A School of Nursing student checks a patient’s vital signs.

Launched in 2016, the College of Health is Ball State’s newest college. Today, the College of Health has pioneering research, such as studying the effects of exercise, and highly ranked and respected academic programs in many facets of health care.

Its roughly 30,000 alumni have served their communities as nurses, dieticians, speech pathologists, audiologists, social workers, and counselors. Graduates include physician and wound-care expert Shark Bird, United Way Worldwide president and CEO Brian Gallagher, dietician and entrepreneur Betsy Opyt, and St. Vincent Hospital executive Erica Wehrmeister.

College of Health Dean Mitch Whaley (shown above) sat down with Ball State Magazine to reflect on Ball State’s Centennial and discuss his college’s bright future.

What accomplishment of the College of Health are you most proud of?

The establishment of our college was a team effort — a collaboration that brought together seven academic departments from three different colleges. We have a strong foundation to build on, and we’re proud of the contributions our programs have made to Ball State’s first 100 years.

The histories of our programs are separate, but our future is collective. Our future is brighter because it’s collective. The collaboration that started the College of Health continues today and in the years to come.

What three initiatives are you most looking forward to?

We are optimistic about our future, where faculty and students from different disciplines work collectively toward the same goal — better patient care.

Today, a hospital patient might see a nurse, speech therapist, and a dietician in the same day. If these health care professionals interact, it may be by accident. At Ball State, we aim to make that interaction intentional. Instead of training student nurses, speech therapists, dieticians, and others to fulfill separate roles to care for one patient, we are preparing them to collaborate. We call that interprofessional education, and it’s a huge part of our future.

The most visible example is our Health Professions Building, which opens next Fall. The $62.5 million structure will encompass about 165,000 square feet and have classrooms, laboratories, offices, a resource hub, simulation labs/suites, and clinical spaces. The most important factor: It is designed for physical and educational interaction between departments. We will be co-located for a reason: to interact with each other in preparing students and conducting research. This approach provides fresh perspectives and new insights.

artist’s rendering of new Health Professions Building

An artist’s rendering portrays the new Health Professions Building. Set to open in the Fall, the $62.5 million, 165,000-square-foot structure will include classrooms, simulation labs/suites, and community health clinics. Its design reflects the college’s interprofessional approach, encouraging interactions between departments.

We also will engage more with community partners who help us train students. We will blend real-world and educational settings, where clinicians and other health professionals visit our college and professors and students visit a hospital or clinic. The goal: a seamless transition between higher education and the professions.

What facets about the College of Health should people know?

School of Kinesiology’s biomechanics lab.

A hallmark of the College of Health is its fruitful collaboration between students from different departments. Above, exercise science students consult with a nursing major on patient results in the School of Kinesiology’s biomechanics lab.

As dean, I am proudest when employers single out Ball State graduates as the most prepared for their professions. With our interprofessional education, future Ball State graduates will be even more sought after because they will be the best team members anyone can hire. Future leadership in health care will come from Ball State University.

How does the College of Health encourage students to live the Beneficence Pledge?

The Beneficence Pledge is a great way to articulate what our programs were already doing. Our students live the pledge. Their collaboration fits into the pledge. Our college’s strategy and goals fit into the pledge.

How does the College of Health empower students?

When we have students from different areas and faculty from different areas collaborate, We Fly — not only in the classroom by learning but also by doing with faculty alongside them. We’re flying as a team.

What would you like to highlight for the Centennial?

As Ball State enters its second century, our unified commitment at the College of Health will benefit students, faculty, and our partners in the community and the state of Indiana. Ball State’s values — excellence, integrity, social responsibility, respect, gratitude, innovation, and courage — guide us today and will endure as we embrace a bright future.