As one of his first official duties as founding Dean, Christopher I. Ingersoll announced key leadership appointments for the College of Health Professions and Sciences. “I want to thank all who have agreed to serve in a leadership role in the college,” Ingersoll said. “I am looking forward to working with this exceptional group of professionals as we continue to build our new college.”
Denise Gammonley, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Interim Associate Dean Of Undergraduate Affairs
Denise Gammonley is a professor in the School of Social Work and the Interim Associate Dean of Undergraduate Affairs in the College of Health Professions and Sciences.
Gammonley graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in social work before getting her Ph.D. in social work from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
During the course of her 30-year career, she has worked as a licensed clinician and supervisor; she has also taught the next generation of social workers for the past 16 years at the University of Central Florida.
Gammonley is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, the highest class of membership within the society and is an acknowledgment of outstanding and continuing work in the field of gerontology.
She also was a John A. Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholar. This honor is awarded by the Gerontological Society of America to advance geriatric social work research and increase the number of educators and role models preparing future generations of social workers to serve the nation’s older adults.
Gammonley served as a national mentor and expert trainer for the National Center for Gerontological Social Work Education. Her research focuses on promoting person-centered care and training the eldercare workforce to enhance the quality of care delivered in health and long-term care settings.
“One thing that is interesting about our undergraduate degree programs in our college is we prepare our students to go into graduate programs for specific fields,” Gammonley said. “But one thing we also want to make sure is that we prepare our students for the work force, too. That is one of my missions in this role.”
But when she is not teaching or advocating for new opportunities for undergraduate students, Gammonley enjoys spending time outdoors. She pours her energy, passion and excitement into tackling great outdoor adventures, pushing the limits of her mind and body. Her greatest outdoor adventures to date include hiking the 24-mile rim-to-rim hike in the Grand Canyon and kayaking parts of the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, Florida’s longest and most ambitious sea kayaking trail.
Gammonley carries that same excitement and energy into her role, looking forward to the challenges ahead for the fall semester. “We want to provide more high-impact experiences,” she said. “I would love for every student who comes through the college to have at least one high-impact (study abroad, undergraduate research) experience. But I have to also recognize in this role the need and the desire for student to graduate in a timely manner.”
Bari Hoffman Ruddy, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Interim Associate Dean Of Clinical Affairs
Bari Hoffman Ruddy enjoys spending most of her free time shepherding her two daughters to and from dance practices, competitions and rehearsals but also enjoys outdoor adventures including paddle boarding and kayaking.
There was a time, however, when her own days were filled with voice lessons, auditions and performances in musical theater. She still has a heart for music but has been able to merge elements of her passion into her profession.
Hoffman Ruddy is a professor in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Interim Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs for the College of Health Professions and Sciences. She has agreed to continue serving in the latter role until the position is filled permanently in the fall.
Hoffman Ruddy received her doctoral degree in speech and voice science from the University of Florida, and her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Central Florida and is a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Hoffman Ruddy has also received numerous awards for outstanding research and teaching from UCF, as was specifically recognized with the university’s Luminary Award for being an academic leader in her field and for conducting work that has a significant impact on the world.
She has strategically developed extensive expertise in upper airway disorders, resulting in one of the first human studies using respiratory muscle strength training to carry out simultaneous assessments of breathing, voice, and cough function. This interdisciplinary research involves contributions from otolaryngologists and pulmonologists and addresses how an increase in inspiratory muscle strength affects laryngeal function and aids in the resolution of vocal pathology and airway protection.
She works with physicians, engineers and computer scientists to document the movement of tumors in the upper airway during breathing to help prevent inaccurate delivery of radiation during radiotherapy, as well as the development of new treatment technology.
Due to the nature of her work, Hoffman Ruddy also partners with faculty and students in UCF’s School of Performing Arts and survivors of head and neck cancers through her wide network of partners in the medical community.
“It is incredibly rewarding when a patient (or caregiver) expresses the positive impact participating in our research has had on their daily lives,” Hoffman Ruddy said. “In one recent example, we studied an intervention to increase respiratory muscle force in patients who underwent laryngectomy (complete removal of their voice box) due to invasive cancer of the larynx.”
At the end of participation in the study, Hoffman Ruddy said, one individual described substantial improvement in his breathing and cough but also (with excitement) he shared that he was able to ballroom dance and go on daily walks with his wife again – something he had not engaged in for over three years since his cancer diagnosis.
“This is a new role for the college,” she said of her new position. “What’s exciting is we have an opportunity to develop some innovative interprofessional relationships and contemporary transdisciplinary opportunities through clinical research, education and more.”
Hoffman-Ruddy hopes that, through her new role, she will be able to help create clinical experiences for students to enrich their education with real-world experiences and prepare them to step into the field as strong health care leaders.
Gail Kauwell, Ph.D.
Chair of the Department of Health Sciences
No pun intended, but Gail Kauwell brings a lot to UCF’s table. The newly appointed director of the Department of Health Sciences in the College of Health Professions and Sciences has an extensive background in nutrition and dietetics.
Kauwell joins UCF from the University of Florida, where she retired in 2018 after 36 years as Professor Emeritus and a Distinguished Teaching Scholar.
Kauwell received her doctorate and master’s degrees from UF and two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Maine, Orono. After that, she started her job search.
An advertisement for a position in sunny Florida caught her eye. She stayed with her grandparents who drove her to the interview at a local hospital. Kauwell told them she would be done in an hour – two at the most.
Her grandparents decided to explore the city for a while before returning to pick her up. The interview was fast-paced and exciting, and Kauwell lost track of time.
When Kauwell did not return to the agreed upon meeting place seven hours later, her alarmed grandparents contacted hospital security, certain that something had happened to their granddaughter. Nevertheless, she was offered the position the next day.
While at UF, Kauwell secured and administered $3.8 million of research funding, including both “hard-core” research grants and grants aimed at translating research into consumer-oriented nutrition education curricula and related information.
Much of Kauwell’s research focuses on the water-soluble vitamin folate/folic acid found in dark green leafy vegetables, asparagus, legumes, enriched cereal and grain products, peanuts, orange juice and strawberries. This vitamin plays an important role in DNA synthesis, cell growth and genetics.
Folic acid, the form of the vitamin in supplements and enriched grains/cereals have been linked with a reduction in the risk for having a baby with a neural tube defect such as spina bifida.
It is important for women who can become pregnant to consume enough folic acid (400 micrograms a day) before they become pregnant, Kauwell said, because the neural tube, which forms the baby’s spine and brain, develops during the first 26 days of pregnancy – before most women know they are pregnant.
In regard to nutritional advice in general, Kauwell said, “There’s a lot of nutrition nonsense out there – remember there are no miracle foods or diets. While there is more than one eating pattern that can help to achieve a healthy intake, a sensible approach includes eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins – animal or vegetable – and limiting the intake of foods like sweets, sugary beverages and snack foods.”
For tailored nutritional advice, Kauwell recommends seeking out the services of a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) through UCF Student Health Services or through various community practices and health clinics.
Kauwell has received numerous teaching awards throughout her career, including the national USDA Teacher of the Year Award and selection as an inaugural member of UF’s Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars. She’s also received several prestigious awards from national professional organizations and societies, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Medallion Award in 2010, one of that organization’s highest honors.
Kauwell said she looks forward to ensuring that the Department of Health Sciences provides our Knights with a level of educational preparation and experience that sets them apart from graduates of other institutions seeking careers in a health profession or pursuing graduate education.
“I definitely noticed the enthusiasm and collegiality of the faculty and staff when I interviewed for this position,” Kauwell said. “I plan to continue advancing the strong undergraduate curriculum developed by Interim Chair Suha Saleh, to pursue the development of a graduate program and to support our faculty, staff and students in achieving their goals.”
Kauwell and her husband, Peter Johnson, live with their 13+ year old Golden Retriever, CJ. A retired guide dog, CJ sports sunglasses when riding in the back seat of Peter’s convertible, a sight that makes people smile, laugh and whip out their cell phones for a photo. Kauwell also has three adult stepchildren and two grandchildren.
Jennifer Kent-Walsh, B.Ed., M.Sc., Ph.D., CCC-SLP, S-LP(C)
Interim Director Of The School Of Communication Sciences And Disorders And Associate Dean For Research
On August 8, 2019, the College of Health Professions and Sciences will welcome Jennifer Kent-Walsh, Ph.D., as the permanent associate dean for research and the interim director of the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders.
“An experienced leader, Professor Kent-Walsh is also a prolific scholar with an outstanding record of extramural funding in communication sciences and disorders,” said Christopher Ingersoll, Ph.D., founding dean of the UCF College of Health Professions and Sciences.
Kent-Walsh will split her time between the two roles for the next year while a national search is conducted to identify a new director for the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. She will then assume the associate dean for research position full-time.
In addition to her recent appointments, Kent-Walsh is also the director of the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) Demonstration Center and Augmentative and Alternative Communication Lab at UCF.
Kent-Walsh received her undergraduate degree in education from McGill University and her master’s degree in communication disorders from Dalhousie University in Canada; early in her career, she worked as a classroom teacher and speech-language pathologist in public school and hospital settings in Canada and England.
She then went on to earn her Doctor of Philosophy in communication sciences and disorders from The Pennsylvania State University in 2003; she has been a certified and licensed speech-language pathologist in Canada and the US since 2000.
A UCF faculty member since 2003, Kent-Walsh has received numerous university, state, regional and national awards and recognitions for her accomplishments, including Honors of the Association from the Florida Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists and fellowship of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. In addition to receiving many UCF excellence awards at the college and university levels, Kent-Walsh is also the only UCF faculty member to simultaneously have received the university’s three competitive incentive awards – for teaching, research, and the scholarship of teaching and learning – twice to date.
In receiving an inaugural UCF Luminary Award in 2017, the university noted “Kent-Walsh’s work directly impacts the lives of children who have developmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy, childhood apraxia and Down syndrome. She spends her days researching ways to help children improve their speech and, in the process, she has improved the standard of care and clinical outcomes for children with severe speech disorders who use computerized speech-output devices.”
Kent-Walsh also received the inaugural Marchioli Collective Impact Innovation Award in 2017 in recognition of her contributions to advancing outcomes within the university’s strategic plan. The university noted that “By founding the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) Center at UCF, Kent-Walsh has made the simple dream of communicating a reality for many with significant speech impairments. The clinic, which has an overarching goal of academic and clinical teaching, research and service, is able to help community members gain a “voice,” while training the next generation of speech-language pathologists.”
Kent-Walsh’s research is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health and her interests focus primarily on developing and evaluating interventions to improve language and communication outcomes for children with developmental disabilities who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).
As the associate dean for research, Kent-Walsh is passionate about helping her colleagues to launch and advance their research careers.
“It is incredibly rewarding to see people achieve their own research dreams and to effect positive change in the world in doing so,” Kent-Walsh said. “We all have brighter futures as a result of the work being done by researchers in our new College of Health Professions and Sciences; it is my great privilege to have the opportunity to work with incredible faculty members across disciplines as they collaborate to shape and advance the healthcare research landscape.”
Ana Leon, Ph.D., LCSW
Interim Director For The School Of Social Work
Some say it’s the thought that counts. And while that may be true in some cases, the School of Social Work’s newly appointed interim director, Ana Leon, Ph.D., LCSW holds on to the action behind her words as a way to harness her expertise and resources to help those who really need it.
“I’ve always been drawn toward helping others, especially children improve their health and mental health,” Leon says.
And for 25 years at UCF as a professor of clinical social work, Leon has shared her passion for improving the lives of children and families with the many individuals and students she encountered along her journey.
She admits that helping others is not always easy and believes that not everyone understands the role and value of clinical social workers. She advises her students to always stay ahead of burnout.
“Since my focus is predominately on pediatric health and mental health, some of my clients in the past have been infants and children who have experienced trauma and other challenges that affected their overall health as well as their social and emotional development,” Leon says. “I will never forget the first time I got in touch with the problems faced by children in our society. It always reminds me of the important contributions that our clinical social work students make during their internships and after graduation.”
As interim director, Leon will build on the values set in place by her predecessor, Bonnie Yegidis Ph.D. “Professor Yegidis has established a strong foundation for the future of our school. I want to ensure we continue to develop our research and provide quality education. I especially want others to understand the full scope of clinical social work as a health-related discipline.”
Along with that, Leon plans to emphasize four characteristics of value she calls “The Four C’s”: collegiality, communication, collaboration and commitment. “By engaging in collegiality and supporting honest flow of communication, our faculty and students will be able to collaborate with their colleagues including, other CHPS units, to uphold our School’s commitment to produce quality work that elicits substantial change not only in the college and university but also in the larger Central Florida community.”
That kind of change is only possible with a strong support system and Leon encourages her students to build a strong network of individuals to help them get through some of the hardest days they may have to face in their social work career. “For me, over the years, it’s been my husband and the diverse group of women who mentored me. Through many debriefings, these individuals offered their unyielding support and encouragement to help me reach my full potential.”
As a way of balancing out her work life, Leon relies on her love of boxing, walking, taking photos of animals and birds in natural surroundings and reading mystery books. Leon strives to walk an average of three to four miles every day. “Most people don’t know that I love my quiet time, where I can reflect and commune with nature,” she says.
“Always be proud of the support you are providing to the people you are helping – even if you don’t see it, know it’s changing someone’s life. Charge on!”
– Ana Leon, Professor and Interim Director, School of Social Work
Linda I. Rosa-Lugo, Ed.D., CCC-SLP, ASHA Fellow
Associate Dean For Faculty Excellence And Graduate And Global Affairs
Rosa-Lugo Educates, instills passion in Speech-Language Pathology students. “Grant-mother” Rosa-Lugo talks about her passion to improve the quality of life for deaf and hard-of-hearing children.
Maybe Linda I. Rosa-Lugo, newly appointed associate dean for Faculty Excellence and Graduate and Global Affairs in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, should have a T-shirt made that says, “Ask Me About My Grant-Babies.” That’s what Rosa-Lugo lovingly calls the children of her former students who benefited from a USDOE/OSEP personnel preparation multi-year grant that Rosa-Lugo received.
The Department of Education grants were used to address a critical shortage of speech-language pathologists (SLP) in the school setting and provided funds that prepared 42 SLPs to address language and literacy in school-age English learners.
Rosa-Lugo stays in contact with her former students through email and social media. The joy with which she shows off the many photos of the children and their alumni parents rivals any grandmother’s.
Rosa-Lugo is also passionate about developing listening and spoken language curricula for children with hearing loss and for second language acquisition in English learners. A subsequent USDOE/OSEP collaborative personnel preparation grant with the University of South Florida resulted in 43 graduates in this specialty area. She also is the Founder of the UCF Listening Center, which provides services to families with children with hearing loss.
Rosa-Lugo has also served as the coordinator of the School of Communication Sciences and Disorder’s master’s program for approximately 20 years and has a secondary appointment in the College of Community Innovation and Education. Rosa-Lugo also was granted a courtesy faculty appointment at the University of South Florida in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.
“I am so grateful to Founding Dean Christopher Ingersoll and the University of Central Florida for their belief and support in my life’s work,” Rosa-Lugo said. “I am humbled by this recognition.”
Rosa-Lugo began her career in New York, where she was a certified elementary education teacher and a certified bilingual educator. She also served as a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing and administrator overseeing special education in the borough of the Bronx.
After 14 years in the public-school system, Rosa-Lugo decided to further her education so she could have a greater impact on children and future educators. Her journey brought her to the University of Central Florida, where she has been since 1995.
Rosa-Lugo continues to serve as the faculty coordinator for Consortium track leading to the Master of Arts in Communication Sciences and Disorders. The goal of the program is to address the critical shortage of public-school speech-language pathologists and focuses on preparing graduate students to work in ten Central Florida counties.
Amber Holsen ’14 MA, one of Rosa-Lugo’s former students, was recently named Speech-Language Pathologist of the Year for Orange County Public Schools.
“Dr. Rosa-Lugo definitely influenced and shaped me to be the SLP I am today,” Holsen said. “I am very thankful for everything I learned and for all my professors and mentors.”
Rosa-Lugo has received multiple internal and external honors for her dedication to her profession. In 2014, Rosa-Lugo was awarded Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, one of the organization’s highest honors.
In 2018, she was honored by the UCF Board of Trustees for her trailblazing work in developing clinical study abroad programs. She was just notified that she will be recognized in Orlando at the November 2019 ASHA annual convention where she will receive the 2019 Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Contributions in International Achievement.
Rosa-Lugo has partnered with institutions in Puerto Rico, Brazil and Costa Rica to bring a select group of graduate clinicians to develop culturally competent skills. The trips are life-changing for the students.
Rosa-Lugo is always on the lookout for ways to enrich her students and support the community. Recently, she and her students supported CAMP We Sign, (camp for deaf or hard-of-hearing children and their siblings) to attend a special interpreted performance Orlando Shakes, where the Signing Shadows – volunteer sign language interpreters who shadow each actor.
“It is so rewarding to see the passion our UCF students have about learning how to work with children with hearing loss and their families, as well as the deaf and hard of hearing community. Rosa-Lugo said. “My hope is that my students will remember the importance of recognizing the cultural and linguistic diversity in children with hearing loss.”
Jeffrey Stout, Ph.D.
Founding Director, School Of Kinesiology And Physical Therapy
Jeffrey Stout is a professor of kinesiology and the founding director for the School of Kinesiology and Physical Therapy. He returns to the latter role after serving as the interim dean for the College of Health Professions and Sciences for the past year.
“I was humbled to be asked to serve in the role as interim dean,” Stout said. “Our team pulled together and accomplished some remarkable achievements in our first year, and I am now looking forward to returning to teaching our students and collaborating with our great faculty.”
Born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Stout was the first person in his family to graduate from college. He was also the first student to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in exercise science when it was first introduced at Concordia University in Nebraska 30 years ago.
While at Concordia, Stout was a student-athlete for the track and field team and for the bowling team. He then earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in exercise physiology from the University of Nebraska.
Stout continues to engage, not only his mind with research, but also his youthful heart and spirit.
He continues to enjoy bowling (in college, he had a high score of 289) and is a member of a bowling league, “Just for fun,” he says. At age 40, Stout started participating in judo. He competed and won the U.S. Open in Judo’s masters division and earned his black belt just four years later.
Stout is an internationally certified judo coach and likes to train and watch his children who are international judo competitors.
During his career, he has co-authored more than 280 peer-reviewed publications, 305 national and international presentations, eight books, and 12 book chapters focused on topics including nutrition, exercise performance, and body composition in young and older populations. He has also received numerous honors and recognitions, both nationally and locally, for his work in higher education and research.
As the founding director of the new School of Kinesiology and Physical Therapy, which encompasses physical therapy, kinesiology (formerly known as sport and exercise science) and athletic training, Stout’s objective is to elevate the awareness of the new school across the university and the country.
“We bring together exceptional and reputable programs that are unique to any other department or school in the country. I may be biased, but I think we are the best.” Stout says, “Knowledge by our peers about the programs in the college is some of the growth I want to see as well.”
Stout also desires to see a greater understanding of the various disciplines shared among students as well.
“If you are passionate about human performance, injury prevention, diagnosis and treatment, as well as rehabilitation for athletes, or patients of all ages and abilities, then the School of Kinesiology and Physical Therapy is the place for you.”