Dean of College of Education and Health Professions to Return to Faculty Next Fall

Tom Smith
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Tom Smith

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Tom Smith, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas, will return to the faculty in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in 2015.

Sharon Gaber, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, has appointed Todd Shields, dean of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, to chair the search committee for Smith’s successor as dean.

“The College of Education and Health Professions has made many remarkable accomplishments during Dean Smith’s tenure, including being awarded what is believed to be the largest research grant the University of Arkansas has ever received,” Gaber said.

“The $32 million grant will establish the PROMISE program to help teens with disabilities have a paid work experience,” she said. “It’s an example of many strides made by the college under Dean Smith’s leadership to support education and health systems in the state of Arkansas and beyond. We are confident we will find a dean who can carry forward the initiatives underway already and continue to build a better future.”

Smith, a University Professor of special education, served as interim dean for one year before accepting a five-year appointment in 2010.

“This was not an easy decision,” Smith said. “While leadership transitions are never easy, I believe this is a good time for a leadership change in the college. I want to recognize my faculty and staff who have worked very hard helping our college make significant progress over the past five years. I appreciate their dedication and have enjoyed working with them. Their priority is always our students and ensuring we offer the highest quality programs possible.”

The search committee is seeking nominees for the dean’s position and plans to begin reviewing applications in October. The committee expects to interview candidates toward the end of the fall semester with a decision to be made next spring.

The search committee is composed of the following members:

  • Jamie Banks, senior director of development and external relations
  • Pegge Bell, director of the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing
  • Robert Costrell, professor of education reform
  • Kim Frazier, associate professor of communication disorders
  • Denise Garner, retired oncology nurse practitioner
  • Marcia Imbeau, professor of special education
  • Stavros Kavouras, associate professor of exercise science
  • Kate Mamiseishvili, head of the Department of Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders
  • Katy Nelson-Ginder, assistant vice chancellor for development
  • Nicole Green, doctoral student in higher education
  • John Pijanowski, professor of educational leadership
  • Diana Gonzales Worthen, director of Project RISE (Realizing and Increasing Student Excellence)

The College of Education and Health Professions comprises five academic departments with more than 100 faculty members, the university’s intramural and recreational sports department, and 17 research and service units. Smith cited several examples of what faculty and staff have accomplished over the past five years, including:

  • The U.S. Department of Education awarded the college, in affiliation with the Arkansas Department of Education, a $32.4 million grant over five years to establish the Arkansas PROMISE program that will provide paid work experiences for 1,000 Arkansas teens with disabilities.
  • The college received $17.3 million in grant and contract funding for the 2013-14 academic year for the highest level of external funding to date and the highest total among colleges on the U of A campus.
  • The college’s teacher-preparation programs received a “very favorable” review last year from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.
  • The college established Arkansas Teacher Corps, which helps Arkansas school districts in high-need areas fill open teaching positions. Another new program, supported by the Walton Family Foundation, will establish the Principal Fellows Program to help supply highly skilled teachers and administrators to some of Arkansas’ poorest public schools.
  • Enrollment has grown significantly at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. For fall 2013, the college enrolled 1,203 graduate students – the most of any college on the U of A campus – and 3,997 undergraduates, the second-largest enrollment of any college on campus.
  • The college established several new degree programs, including nursing programs to address a shortage of nurses and nurse educators. It also created a bachelor’s degree in special education.
  • The college established the Autism Support Program to provide intensive services for U of A students with autism spectrum disorders and opened an applied behavior analysis clinic to provide therapy for children with autism.
  • Peabody Hall was restored and renovated. The $8.8 million project was completed in 2011. Peabody Hall was the first building on campus constructed with private funds – a $40,000 donation from the Peabody Education Fund. It has housed teacher-education programs continuously from the time it opened in 1913.
  • The Epley Center for Health Professions housing the nursing and communication disorders programs was opened in 2012. It was constructed from the former student health center on Razorback Road.
  • The college’s graduate education programs rose in the U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate School rankings, climbing 47 places in one year to No. 86. The programs placed 70th among public universities. The college’s rehabilitation education and research program held steady in the top 20 of U.S. News rankings of those programs at No. 16. It has been ranked in the top 20 for more than a decade.

Sharon Gaber, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs
University of Arkansas

Tom Smith, dean
College of Education and Health Professions

Heidi Wells, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions


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