New health sciences dean advocates more collaboration among disciplines, colleges


It is not surprising that a person who has devoted her life to the study of health would find her relaxation in a lotus position. For Cheryl Samuels, new dean of the College of Health Sciences, yoga is both an outlet for and source of her boundless energy.

"It really helps to keep your body and your mind in balance," she explained, noting she took her first yoga class when she was 22 and now is certified to teach it.

One of her reasons for embracing yoga is the same as her reason for getting into health care - helping people improve the quality of life through educational programs aimed at the prevention of illness and promotion of a healthy lifestyle.

An Ohio native, Samuels always knew she wanted to go into health care. She considered nursing but ultimately went with dental hygiene. However, the administrative side of it was a real draw because it allowed her to gain a cross-disciplinary perspective.

"It gives me the opportunity to work with a lot of different health programs and help the programs think of ways to collaborate and work together in research and service," she said.

In fact, increased collaboration among schools, departments and colleges is one of Samuels' objectives for the college.

Community outreach is another, as is increasing the college's profile in order to educate the public about career possibilities within the health sciences.

"We need to think more holistically and know how all elements work together to influence the health of an individual or community," she explained. "Our world is so complex that we have to work together across disciplines to solve some of these complex problems."

Because there is a shortage of health care providers, those in the field must come together to provide the most efficient and effective services possible. "There's tremendous strength in what you can do when working with various players who have a vested interest in the health care profession."

Samuels sees a need for more aggressive marketing about career opportunities. "Health care fields are not as well known (among youth) because young people are relatively healthy," she said.

She has been impressed by the health sciences faculty's ability to adapt to changing times and changing needs of their profession and the university.

"This is a very innovative faculty who have embraced distance learning and have excelled in the strength of their clinical education programs," Samuels said, noting distance learning is a key to reaching new populations who might not otherwise be exposed to opportunities in health sciences.

Before succeeding Lindsay L. Rettie in July to become the college's second dean, Samuels had been dean of the College of Allied Health and Nursing at Minnesota State University, Mankato, since 1995. She previously held positions at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where she was acting vice president for academic affairs, special assistant to the president, and chair and graduate program director in the dental school's dental hygiene department.

In addition, she served as special assistant to the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services System for strategic planning and program development.

Samuels holds a doctorate in policy sciences and an advanced certificate in administrative practice from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, a master's in dental hygiene education from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor's in education from Ohio State University. TOP