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Dr. Wendy Rheault Appointed Interim President

Provost Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FNAP, was appointed interim president by the Board of Trustees on Sept. 13. She assumes her new post on Jan. 1, 2019, succeeding retiring President and CEO K. Michael Welch, MB, ChB, FRCP.

“We’re grateful for Dr. Welch’s 16 years of innovative leadership,” Dr. Rheault said. “Among the many successes of his administration is our strong commitment to community engagement. RFU has become a model for how universities can work with and on behalf of their communities to improve health and well-being.”

The Board of Trustees also approved the creation of a search committee for the university’s next president and CEO. Representative of the university’s various constituencies, the committee will work “to identify a leader who will sustain RFU’s momentum, build upon its strengths and enhance its stability,” said Board Chair Frank Mynard.

Dr. Rheault has served the university for 36 years in numerous faculty and administrative capacities. She was instrumental in the adoption and development of RFU’s pioneering model of interprofessional education (IPE) and its strategic investment in simulation. She has been crucial to the success of the 2016–2019 Strategic Plan, leading a new focus on diversifying and maximizing academic and clinical partnerships, building a culture of assessment and continuous quality improvement, and strengthening the university’s brand.

“Sustainability is not just about procuring financial resources and having enough money, it’s also about staying true to our mission,” Dr. Rheault told the RFU community during a Provost’s Town Hall held Sept. 25. “We’ve done great things over the last 16 years under Dr. Welch’s leadership, but we need to continue to evolve and grow. We need to continue to self-assess and look at what we can do better.”

Envisioning the next strategic plan, Dr. Rheault outlined potential areas of growth including: embracing a “culture of philanthropy as a shared responsibility”; targeted faculty recruitment as a means to growing the university’s research enterprise; simulation as a strategy for meeting the education and training needs of clinical partners; and new academic programs.

“We need to innovate in every area of the academy,” she said.

Dr. Rheault is a national leader in health professions education reform, working throughout her career to redefine health care as an interprofessional team-based effort to improve the well-being of people and their communities. She led numerous curricular innovations at RFU aimed at producing professionals trained to practice in highly collaborative, interprofessional teams. She supports the university’s continued strong investment in the Chicago Medical School and its new curriculum, which integrates basic and clinical sciences and incorporates more IPE and simulation.

As dean of the College of Health Professions from 2003 to 2014, Dr. Rheault oversaw a doubling of RFU’s enrollment with the addition of programs including doctor of physical therapy, physician assistant studies, pathologists’ assistant, nurse anesthesia, health administration, health professions education and interprofessional healthcare studies.

She has led pipeline and pathway programs under the Alliance for Health Sciences with DePaul University and developed strong partnerships with the Lake County Health Department and the Lake County Opioid Initiative.

Dr. Rheault is a distinguished fellow of the National Academies of Practice and Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP). She has served as a visiting professor at the Mayo Clinic, on two committees of the National Academy of Medicine, as a member of the board of the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County and past president of the Midwest Deans of the ASAHP.

Named in 2018 among Crain’s Chicago Notable Women in Education and Distinguished Alumni of the Year by Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where she earned a BS in physical therapy, Dr. Rheault is also an alumna of the University of Chicago, which awarded her a master of arts in curriculum and instruction, and a PhD in measurement, evaluation and statistical analysis.

Posted November 19
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