Crystal Harris became the interim associate dean of the School of Nursing and Health Professions after Robyn Gleason resigned to return to nurse practitioning.
Dean of the College of Professional Studies Kathleen O’Connor said that Missouri Western is currently searching internally for a permanent associate dean. O’Connor said that Western is looking for a person with a varied skill set.
“You need to be someone that can focus not only internally with Missouri Western, the students and the faculty but also externally with all the health care agencies and other groups that you’re dealing with,” O’Connor said. “Relational and communication skills are very important. In that unit, you really need to be able to juggle a lot of things at the same time because there’s a lot going on.”
While she could not say for certain that Harris would get the job, O’Connor said that Harris has performed well as interim associate dean.
“I think anytime there’s a transition in leadership, particularly when it’s a sudden transition, it’s unsettling,” O’Connor said. “I think she’s done a very nice job just managing all of that and gaining the confidence of the people and the faculty and the staff of the School of Nursing and Health Professions.”
Provost Jeanne Daffron said that Harris has the skills to perform well as the permanent associate dean.
“She’s very well-respected throughout the state,” Daffron said. “She’s a good problem solver. She’s so dedicated to the program and to the students in the program. All the way around, she has the qualities that you want in someone who has responsibilities for planning and directing a unit like that.”
Daffron was also unable to confirm that Harris will be the permanent associate dean.
The School of Nursing and Health Professions contains four programs and maintains over 100 partnerships with clinical agencies such as Mosaic Life Care and Cerner. It is the responsibility of the associate dean to oversee these programs and partnerships.
In addition to this, O’Connor said that this is a very busy time for most academic departments.
“January and February tend to be very busy time for leaders of academic units,” O’Connor said. “It’s the beginning of an academic term, faculty workloads are due, faculty evaluations are coming, there’s just a lot going on.”
Gleason, the previous associate dean, was a practicing nurse in Florida when she took the job at Western in December of 2016. O’Connor said that Gleason decided that she would rather be a practicing nurse than an administrator.
“She moved here from Florida and she made the decision that what she really wanted to do, using her words, to finish out her career is to devote her time as a nurse practitioner,” O’Connor said.
“The demands of the associate dean position were such that she knew that she would not be able to maintain her nurse practitioner certifications and be the associate dean at the same time,” O’Connor said.
Harris said that she has appreciated being the interim associate dean.
“I’ve appreciated the opportunity to be the interim associate dean and I value the support that I’ve received from Dr. O’Connor, Dr. Daffron, the President and many others across campus,” Harris said.
O’Connor and Daffron both said that a final decision should be made within the coming weeks.