University of Rhode Island appoints health expert, researcher from Tennessee to lead new College of Health Sciences

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Gary Liguori
Photo courtesy Gary Liguori

KINGSTON, R.I. – July 19, 2016 – The University of Rhode Island has appointed the head of the Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC) to be the inaugural dean of the newly formed College of Health Sciences.

Gary Liguori comes to URI with 21 years of experience as a university instructor, professor and researcher. Since 2012, he has been the head of the Department of Health and Human Performance at UTC and also founding director of the Healthy Living Center. In addition, Liguori’s research on such topics as physical activity, nutrition, obesity, physical assessment and cardiac rehabilitation has been published widely in academic journals during the past 16 years.

Liguori will lead the first new college established at URI since the mid-1970s. Students and faculty in the College of Health Sciences will work closely with the Colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy as part of the University’s new Academic Health Collaborative, which represents a sweeping reorganization of health education and research programs. Liguori was chosen following a national search. He begins his duties this fall.

As dean, he will serve with the deans of pharmacy and nursing as a member of the executive committee of URI’s Academic Health Collaborative. In that capacity, he will work with faculty across disciplines to build contemporary, robust and forward-looking educational and research programs relevant to the evolving roles of health and health care in the 21st century.

“Gary is an experienced, accomplished, and highly collaborative academic leader,” said Donald H. DeHayes, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “He has a track record of successful program building and creating vital partnerships between university programs and the larger regional community.

“He will play prominent roles in promoting interprofessional education and experiential learning, advancing externally funded research programs, and developing the College’s reputation for excellence throughout the state, region nation and world,” added DeHayes.

Liguori will oversee seven departments or majors in the new college – Communicative Disorders, Health Studies, Human Development and Family Studies, Kinesiology, Nutrition and Food Sciences, Physical Therapy and Psychology. The new college enrolls about 3,000 undergraduate and 350 graduate students.

Prior to the formation of the Academic Health Collaborative, which was launched earlier this year, many of these departments were scattered among other colleges of the University. The Collaborative also includes a new Institute for Integrated Health and Innovation. All elements of the Collaborative are designed to enhance partnerships within the University and relationships with the Rhode Island Department of Health, universities, hospitals and other health agencies and businesses.

“The opportunities at URI, particularly with the new College of Health Sciences and the Academic Health Collaborative, are completely unlimited,” Liguori said. “The URI administration has strategically brought together all of the key units to create a new and lasting legacy in health sciences that I am honored and humbled to lead. The partnership with the Colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy in leading the collaborative is unprecedented, with the expectation to explore, create, and implement health and health care changes that can improve the lives of all Rhode Islanders. I can’t think of a more exciting time to join URI and to see what we can collectively build.”

In his four years as the head of Health and Human Performance at UTC, Liguori managed all department operations, including faculty and staff hiring and evaluations, five undergraduate and two graduate programs. During that time, he increased the number of tenure track faculty in the programs, increased faculty diversity, and facilitated a 50 percent increase in faculty scholarly output. He instituted a student cohort model that improved graduation rates and created more flexible teaching schedules for department faculty.

Last year, he became the founding director of the UTC Healthy Living Center, and was charged by the chancellor to oversee partnerships between UTC and greater Chattanooga to create initiatives that improve the physical, emotional and social well-being of all community members. He also holds the title of visiting professor of medical physiology at the College of Health Sciences at Moi University in Kenya.

From 2005 to 2012, Liguori was assistant/associate professor and graduate coordinator in the Department of Health, Nutrition & Exercise Sciences at North Dakota State University.

He earned his Ph.D. in wellness from the College of Human Development & Education at North Dakota State University and his master of science degree in cardiac rehabilitation/exercise science from East Stroudsburg University. His bachelor’s degree in fitness and wellness is from the University of Central Missouri.

He is a USA Track & Field certified Level One track and field coach and a certified track and field meet official. Liguori is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist, and by the American Heart Association to provide Advanced Cardiac Life Support. He holds the credential of Advanced Physical Fitness Specialist from the Cooper Institute of Aerobics Research.