UK Social Work to hire a Chief Well-Being Officer

The University of Kentucky's College of Social Work introduces a unique Chief Well-Being Officer role, designed to foster a supportive and healthy academic workplace, aligning with the College's strategic wellness initiatives.

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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.”

For over 85 years, the College of Social Work (CoSW) at the University of Kentucky has been a leader in education. Our mission is clear: Through rigorous research, excellence in instruction, and steadfast service, the CoSW works to improve the human condition. Always, in all ways.

As the state’s flagship university, our mission is actualized through our deeds. Our faculty are renowned academicians dedicated to fostering the development of high-quality practitioners and researchers. As a college, we promote community and individual well-being through translational research and scholarship, exemplary teaching, and vital community engagement. We are committed to the people and social institutions throughout Kentucky, the nation, and the world.