College of Health Professions completes dean finalist interviews


John R. Todorovich stands at the front of the Lake Michigan Room in Bovee University Center on Monday, February 8, 2016. Todorovich is a candidate to become the Dean of the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions. Chelsea Grobelny | Staff Photographer

After more than a year with its dean position vacant, a search committee for the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions has begun its interview process to hire a dean.

Four finalists have been chosen from a nationwide search: John Todorovich, Constance Qualls, Gregory Frazer and CHP interim Dean Thomas Masterson.

Dean of Faculty and Administration for the College of Medicine Linda Perkowski, head of the 14-person search committee, met with the candidates via Skype.

The committee is looking for someone who has "credentials in a health-related or other appropriate field and academic achievements appropriate for appointment as a tenured full professor" and "a record of outstanding administrative and academic leadership experience," among other qualifications.

Perkowski said the committee hopes to have the position filled by the end of the semester, but how soon the candidate can come to the university depends on when they can leave their other job.

John Todorovich

Strategic planning was something heavily emphasized by John Todorovich, department chair of exercise science and community health at the University of West Florida.

"My vision is to figure out why certain things (in the college) have happened or not happened," he said.

Todorovich said he has four principles he lives and works by: family, teaching, friendship and being an administrator.

“I am very much a people person," Todorovich said. "I enjoy challenges and problem solving.”

During the interview, the committee sat down with Todorovich and asked him questions for nearly an hour about what makes him believe he is the best candidate.

Todorovich spoke in front of the committee and a crowd of about 20 people, comprised of students and other faculty. He spent much of the time comparing his experiences at the University West Florida and explaining how the skills he acquired on the job would be transferable to CMU.

Todorovich expressed a want to establish a nursing program at CMU to make it competitive with other universities.

After starting his career in higher education at the University of Wyoming, he moved to the University of Florida. He eventually settled at the University of West Florida, becoming department chair of exercise science and community health. After being there for 10 years, he decided it was time for a change.

Thomas Masterson

Masterson has been in an administrative role since 2007. He has served as interim dean since the resignation of former CHP Dean Christopher Ingersoll, who left CMU in January 2015.

When facing challenges, or even just decisions in general, he is a firm believer in getting input from others in the college. Masterson said it is important to talk to faculty members who his decisions could affect.

“There are lots of areas we need success in, but I want buy-in from the college,” Masterson said. “We need to make at least two or three goals as a college and we need to be more strategic with our planning.”

During the interview, Masterson discussed his plans for CHP. He thinks there should be more online programs, an undergraduate program that is strictly online and more investment in research.

Masterson prides himself on knowing CMU and what it's like to work with CHP.

“One of my strongest skills is that I can talk to people and build teams,” Masterson said. “I have the administrative skills and institutional knowledge that is needed.”

People in the audience had their own ideas of what they would like to see from the new dean.

Physical therapy faculty member Karen Grossnickle wants a dean who has vision and innovative ideas “not just promoting programs," but also research.

"A dean should be able to handle the changing environments in the health field,” Grossnickle said.

Chairperson for Health Sciences within CHP Jeff Betts hopes to see enrollment for the college increase and more grants and donations come in so tuition does not have to be raised.

“We need someone who will deal with funding, maintain our programs, work successfully with (CMED) to move us forward,” Betts said.

Constance Qualls

Team building and receiving internal feedback from faculty in CHP was emphasized by Constance Qualls during her dean interview Feb. 11.

"One of the first thing(s) I want to do is an assessment," she said. "This is to make sure I know what's happening, where they're happening, who people are, what's working very well based on (faculty opinion) and what isn't. I'm going to use that information to then go to the leaders (of the university) and say, 'This is what I would like, this data and the trends I'm seeing' and then we'd talk about where we want to go from there based on this feedback."

Qualls wants to expand the number of doctoral programs offered through the college, which she believes is key in producing graduates ready for the field of health administration. This is because the field is constantly changing and updating its rules and regulations, Qualls said.

Establishing a clinical doctorate in the communication disorders program would be one of the first courses she would create if she became dean.

"We have the model here for more doctorate programs and that could bring a new population of students to CMU,” Qualls said.

She also has interest in working with "community partners" around Mount Pleasant, wanting to immerse health professions students into their future jobs.

Qualls is the Director of Graduate Program in Speech-Language Pathology at Suny-Buffalo State. She’s also had administrative experience at Texas State University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Texas. This would be her first deanship. She explained how her experiences at other colleges allows her to be a leader and team builder.

Members of the audience had certain qualities they are looking for in the new dean.

Mary Moran Hill, associate vice president for financial services and reporting, wants a dean who is fiscally responsible.

“I would like someone who understands budget processes and makes good decisions for the college,” Hill said. “That means making conservative choices and not spending a budget just because you have one. (The dean) needs to have a strategy.”

Faculty member in the Physician Assistant Program Jessica Gardon Rose said the college needs a dean who will "facilitate culture change in the college," has “high energy" and is a visionary.

Gregory Frazer

Gregory Frazer was the last finalist to be interview by the dean search committee this morning. He is finishing up 14 years as dean of the Rangos School of Health Sciences at Duquesne University. He strongly believes being a dean is the best possible job because he is able to work with faculty, students and can immediately impact what goes on at the school.

Frazer spoke for a long time about student success and how he plays a role in guaranteeing such. While at Duquesne, Frazer changed the focus of the college to be more student-centered by paying for tutors for the freshman in the biology department.

“There is no reason why you couldn’t be the best,” Frazer said.

When Frazer asked the audience what he should be asking for when working with administration outside of the college, attendees agreed that space is key and that the college is in need of a special addition.

In December, the Board of Trustees released a media packet that stated “existing programs” within the college have “reached maximum facility capacity,” and are unable to grow despite student demand. The programs at capacity include the physician assistant program, the health science major, the communication disorders program, the physical therapy doctoral program, the master of public health and health administration major.

The proposed capital outlay project calls for a 62,000 square foot center that would cost an estimated $26 million. If approved, the programming phase would begin immediately, with completion expected about 18 months after the start of construction. The current start date is not yet known.

People in the audience also mentioned how they would like a fiscally responsible dean, which Frazer said, was not a problem.

“I don’t know how to be any other way,” he said.

Roger Coles, a Greenville resident and former Central Michigan University dean of the graduate school, attended the meeting in order to meet the possible new staff members.

“(The new dean will) play an important role (in the college), so I wanted to be here for it,” he said.


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