Kristofer Hagglund named dean of MU School of Health Professions

Monday, May 20, 2013 | 7:28 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — In his 12 years as associate dean of MU’s School of Health Professions, Kristofer Hagglund has witnessed the school quadruple in enrollment.

The school announced Monday that Hagglund had been selected as dean, effective July 1. He will replace Richard Oliver, the founding dean who had been with the school since it separated from the MU School of Medicine in 2000.

In 2001, when Hagglund started as associate dean, the school had fewer than 600 students, Oliver said. Since then, enrollment has grown to 2,500.

“I recruited him here, and I think he’s done a stellar job,” Oliver said.

Hagglund talked about the satisfaction he feels about helping the school grow in enrollment and expand the services it offers to the community, such as fitness classes, occupational therapy clinics and a preschool program for children with speech and language difficulties.

“I don’t suspect that all associate deanships are alike,” Hagglund said. “Mine’s just been a great deal of fun over the past 12 years.”

Hagglund said one of his favorite moments as associate dean came in 2007, when the university approved the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program. The program now has about 1,300 students, Hagglund said.

Hagglund said he discovered his interest in public health in 2000 when he was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow in Washington, D.C. He was working in Sen. Tom Harkin’s office, preparing for a hearing on public health.

“It just struck me that you can do a lot of good for a lot of people through public health initiatives,” he said.

Hagglund is also director of the Master of Public Health Program, a role he will miss.

“It’s going to be difficult for me to have to give up the public health role, but that’s a fantastic team,” he said.

His first act as dean, he said, will be listening.

“I have a great sense of duty to listen well and to commit myself to doing this job well,” he said. “To follow someone like Rich Oliver is a very humbling experience.”

Oliver will begin a two-year term as president of The Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions.

“It’ll be good for me as a transitional role, but it’ll also be good for the university to know that we’re respected enough that a person like me has been asked to assume the presidency of this national association,” Oliver said.

Oliver said he thinks the school will be in capable hands after he leaves. 

“Having his inside knowledge as our associate dean, he can carry on and build on the great success we’ve had working together,” Oliver said of Hagglund.

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