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Kelly A. Tappenden, PhD, RD, Appointed Dean of the College of Health

Kelly A. Tappenden, PhD, RD, has been appointed dean of the College of Health (COH) at the University of Utah, effective July 1, 2023.

Tappenden comes to the University of Utah from the University of Illinois Chicago, where she currently serves as professor and head of the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition. She is also the interim head of the Department of Occupational Therapy. She is a past president of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition and was the organization’s inaugural fellow in 2012. She previously served as a board member for the American Gastroenterological Association and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Kelly Tappenden

As an award-winning researcher, Tappenden focuses on intestinal failure, mechanisms of intestinal adaptation, and patient malnutrition. She has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and delivered numerous invited lectures. For her commitment to education, she’s received the University of Illinois Distinguished Teacher-Scholar Award, the American Society for Nutrition Excellence in Nutrition Education Award, and the American Gastroenterological Association Research Mentor Award.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Tappenden as the College of Health’s next leader,” said Michael L. Good, MD, CEO of University of Utah Health and senior vice president for health sciences. “She is an extremely accomplished leader, educator, and scientist who is highly respected nationally and internationally. Her background, accomplishments, and leadership skills make her a perfect fit for the University of Utah and U of U Health, and we know she will help the College of Health continue to achieve excellence in our missions and national prominence for our work.”

As dean, Tappenden will provide leadership and overall direction to the educational, research, and clinical initiatives of the College of Health, which is one of the largest at the University of Utah. She will provide strategic vision and operational leadership to all aspects of the academic and scholarly programs, creating an environment and community that support the college’s faculty, staff, and students, with a focus on ensuring equity, increasing inclusion, and driving diversity. She will support the university’s research mission by advancing the scholarly activities of faculty and work collaboratively with the President and Provost, Vice Presidents, Deans, and other U of U leaders to achieve strategic goals.

Tappenden received her PhD in nutrition and metabolism from the University of Alberta and served as a post-doctoral fellow for the Department of Integrative Biology, Physiology & Pharmacology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Before joining the University of Illinois Chicago, she served as a provost fellow and endowed professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

”I am honored to join the College of Health at the University of Utah,” Tappenden said. “I look forward to learning from and working with faculty, staff, and students as we collaborate with our community partners to innovate education, advance knowledge, address disparities, and redefine the human healthspan.”

When Tappenden begins her appointment on July 1, she will succeed R. Scott Ward, PhD, who has served as interim dean since July 2022, when he stepped in for David H. Perrin, PhD, who retired in June 2022 after eight years as the college’s dean.

“Dr. Ward spent many years in leadership positions before taking on the interim dean role, and that experience paid off,” Good said. “We are grateful for his long-term commitment to the college and thank him for his outstanding work in keeping the college on an upward trajectory during this time of leadership transitions.”