As part of the search for the new dean of the Decker School of Nursing, the current dean for the College of Nursing and Health Science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston (UMB), gave a presentation on what the school would look like with her at the helm.
Anahid Kulwicki has been the dean at UMB since 2012. One of the cornerstones of her proposal for the Decker School of Nursing is to assess current course offerings and expand successful ones, such as class programs and specialization, that align with the national educational efforts. She said she also wanted to follow the national shift towards technologically-based learning by implementing more distance or online learning and simulations.
“Faculty who want to be [involved] in some kind of innovation need to understand that there are pluses and minuses,” she said. “There is no hidden agenda for the dean. The dean is not here at all to punish or derail the system but the dean also expects that faculty are going to be supportive to make this work.”
Kulwicki placed heavy emphasis on increased opportunities to work with other fields in terms of professional education, research and practice. She said she wants to develop strong intercollegiate academic partnerships and establish relationships between health science and other BU departments and colleges like the Watson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the College of Community and Public Affairs, the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the School of Management to strengthen and grow the Decker School of Nursing.
“We need to increase research and scholarly productivity in health and wellness,” she said. “Through trans-disciplinary and inter-professional practice we can actually broaden — and you’d be surprised where we can include departments.”
She described the creation of an executive committee composed of faculty, administration and communities of interest to make recommendations to the dean and foster a greater sense of transparency. The committee would meet once a month to assess faculty priorities, develop a collective mission and discuss necessary changes.
“If the faculty doesn’t understand what the benchmarks are for their performance, how do you know they are going to get to where they want to be, or where you want them to be?” she said.
As part of an effort to revitalize the school’s community engagement outside of campus, Kulwicki proposed strengthening partnerships with clinical institutions by improving and expanding faculty and student placement.
“We have to be engaged in our communities,” she said. “We talk about sustainable communities — how can we sustain their well-being?”
She said that her vision is to increase research and scholarly productivity by recruiting writing specialists and consultants to assist faculty with papers and assist faculty in developing their own research programs. Kulwicki said she would focus on the importance of obtaining top-tier grants and funding to help grow the health science programs and increase prestige.
“Faculty that get those grants are going to be your top researchers,” she said.
In the question and answer period at the end of the presentation, Calvin Gantt, the Educational Opportunity Program director, said he was concerned by a lack of diversity in undergraduate nursing students, as the healthcare system should be as diverse as the population it cares for. Kulwicki said she would work towards obtaining more funding through outside grants to attract low-income or first-generation college students.
The next candidate, Mario Ortiz, will present on Tuesday, April 5.