs. Gray is also a professor of exercise science whose research focuses on age-related conditions to improve the quality of life of older adults. The department offers degree programs in Exercise Science – also known as Kinesiology – Public Health, Recreation and Sports Management, Sports Training, and Kindergarten Physical Education and Health Education in 12th grade.

Ganio joined the college faculty in 2011. Ganio oversees academic and student affairs in the role of Associate Dean, including facilitating changes and additions to degree plans, accreditation, and assessments. He also oversees the Boyer Center for Student Services and the Office of Teacher Education. It assists departments and faculties with evaluation, promotion and tenure policies.

Lewatis McNealwho joined the college in 2020, continues as Associate Dean of Administration and Diversity. Sherry Muir is in his sixth year as head of the Department of Occupational Therapy, and Ed Bengtson continues to lead the Curriculum and Instruction Department. Mary Margaret Hui Cunningham serves as the Dean’s Chief of Staff and Executive Assistant.

Over the summer, Mamiseishvili and the leadership team created the WE CARE initiative, which outlines the college’s priorities at the start of the new academic year. WE CARE stands for Wellness and Education Commitment to Arkansas Excellence. The priorities revolve around concrete ways that faculty and staff can collaborate within the college and across the state to address complex challenges in education and health.

The College of Education and Health Professions enrolled 4,474 undergraduate students and 1,457 graduate students for a total of 5,931 students in the 2021-2022 academic year. The college continues to have the largest number of graduate students from the U of A and the two largest departments on campus: the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing and the Department of Health, Human Performance and Hobbies. The college offers advanced academic degrees, professional development opportunities, and learning communities to serve the education and health systems of Arkansas and beyond.

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