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JU announces national leader Dr. Christine Sapienza as new Dean of College of Health Sciences

Jacksonville University has turned to a nationally renowned health care expert to lead its College of Health Sciences.

Chris-SapienzaSMALLHEAD1.jpgDr. Christine Sapienza, highly regarded throughout the country for her innovative work in speech-language pathology, has been named Dean of the fast-growing college, and began her new role May 28.

“Dr. Sapienza is a world-class educator and leader, and we are excited to have her drive our efforts in such a critical field for our University and for this region,” said JU President Tim Cost. “One of our crucial goals at JU is to provide the finest cross-disciplinary training that ensures attracting the highest-caliber students, who then stay in and enrich our community. Dr. Sapienza is a passionate and engaging administrator, perfectly suited to this opportunity.”

Prior to becoming Associate Dean of the College of Health Sciences last year, Dr. Sapienza was chair for eight years of the University of Florida’s highly ranked department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, helping it become a top 10 department within the UF Health Science Center. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation R&D Service, the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the non-profit CurePSP.

With her sights set on maximizing a new Health Sciences building opening in August, deploying contemporary classrooms and state-of-the-art instrumentation, rolling out a new master’s program in speech-language pathology this fall, offering advanced health care training and collaborating with health care partners, Sapienza said she is excited to take the helm.

“The opportunity to lead the finest and most dedicated faculty in the College of Health Sciences, to spearhead the new speech-language pathology program and charge academic program development within a highly positive, flexible atmosphere is an exceptional opportunity, particularly when faced with a changing health care landscape of health care policy reform and demand for cost-efficient patient care,” she said.

“The new Nursing simulation lab in the CHS will be a primary example of how advanced interprofessional, health care level training, research and community enrichment occurs in a present-day environment. CHS academics along with the interests of our health care industry partners and community organizations will create a connection between theory and practice.”

Dr. Sapienza said her goal is to ensure the finest student education experience and most rigorous curriculum in the region, in a field in which changing demographics, industry trends and insurance changes have created rising student enrollment and exploding demand at all levels for health care professionals.

“Our new building and classrooms and our creative and informed faculty are some of the reasons I said yes to this new challenge. Having a future-oriented strategy, beyond the traditional practices of training, is what really is exciting.”

Under her leadership, the college has already brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs; received accreditation from the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology for its new master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology, the first in the region; and established partnerships with esteemed healthcare providers such as Brooks Rehabilitation.

Dr. Sapienza has also made it a priority to expand the college’s community outreach, including holding a free “Identify the Signs of Speech, Language and Hearing Disorders” event for residents; supporting the Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center; and speaking to local groups such as the Jacksonville Rotary, Civitan Club and National Association of Teachers of Singing North Florida Chapter. She also is a regular invitee to national health care conferences, carrying out more than a dozen since arriving at JU.Dr. Sapienza succeeds Dr. Judith Erickson, who was named Dean of the School of Nursing at Long Island University in New York.

Media contact: Phillip Milano, JU Director of News and Publications, pmilano@ju.edu, (904) 256-7042.

For more about JU’s College of Health Sciences and its School of Nursing, visit http://ju.edu/COHS.

About Christine Sapienza

Dr. Sapienza is a leader in the field of speech-language pathology. She served as chair of the University of Florida’s department of speech language and hearing department, helping it become a top 10 department within the UF Health Science Center, where she recruited scholars and high-achieving students as well as collaborated on innovative distance learning programs and initiated multiple interdisciplinary research collaborations.

She also holds a research career scientist title with the Malcom Randall VA Brain Rehabilitation Research Center in Gainesville, where she leads a current clinical trial on Parkinson’s disease. She has made significant scientific contributions in the area of voice and respiratory function for people with diseases, and has mentored more than 15 doctoral students now working successfully around the country and the world.

Dr. Sapienza’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation R&D Service, the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the non-profit CurePSP. She is also author of the graduate textbook “Voice Disorders” (Plural Publishing) and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, as well as numerous book chapters and texts.


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