29 January 2019
Current interim Dean of the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences Amy Silva-Smith will be stepping aside during the summer for Kevin Laudner. Laudner was chosen after a national search, and currently works at Illinois State University.
Laudner will be moving to Colorado for the first time to fill this position, and has an Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training, a Master’s degree in Health Science Teacher Education and a PhD in Sports Medicine.
Laudner’s said his goal is to maintain the current strengths of the college and develop its weaker areas, focusing a large part of his time on the Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center and developing community partnerships.
“As an administrator, you have to make all of these decisions and weigh the pros and cons, and every once in a while you have to remind yourself why you’re here,” said Laudner, “And why you’re here is to help students.”
The college wants to grow its research program, and Silva-Smith said that part of the reason Laudner was chosen was because they believe he will aid in that growth.
“We are a growing research university, but we have a commitment to students that is greater than a research university,” said Silva-Smith. “We needed someone who had a very strong understanding and personal research program that reflected a passion and experience around research.”
Silva-Smith said that Laudner has a balanced approach to teaching and research.
“Those researchers who are in our college came here because they wanted a balance between teaching and research,” said Silva-Smith. “I think we need a greater emphasis on research, and [Laudner] has the right experience to help us do that.”
Laudner’s proudest moments in education are watching his students succeed and having an impact in the classroom and in research.
“To see what they went on to do based, in small part, on those interactions — always something that resonated with me,” said Laudner. “I vicariously live through their accomplishments.”
As an administrator, Laudner experiences the same pride with his students, but with instructors as well.
Laudner said he is excited to come to UCCS, saying that the people he met when visiting campus was the best part of his experience.
“The people. It’s always what makes a job good or bad,” said Laudner. “The college has a really strong history already, and it’s growing and adding new programs. It’s got great facilities.”
Laudner is excited about the possibilities for the future and loved the energy on campus.
According to a Communique article about Laudner’s appointment as dean, the college expects enrollment to double when the Hybl Center opens in 2020.
Silva-Smith said that the expectation for enrollment doubling comes from analyzing trends across the nation.
“Health professions majors that require a science based undergraduate degree, many of them are choosing exercise science over other more traditional majors such as chemistry and biology, looking for something a little more application focused in their education,” said Silva-Smith.
“It’s achievable, but it will take a lot of work,” said Laudner. He agreed that it matches trends for other schools across the nation. He thinks that the university is fully supportive of the growth potential.
Laudner wants to balance the growth.
“We want to make sure we don’t grow too fast too quickly. And we have to grow strategically,” said Laudner, who was concerned about graduating students into fields where there are not enough jobs.
According to Laudner, there are shortages in a lot of jobs in nursing and physical therapy.
Another concern for Laudner was making sure that the college has enough faculty and lab equipment to properly prepare the students for professions. The programs in the college need a lot of hands on interaction with faculty in labs.
Silva-Smith said that research will be easier with the new facilities, and that prospective students will pick UCCS over other schools because of the hands on experience that the Hybl Center will provide.
“Human physiology, which includes the exercise science program, and athletic training, will be in the Hybl Center. Everything else will stay in [University Hall].”
Silva-Smith is looking forward to having Laudner bring an outside perspective to the college.
“We need new ideas,” said Silva-Smith. She added that the new frame of mind will help the college make positive changes.
Laudner wants students to come to him to have their voices heard.
“As an administrator, the toughest thing was knowing that I wouldn’t be teaching anymore. I love interacting with students and hearing about the good and the bad of the program,” said Laudner. “I want to know about their plans for the future.”