During the last academic calendar year, the college of Nursing and Health Sciences did not have an official dean. Dr. John Lubker served as interim dean, but the college needed a full time person to take on the role. WTAMU selected applicants from across the nation, and looked for people who had served in important leadership roles throughout their careers.
A small committee carefully selected four promising candidates, and had them visit campus. Dr. Dirk Nelson stood out among the applicants, and was asked to fill the role of dean for the college of NHS.
Dr. Jessica Mallard, professor of communication studies, led the search committee. The other three members represented the college of NHS–Helen Reyes from Nursing, Lorna Strong from Sports and Exercise Science and Dr. Larry Barnes from Communication Disorders. The first quality Mallard noticed was Dr. Nelson’s genuine attitude. Compared to the other applicants, he displayed an honest conviction to be at WT.
“It impressed us that he took the job position seriously,” Dr. Mallard said. “Back in Missouri, his daughter is a senior in high school, and he is sacrificing a solid year from his family to be here. That kind of dedication is profound.”
In order to find a good candidate, the University investsedsome money. The Chronicle of Higher Education is a publication where universities post job offerings. Between the months of finding a good applicant, taking out add space and sitting down to weed through the applicants, WT spent about two thousand dollars to find Dr. Nelson.
“We did have to spend money,” Dr. Mallard said, “but overall we hired the best guy for the job.”
In 1989, Dr. Nelson started his career at Missouri Southern State University. After spending ten year at MSSU, Dr. Nelson moved to Texas to teach at Laterno University in Longview Texas. Four years later he went back to Missouri and taught at Central Missouri for seven years.
“I perceive a lot of opportunities in the college of Nursing and Health Sciences,” Dr. Nelson said. “I think the potential for growth at WT is one reason I came here.”
The programs in NHS are developing steadily. Dr. Nelson would like to keep moving in the same track while unifying students, faculty and staff towards a common goal.
Dr. Nelson received his doctorate at the University of Kansas. While in his second year of doctoral work, he was a graduate teaching assistant. One day, while he was working, another student came in to do some computer work. She was new to the program D.O.S. (Disc Operating Systems), and had not formatted her disc correctly. Dr. Nelson helped her with her plight, and a year later they married. “I proposed to her in the same computer lab,” Dr. Nelson said. “I think that is pretty romantic for me. Twenty one years later, we are still happily married. It is definitely a sacrifice to not be near her and the family.”
Students are ready to see what the new dean will do for their departments.
“I think because his background is in nutrition he will be able to provide equal attention to all three departments,” Jennifer Ewers, senior sports and exercise science major, said.
The addition of Dr. Nelson to the college of NHS has been anticipated. After a year of hard searching and months of planning, the department is ready to move forward.