Michael Lacourse has been selected to develop a strategic plan for the expansion of allied health programs at Sam Houston State University.
Lacourse comes to SHSU from his previous position as dean of the School of Health and Human Services for National University in La Jolla, Calif. He also served as the co-director of the National University Technology and Health Sciences Center and associate dean of the College of Health and Human Services and chair of the Department of Kinesiology at California State University, Long Beach.
He is an expert in biomedical statistics and neuromotor control and is the former chief of the Neuromotor Rehabilitation Research Laboratory at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System.
As dean of allied health at SHSU, he will be identifying potential interdisciplinary programs that could be established quickly with existing faculty resources and interests, as well as assessing the local and regional health care industry needs for graduates to determine prospective new programs.
As new programs develop, Lacourse will be coordinating the administrative efforts among all allied health programs with the ultimate goal of creating a College of Allied Health once core programs are established.
Over the past few years, SHSU has made a serious effort to enhance educational opportunities for students in the allied health fields.
The Medical and Allied Health Programs office was first established to offer consistent, current advising for all students in allied health programs and pre-professional studies. MAHP also coordinates and offers examination prep, internship, and scholarship opportunities for students in these fields, as well as articulation opportunities with select professional schools.
“Shortly after the establishment of MAHP, the university initiated efforts to bring a nursing program to campus,” said Jaimie Hebert, SHSU provost and former dean of the College of Sciences. The first graduates of the SHSU nursing program received their degrees in December 2012.
“While establishing these two programs, MAHP and nursing, the demand for additional allied health programs became more and more apparent,” Hebert said.
Hiring a dean to build a college is a unique approach, but not too uncommon at universities with accelerated growth opportunities like the one for allied health programs at SHSU, according to Hebert.
“It was very clear that we can grow this academic area as quickly and as large as we desire in a very short period of time, so we felt it was absolutely necessary to hire a ‘point’ person to ensure that our approach would be strategic as we moved down this path,” Hebert said.
“Dr. Lacourse has a proven track record in this type of endeavor,” Hebert said. “He walked into a situation at National University that was very similar to ours—a nursing program and pockets of interest in pre-professional studies and some allied health programs.
“In a short period, he grew that program to well over 2,000 students in a variety of new disciplines. His excitement at the prospect of doing this again, particularly with the opportunities that abound locally and in The Woodlands, is inspiring,” said Hebert. “I have no doubt that he is the person to develop this college and lead SHSU into the allied health arena.”
Once a few more allied health programs are established at SHSU, the university will consider reorganization opportunities to group administratively the programs with an emphasis on health care, community health, and health care management, according to Hebert.
“By building such homogeneous academic units, we can be much more efficient in our marketing, resource acquisition, and accreditation efforts.”
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