Idaho State University’s Kasiska Division of Health Sciences expanding, reorganizing for growth


POCATELLO – A reorganization of the Kasiska Division of Health Sciences has added three new colleges at Idaho State University.

Rex Force, vice president for health sciences at ISU, said the reorganization of the division will help improve communication and organizational efficiencies within the KDHS, and across the University.

“We wanted to pursue this reorganization because we’re interested in having the right kind of representation for our growing programs,” Force said, “For example, we have the most comprehensive training for nursing in the state, so becoming a college is a benefit to them.”

The current School of Nursing will now be called the College of Nursing. Anita Smith will replace Interim Dean Nancy Renn as the new Dean for the College of Nursing, and will start in August 2018. Smith is currently with the Bureau of Navy Medicine at the Defense Health Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia, serving with the rank of captain. She has previously held academic appointments at the University of South Alabama and Point Loma Nazarene University.

The current School of Health Professions and Office of Medical and Oral Health will merge, and will now be called the College of Health Professions. Laura McKnight, has been appointed as dean for this college. McKnight is currently the program director and clinical associate professor for dietetics at ISU, and has been working for ISU for over 20 years.

“I am very honored to take on this new role at ISU,” McKnight said. ”I have been a faculty member in the dietetic programs at ISU for over 24 years, serving as program director for the past 10. Though it is difficult to leave something you have done for a long time, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with colleagues in the many health professions in the College of Health Professions and foster an environment of interprofessional collaboration.”

The existing School of Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences will now be called the College of Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences. Kathleen Kangas has been appointed as dean of this college. Kangas is currently the chair and a professor in the School of Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences, Speech Pathology and Audiology. She has been working for ISU for 28 years.

“Establishing this new College is a recognition of the growth and development in the Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences programs,” Kangas said. “I look forward to the new opportunities to continue expanding access to our programs and increasing our community connections. I have been a faculty member at ISU since 1990, and I am proud of my association with this student-centered university. I am honored by the opportunity to serve our faculty, communities and students in this new role.”

The fourth college in the KDHS, the College of Pharmacy, will continue to operate under the direction of Dean Paul Cady and will celebrate its’ 100th year with a centennial celebration in 2020.

ISU’s Executive Vice President and Provost Laura Woodworth-Ney said of the plans to reorganize the KDHS, "This new structure will enhance ISU’s role as a leader in the health sciences, and will facilitate the expansion of health science programs to meet state and industry demand."

Students in the health professions programs at ISU make up one-third of the student body, and many of the health sciences education programs continually grow their applicant and enrollment numbers each year. As Idaho’s only state-mandated university for health professions education, KDHS administrators say they are committed to their mission of providing leadership in the delivery of rural health care by educating caring and competent professionals across all dimensions of health.

“As the need for health care providers continues to grow, we need to fulfill our mission to help educate skilled health professionals and prepare them for practice in Idaho and beyond,” Force said.

The Kasiska Division of Health Sciences submitted a formal request for restructuring to the Idaho State Board of Education in January 2018, and received approval in May. The KDHS offers more than 40 health professions degree options on campuses in Pocatello, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, Meridian and Anchorage, Alaska. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities is ISU’s regional accreditor, and KDHS programs are accredited by 15 other various specialized accrediting bodies.


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