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A Conversation with Interim President and CEO Wendy Rheault

Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FASAHP, FNAP, who has served the university in numerous faculty and administrative capacities for nearly 40 years, brings a deep well of knowledge and a drive to learn more to her latest leadership role as Interim President and CEO.

What's your approach as interim president?

I am committed to providing leadership that will help strengthen all areas of the university. Even though I know a lot about RFU, I don't know everything. One of the very first things I did was reach out to our basic scientists to learn about their research and how the university can continue to support them. So many of our faculty members are thought leaders in their fields, which is a great reflection of the priority we give to recruitment and retention. I'm working to deepen my understanding of all aspects of our institution so we can keep moving forward.

What areas are you working to strengthen?

Increasing philanthropic support is key. We're looking to potential and existing benefactors who believe in our mission, support our spirit of innovation and want to make a difference through targeted gifts that will strengthen our resources around teaching, research and academic- and need-based scholarships. I also want to fuel interprofessionalism and communication across our colleges, programs and curriculum, and also across our excellent administrative and support services.

RFU is known for its curricular innovations, many led by you. Thoughts?

All of our innovations are aimed at producing professionals trained to practice in highly collaborative, interprofessional teams. It's been rewarding to lead institutional teams that have dramatically expanded our use of simulation training and created community service models that are tied to our excellent learning outcomes. RFU must continue to focus on the future of health care and the many forces that are transforming care. Aligning our curriculum and other educational offerings with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's Triple Aim framework is helping our graduates lead changes in healthcare delivery that will improve the health of their patients and communities.

Why is the university working so hard to improve the well-being of its surrounding communities?

Serving our community says a lot about who we are as an institution. By working through partnerships to improve the health and wellness of a sizable underserved and uninsured population, we're modeling the future of care, which is population and outcome-based. Our communities help us as much as we help them. They provide valuable experiential learning opportunities for our students. They help teach the power of partnerships to affect the social determinants of health that are so often the source of unequal burdens of disease.

What do you do during your time off?

My long runs on weekends are sacrosanct, and I'm a doting, long-distance grandmother of two girls. I hope I'm leading by example — particularly for our students — on the need to take care of ourselves, to take time off and plug into the love and support of our family and friends. We all need to recharge.

Posted April 16, 2019
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