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May 10, 2012

NIU appoints Derryl Block as new dean of College of Health and Human Sciences

Derryl Block

Derryl Block

Wisconsin educator to lead college toward Vision 2020 goals

DeKalb, Ill. — Derryl Block is the new dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences at Northern Illinois University, approved this morning by a vote of the university’s Board of Trustees.

Since 2009, Block has been chair of the Professional Program in Nursing and director of BSN-LINC, an online RN-to-BSN program at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She joined UW-GB in 2001 as an associate professor and, from 2009 to 2011, served as interim dean of the College of Professional and Graduate Studies.

“I’m very excited. It’s a great opportunity, personally and professionally. I love NIU’s array of programs, and there are many opportunities for growth and inter-professional collaboration. NIU has strong faculty and staff and a wonderful student body,” Block said.

“My goals are excellence in the educational programs, graduates who get good jobs in their fields and contribute to society, strong relationships with stakeholders such as community agencies, corporations and alumni and contributions to the knowledge base of health and human science.”

NIU leaders expect Block will broaden the college’s online course offerings while she maintains and forges strong and constructive partnerships within the professional community.

“NIU is thrilled to welcome Derryl Block to our administrative ranks, and we have high expectations that she will guide our College of Health and Human Sciences toward new heights. She is an outstanding educator and forward-thinking administrator with a deep and impressive resume in the health care field,” NIU President John G. Peters said.

“I would also like to extend NIU’s thanks and appreciation to Mary Pritchard for her talent, commitment and skilled stewardship of the college during this interim period. We are grateful for her willingness to step up and for her exemplary service.”

The College of Health and Human Science at NIU promotes health and well-being through scholarship that integrates teaching, research and service.

Students learn in five dedicated teaching laboratories on campus and more than 400 external practicum sites. Virtually all graduates from the health and human sciences programs are employed before or shortly after graduation. The pass rate for graduates in areas requiring licensure and/or certification has consistently been at or above the national mean.

The college also offers several graduate programs, including doctoral degrees in audiology and physical therapy.

“Health and human sciences are certainly a growing area, and given our aging population, we can anticipate increasing need,” Block said. “Growing the online offerings of the college will extend educational opportunities to people beyond the walls of the campus.”

NIU Provost Ray Alden said Block’s experience in Wisconsin, which includes oversight of programs outside health care such as business, education and social work, as well as graduate programs including environmental science and policy, will provide a good match with NIU’s diversity of degree paths.

Block’s time as interim dean also meant responsibility for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Institute for Research, Institute for Learning Partnership and the Northeast Wisconsin Partnership for Children and Families.

“Her background fits well with the direction of new and exciting opportunities in health and human sciences,” he said.

“She has had leadership in a number of different disciplines – nursing, the health sciences, public health – but she also served as interim dean of professional programs, which allowed her to work with a curriculum in business and various other professional endeavors,” he added. “That has obviously prepared her to interact more easily with other deans on dean’s council. We see her as being a natural partner.”

Included in that natural partnership is the continued expansion of online programs.

Among the goals of President Peters’ Vision 2020 Initiative is to “develop 12 to 25 additional online certificate and degree programs (for a total of 49 programs) that are prioritized to meet the highest levels of student demand; and establish a continuing, adequately funded infrastructure to create and support more market-driven, online programs.”

“Dr. Block has been an innovator in online degree completion programs, which is clearly a direction we will be going as a university,” Alden said. “She is very enthusiastic, energetic and innovative in that pursuit.”

Courting partners from the NIU service region is equally crucial, Alden added, and some of the college’s disciplines in hospitality, consumer sciences and family counseling are perfectly suited for such collaborations.

“The opportunities for engagement in our rapidly changing health care arena, both in terms of policy and practice and in the potential partners in the region, are numerous,” he said. “As I told all the candidates, the challenge is the opportunity. There is so much that can be done. We can do it, and do it well.”

Block earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from University of Maryland School of Nursing, a master’s of public health from Johns Hopkins and both a master’s and doctorate in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania.

Her scholarship includes nursing and public health workforce development, planning and evaluation of public health programs and policies and distance education. She was a Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellow from 2003 to 2006.

For more information on the NIU College of Health and Human Sciences, visit http://www.chhs.niu.edu/index.shtml.

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Media Contact: Paul Palian, NIU Media & Public Relations
Phone: 815-753-1681
Email: ppalain@niu.edu