New CHP dean to bring changes for Wichita State, community
When Sandra Bibb accepted her new job at Wichita State University, she took time to explore the campus all by herself. She admired the statue “Three Women Walking” and stopped to read in the Plaza of Heroines.
She sought out the Ulrich Museum of Art, Fiske Hall and Millie the Millipede, and made sure she could find her way from Ahlberg to Morrison Hall without getting lost. Bibb said she wanted to get to know her new home and was pleased with what she found.
Bibb is the new dean of the College of Health Professions (CHP), recruited to Wichita State from her post as the associate dean for faculty affairs at the Graduate School of Nursing at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, in Bethesda, Md.
She has been a nurse for 40 years – 30 of those in the U.S. Navy. Bibb brings to Wichita State a vision for CHP that aligns with WSU’s strategic plan: to become the model for education, innovation and service for the greater public good.
Bibb was comfortable in her 10th year at the Uniformed Services University, she said, but the time for change had come.
“I’ve always enjoyed every aspect of academia, but I really enjoy mentoring and coaching,” Bibb said. “I knew I wanted to pursue a position in academic leadership, but I wanted a more interprofessional environment. That’s when I began to think about who I was and how I wanted to position myself, and that’s when I began to look for opportunities.”
Bibb approached the possibility of a career change with cautious deliberation. One thing that attracted her to Wichita State was the university’s strategic plan.
“When I retired from the military and took my first job,” she said, “I wanted to be in a position to take a job that fit my personal beliefs, mission and values, and not take a job just to have a job. That’s what I was looking for when I applied at Wichita State.”
Now that she’s here, Bibb said she plans to spend time listening and learning. Before she even applied for the job, Bibb researched the area’s population health data and learned about priorities for improving community health.
Under her leadership, CHP will adopt a population-based common framework for all departments to operate from, a pattern that will start at WSU and move out into the community.
“It’s a process and a cultural transformation that has to happen,” Bibb said.
Faculty members at Wichita State don’t just teach, they do research and collaborative work outside the university. They and their students act as ambassadors. This is how the CHP, Wichita State and the community will grow.
A community focus is important, Bibb said, because health is influenced by multiple determinants like the physical environment, social support and the availability of resources and activities promoting health. Wichita State can be the agent that brings all that together.
Bibb acknowledged that there was an important element of doing business in education, but she stressed that establishing relationships was her first priority. Although the college is already tightknit, Bibb said, she intends to make them her family.
“I’m very interested in establishing a sense of community,” she said. “The College of Health Professions has a lot of departments, but we all have one mission, one vision – leading change in health care education. No matter how you look at it, we’re all here for that purpose.”
To build that community, Bibb wants her students and faculty to get to know one other and understand what the other CHP programs are about. When they are all on the same page, she said, “then we can identify opportunities to collaborate and have some fun together.”
Bibb is no stranger to change, and she expects her presence in CHP to bring plenty of it.
“Whenever there is an introduction of change, there has to be this unfreezing to let the new piece in,” Bibb said, “which is me in this case. There are relationships that are already established without me being a part. I want to be part of this family. I think that will become a major strength in terms of us moving ahead and impacting change in health care education.”
To effect change beyond the college, Bibb said the key will be moving toward an interprofessional culture.
Bibb uses the term “interprofessional” broadly. She means it in the same sense as WSU President John Bardo when he established the goal for WSU to pioneer education across disciplines, integrating experience with learning, making connections between academic fields, society and culture. Bibb wants to set that keystone firmly in place not only between specialties in her college, but between CHP and other departments at Wichita State, and between WSU and the Wichita community.
Multidiscipinary teamwork is already stressed in the college’s Interprofessional Education program. Bibb wants even more interaction across disciplines in collaborative research and innovation to model interprofessional behavior for students and for the community.
Health care in the 21st Century has become global and technology driven, and Bibb is passionate about being at the front of that change. But, she says, health care delivery must remain patient-centered.
“We look at the needs of the patient and we look at health as more than the absence of disease,” Bibb explained. “In order to be patient-centered and focused on these holistic concepts, it takes a team. One person cannot do it.”
Bibb’s tenure as dean of the College of Health Professions begins Monday, Aug. 11.