HAYS, KS -- Dr. Jeff Briggs, who had served as dean of the College of Health and Life Sciences on an interim basis for nearly two years, was introduced at a news conference this morning as Fort Hays State University's choice to fill the position permanently.
Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, introduced the new dean. "Jeff filled in as interim dean when the position came open, but initially he was reluctant to leave teaching for a permanent job as a full-time administrator," the president said. "I'm very pleased that he decided to apply for the dean position because we actually conducted two national searches and neither produced a candidate better suited for this key leadership position."
The job of dean is one of the top five academic posts at FHSU. Dr. Larry Gould fills the position of provost, the university's chief academic officer, and a dean leads each of the university's four colleges -- Health and Life Sciences, Education and Technology, Business and Leadership, and Arts and Sciences.
Gould could not attend the news conference because he was traveling overseas on university business, but he played a key role in persuading Briggs to accept the permanent appointment.
President Hammond cited his depth of academic knowledge and experience as key attributes that brought Briggs to the top of the list of applicants. "Jeff has 20 years of experience in higher education at five institutions, with appointments as a lecturer/instructor, tenure-track and tenured faculty member, and academic administrative responsibilities including graduate program coordinator, department chair and interim dean," the president said. "This array of experiences has allowed him to develop the skills and attributes necessary for success as dean of the College of Health and Life Sciences."
Briggs is an FHSU alumnus, graduating in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in physical education. He also earned a master's degree in health, physical education and recreation in 1984 from FHSU and an education doctorate in kinesiology in 1993 from the University of Arkansas.
He began his teaching career as a graduate assistant at FHSU in 1983-84 and as an instructor and assistant football coach from 1985 to 1987. He spent the years from 1987 to 1998 teaching and coaching at Chadron State College in Nebraska, Western Michigan University, the University of Arkansas and Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. He returned to FHSU in 1998 as chair and associate professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance. He accepted the position of interim dean in 2003.
Dr. Briggs has been active in all phases of academic life, including research, publishing, presenting and grants. His honors include the 1998 Teaching Excellence Award in the College of Education at Stephen F. Austin State University and the 2002 Faculty Research Award in the College of Health and Life Sciences at FHSU.
He also has been extensively involved in community service. He is a member of the Hays Recreation Commission Board of Directors, the Kansas State Special Olympics Organizing Committee, the Foster Grandparent Program Advisory Council, and the Senior Companion Program Advisory Council.
" The foundation of any academic unit is its faculty and in this regard the College of Health and Life Sciences is second to none," Briggs said. "The college is characterized by academic departments that have distinctly skilled faculty and outstanding departmental leadership with programs committed to providing a high quality education with a real concern for student development. Faculty involvement extends well beyond providing traditional instruction and includes a strong emphasis on meaningful research and significant service to the university, the community and the region."
He added: "I thank the faculty, staff, and administration for their support during my time at Fort Hays State University. I look forward to working with all of the programs in the College of Health and Life Sciences as we move forward to meet the challenges that lie ahead."
President Hammond said that Briggs's local knowledge and his proven skills as an administrator also made him the obvious choice as dean. "Jeff has a really good value system, he's a hard worker, and he relates well to his faculty, his staff and the students of his college. I'm really pleased to introduce him today as the permanent dean of the College of Health and Life Sciences."
The president also thanked Dr. John Greathouse, chair of the Agriculture Department, and the other members of the search committee for their diligence in producing such an outstanding choice for dean.