Program director named health and human sciences interim associate dean

Shawn Collins, director of Western Carolina University’s high-demand Nurse Anesthesia and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs, has been named interim associate dean of the WCU College of Health and Human Sciences.

Shawn Collins

Shawn Collins

In the role, Collins will support academic programs to meet the university’s institutional mission, the college’s strategic goals, and standards and procedures of accrediting bodies. The appointment was effective Monday, Sept. 23.

“Dr. Collins will provide much-needed assistance in the development and implementation of academic initiatives to meet the college’s educational mission,” said Douglas R. Keskula, dean of the college. “We enthusiastically welcome Dr. Collins to our leadership team and look forward to working with him.”

A resident of Mills River, Collins joined the WCU faculty in 2006 and has served not only as assistant director and director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program but also as interim associate director of the School of Nursing for Graduate Nursing Programs from 2012 to 2013.

Under his leadership, the size of each Nurse Anesthesia Program class grew 60 percent to 16 students and achieved the maximum possible reaccreditation – 10 years – with no citations, recommendations or progress reports required.

He also was instrumental in developing WCU’s consortium DNP program with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The program welcomed its first students this year.

In addition, he has helped secure grants for WCU, including more than $1.2 million in funding to expand a high-fidelity simulation laboratory where nursing anesthesia students gain confidence in their skills before working directly with patients.

Collins has authored scholarly articles and presented at national conferences, and his awards and honors include the WCU College of Health and Human Sciences 2013 Faculty Summer Research Award and 2012-13 Faculty Service Award. He is a site reviewer for the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Programs; a peer reviewer for the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists’ publication AANA Journal, the Journal of Applied Christian Leadership and the Journal of Research on Christian Education; and a member of the North Carolina Association of Nurse Anesthetists Education and Research Committee.

His community service includes working with the Health Volunteers Overseas Steering Committee for the Nurse Anesthesia Overseas Division, the International Federation of Nurse Anesthetists for Continuing Education in Developing Countries and the Eta Psi chapter at Western Carolina University of Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society.

He earned a doctorate in leadership in 2012 from Andrews University, where he was presented with the 2011-12 Outstanding Dissertation Award for his research, titled “The Emotional Intelligence Profiles and Cognitive Measures of Nurse Anesthesia Students in the Southeastern United States.” He also holds a doctor of nursing practice in leadership and healthcare management from Rush University in Chicago, a master’s degree in nurse anesthesia from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and bachelor’s and associate’s degrees in nursing from Southern College of Seventh-day Adventists, now Southern Adventist University, in Collegedale, Tenn.

Before coming to WCU, he worked at Asheville Anesthesia Associates as an education in-service coordinator for 90 CRNAs and a clinical instructor for anesthesia students in addition to providing patient care.

Collins will continue in his role as director of the nurse anesthesia program. Linda Comer, executive associate director of the School of Nursing, will direct the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program.

For more information, contact Keskula at 828-227-7271 or