As the College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) celebrates its third anniversary, 2013 is proving to be a pivotal year.
Since its inception in 2010, Purdue's second-largest and second-newest college (the Honors College began 2011) came into its own this year with fresh energy and a focus on the future:
- The college's first dean was formally named in January just as the University's 12th president arrived on campus.
- Implementation of the newly minted strategic plan is under way.
- Dynamic new faculty researchers are forming interdisciplinary collaborations.
- A new health and human sciences building under construction will open in 2014 in the University's emerging Life and Health Sciences Corridor.
- New life-enhancing devices are being developed, patented and deployed by HHS researchers in collaboration with the Office of Technology Commercialization.
And that's just the beginning.
While it is always risky to predict the future, it is safe to say this: Knowledge, research, information and occupations relating to health science, human behaviors, and the quality of life will continue to grow in importance for a global society in an age of accelerated change in an uncertain world.
And this is a solid prediction too: HHS is poised to be a leader in its learning, discovery and engagement initiatives to address these vital issues, challenges and opportunities. Here's a brief look ahead.
Leading the way forward
After an exhaustive nationwide search, Christine Ladisch was formally named the first dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences in January after serving as the college's inaugural dean since the college launched in July 2010.
Ladisch earned the acclamation of colleagues, peers, administrators — and the search committee — by demonstrating her leadership in bringing nine academic units together from three different colleges into one cohesive and complementary new college.
Even as the search for the best person to lead the college went forward, Ladisch initiated a college-wide collaborative process to create the first HHS strategic plan that now serves as its own prescription for success: Informing people's behavioral choices, improving their health and enhancing their quality of life.
"Following two energizing years of college-building activity, we were ready to chart a course for our future," says the dean. "A strong college is built upon strong departments and programs, which we have, but our strategic goals and priorities will help make our departments, and the college overall, even stronger."
Notable accomplishments already have been achieved.
"We have hired 44 incredibly talented new faculty members, recruited high-ability, motivated students and continue to develop high-impact programs centered on improving human health and well-being," Ladisch says.
The new college also boasts new facilities to enhance its learning and research missions.
"We have already celebrated the opening of two new, magnificent teaching and research buildings — Bill and Sally Hanley Hall and Marriott Hall — and we are preparing for the dedication of a third, Lyles-Porter Hall, in fall 2014," she says.
Another area of focus is building research programs that address vital human health and well-being issues. Current and emerging research areas in the college include stuttering, prevention of chronic disease through diet and exercise, development of medical imaging techniques for assessing disease states and treatment outcomes, and the role of psychological and social factors in health.
"We have a great foundation to build on with research-driven initiatives such as the Women's Global Health Institute," the dean says.
New priorities also include reorganization of the public health program and building clusters of expertise in autism, chronic disease prevention and the science of learning.
Ultimately, student success remains at the heart of all the college's initiatives.
"We are asking the question: 'what academic programs, majors and minors will be needed in the future to prepare our students for emerging professions in health and wellness?'" Ladisch says.
"We want to significantly grow undergraduate research opportunities in the college," the dean adds. "Each year, we are adding new study abroad opportunities for our students, and we are also adding a position in our Student Services Office that will focus on career development and job opportunities."
Dean Ladisch is confident in the college's progress, priorities and plans. "If we do this right, HHS will be the 'go to' source for cutting-edge research and academic programs in the realm of human health and well-being. Internally, we aim to create a vibrant, supportive and rewarding work environment for our faculty and staff, new learning opportunities directed toward student success, and outreach programs that make a difference in our communities."