Health dean down to three candidates

Mackenzie Mathews

The College of Health and Human Services is set to receive a new dean this year. 

Jeffrey Katz, dean of the Gordon Ford College of Business, chaired the search committee responsible for selecting three candidates qualified for the position. Katz said the process began after Nov. 15, the deadline to submit applications.

“Following application submission, the search committee carefully considered the qualifications of each applicant and made a request to invite three candidates for the position to campus for interviews,” he said.


Each contender will be on campus for interviews Feb. 10 through Feb. 18. Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, will then have a couple of weeks to determine who will fill the position. His or her term as dean will begin July 1 of this year.

The three candidates are Sylvia Gaiko, Dean May and Carmen Burkhalter.

Gaiko is presently the associate vice president for Planning & Program Development in the Office of Academic Affairs at WKU. In her “Deanship Leadership Philosophy,” Gaiko said the dean’s job is to assist in the formation of successful students.

“It is the dean’s job to facilitate the resources and information necessary to ensure leaders in the college have what is necessary to succeed in the instructional, service, and research arenas,” she said.

Dean May is currently the department head of social work and interim regional chancellor of the WKU Elizabethtown and Fort Knox campuses. He said in his “Concept of the Deanship” that the dean should expand a college in order to produce students with effective lives outside the university.

“The internal management of the College of Health and Human Services and its human and fiscal resources are developed by the dean for the purpose of preparing professionals to positively impact their communities, their states, the nation and the world,” May said.

The third candidate, Carmen Burkhalter, is now the senior associate dean and senior information officer in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Alabama. She said in her “Statement on the Deanship of the College of Health and Human Services” that it is the dean’s responsibility to oversee success in the college.

“I believe that a college mirrors the strengths of its faculty, staff and students and can only improve if it is helping them to meet their challenges. Recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff therefore requires that a dean work closely with all departments,” Burkhalter said.

According to Katz, the search for a new dean of CHHS began after former dean John Bonaguro’s returned to a faculty position in an attempt to ease into retirement after serving as dean for 10 years. Bonaguro was the founding dean of CHHS, WKU’s newest college, which was formed in 2002.

Katz said Bonaguro had a distinguishing tenure as the dean of CHHS.

“Dean Bonaguro is an outstanding leader who has served our university and the health services community throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky with great distinction,” he said.