For 85 years, the College of Social Work at the University of Kentucky has been steadfastly committed to improving the wellbeing of people.
Now, that commitment has taken on a new form.
Last Fall, Dean Jay Miller announced plans to hire a Chief Well-Being Officer (CWO). This role, which is unique to CoSW, was designed to cultivate a healthy, productive, and supported workplace for faculty and staff.
“This new position will be instrumental for supporting faculty and staff in navigating an ever-changing academic workspace,” said Sheila Barnhart, associate professor and chairperson for CoSW’s Wellness Committee. “This effort by the Dean’s office not only aligns with the College of Social Work’s Forward, Together Plan, but is consistent with the University’s UK-PURPOSE Plan.”
The focus on developing and supporting faculty and staff is a seminal theme for CoSW. In 2021, Dean Miller initiated an ambitious administrative agenda focused on conceptualizing several workplace initiatives. These efforts, which were captured in CoSW’s Forward, Together: Strategic Priorities Plan, included the Investment in Ingenuity and Initiative (I3) Program and the BRIGHT Administrative Leadership Initiative, among others.
The CWO will oversee the conceptualization, creation, and maintenance of an overall wellness culture that promotes advocacy, openness, and support. In addition, the CWO will oversee an array support initiatives for social work field clinical and practica supervisors. This role will report directly to the Office of the Dean.
“As we all know, working in academe can be challenging. Research suggests that university faculty and staff, in general, may experience high levels of stress and occupational burnout,” explained Miller. “That said, we want strive to make CoSW an ideal place to be employed, educated, and engaged. The CWO position is one way we continue to actualize those goals.”