R. Scott Ward, Ph.D., former long-time chair of the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training, is named the interim dean for University of Utah (U of U) College of Health (COH). Effective July 1, 2022, Ward will lead one of the largest colleges on U of U campus, which includes six departments and more than 2,300 students. He succeeds David H. Perrin, Ph.D., who will retire on June 30.
“Dr. Ward has been an integral member of the university community for more than 30 years and is uniquely qualified to assume this important leadership position,” said Michael L. Good, M.D., Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, Executive Dean of the Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine, and CEO of U of U Health. “He has served in numerous leadership capacities, including as departmental chair. His experience will help guide the College of Health through this period of leadership succession.”
A U of U alum, Ward received both his bachelor’s degree in physical therapy and his Ph.D. in physiology there. He spent his entire teaching career at the U of U, starting as a clinical assistant professor for the Division of Physical Therapy in 1987 and obtaining professor status in 2004. Most recently he chaired the physical therapy department for 15 years, from 1997-2021, and various COH committees over the years. He’s currently a member of the U’s Athletics Advisory Committee.
Throughout his distinguished career, Ward devoted countless hours to—and held numerous leadership positions on—multiple professional organizations. He is a trustee for the American Physical Therapy Association and a site reviewer for both the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education and the World Physiotherapy Accreditation Committee.
Ward was also instrumental in establishing a Doctor of Physical Therapy Program in collaboration with Utah Tech University, the COH’s first satellite professional clinical training program. The new program increased the number of DPT students in the COH to more than 70, with one third learning in St. George. With Ward’s leadership, students and faculty now serve the Southern Utah community.
“I’m proud to lead the College of Health, which focuses on the health of individuals and the health of the communities that it serves,” Ward said. “I’m proud to serve with faculty who work so hard, and I’m excited to work with such great staff who are dedicated to making the college successful.”
Ward also shares high praise for the outgoing dean. “Dave Perrin is an incredible leader,” he said. “While serving as dean, he did an amazing job of making the university and the greater community aware of the strengths and importance of the College of Health. It certainly makes it easier to serve as interim dean after such successful leadership. I’m prepared to keep things moving upward as we search for our next dean.”
Perrin led the COH as dean from 2014-2022. His accomplishments include restructuring the college’s departments, increasing the active grant portfolio from $10.5 million to $75.4 million, and successfully navigating the COVID-19 pandemic with pivots to online learning and telehealth services.
Good also recognizes Perrin’s accomplishments. “Dean Perrin made a tremendous positive impact on the college,” he said. “We are incredibly grateful for his years of leadership. His work has been instrumental to the College’s success—and the overall success of U of U Health.”
A nationwide search for the next dean of the College of Health is underway.