Interim Dean Kate Mamiseishvili and the College of Education and Health Professions’ leadership team announced a new initiative for the academic year at welcome back events on Friday. WE CARE is an acronym for Wellness and Education Commitment to Arkansas Excellence.
Interim Dean Kate Mamiseishvili and the college leadership team of the College of Education and Health Professions recently announced a new initiative that revolves on tangible ways faculty and staff can collaborate within the college and across the state to address complex challenges in education and health.
WE CARE, an acronym for Wellness and Education Commitment to Arkansas Excellence, furthers three priorities for the 2022-23 academic year. Mamiseishvili developed the objectives with her College of Education and Health Professions’ leadership team over the summer. She shared their vision with faculty and staff at welcome-back events on Friday, encouraging them to create proposals and apply for funds associated with WE CARE.
“We are perfectly positioned to leverage and bring together our expertise from both education and health to extend the national prominence of our college,” Mamiseishvili said, noting that the first priority centers on addressing contemporary challenges in health and education realms. Strategies under this priority include developing interdisciplinary teams to produce research that informs and helps address health and education disparities, collaborating with leading scholars to plot new research trajectories, or developing new unique and high-impact programs and learning experiences for students.
This priority will also support “Dean’s Seminars” for students across health and education disciplines. The first seminar will kick off in Spring 2023. “We believe that providing our students with meaningful, unique and transformative educational experiences strengthens the preparation of educators and health professionals and ultimately improves the care they provide to their future patients and communities,” said Matthew Ganio, associate dean of academic and student affairs.
The second WE CARE priority is to advance the university’s land-grant mission by caring for Arkansans. Strategies include developing and funding opportunities for students to complete their internships, practicums or clinical experiences across the state. “Encouraging field experiences throughout Arkansas provides students with a better understanding of local community needs and opens more opportunities for them to consider careers across the state,” said Michael Hevel, interim associate dean for research, strategy and outreach.
The college also plans to fund educators and health professionals from across Arkansas to spend up to a semester in the college to collaborate with students, faculty and staff. It will also support trips to learn from the state’s educators and health professionals about their communities’ needs and priorities. “Hearing from constituents representing diverse communities improves our ability to serve Arkansas,” said Lewatis McNeal, associate dean for administration and diversity. “Listening and learning tours will support faculty and staff travel to learn more about the successes, challenges and opportunities facing communities and organizations across the state.”
The third priority focuses on the college’s culture. “Our ability to achieve our priorities largely depends on our ability to critically reflect on our own practices, processes and decisions and consider new and creative ways to operate,” Mamiseishvili said. But she and her team also want to invest in the college’s people through “WE CARE Together” events for faculty and staff. “We strongly believe that for us to be able to care for our students and communities we serve, we must also care for each other and create a community where people feel valued,” she said. “These events will help us learn about and celebrate diverse identities, promote inclusion, highlight the variety of talents and expertise in our college, and increase our overall ‘compassion capacity.'”
Mamiseishvili is excited about the possibilities heading into Fall 2022. “The pandemic was a disruptor, but in many ways, it was also an accelerator of change and transformation,” she told the college’s faculty and staff at Friday’s event. “This is our opportunity to take advantage of transformative changes that are taking place in health and education, as well as on every higher education campus today. We hope that the WE CARE initiative is an accelerator of our transformation.”