Founding Director of Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies Program Profile


Sacred Heart University (SHU) seeks an inspiring and visionary leader to serve as director of its master’s program in physician assistant studies in Stamford, Connecticut.  SHU is significantly expanding its presence in Stamford and Fairfield County, launching new graduate degree programs and additional courses, moving into new classroom space in the center of the city and increasing its involvement and outreach within the Metro- and Stamford-area region and business communities. Sacred Heart's Stamford Graduate Center will offer students access to the kinds of programs that traditionally have been available at our main campus in Fairfield. The Graduate Center at 3 Landmark Square is located near I-95, the Merritt Parkway and Stamford's transportation enter, downtown restaurants, hotels, shopping and businesses.  Physician Assistant studies program will be the first offering of the College of Health Professions in Stamford and will be located near the Graduate Center on the campus of Stamford Hospital. 

The search committee will begin reviewing applications immediately and will continue until the new director is named. 

The director must be an effective spokesperson and enthusiastic champion of the distinctive characteristics of the program as well as the mission of the University. 

Sacred Heart University at a Glance

Founded in 1963, SHU is a co-educational, independent, comprehensive institution of higher learning rooted in the liberal arts and the Catholic intellectual tradition.  Since its inception, the University has grown from a small commuter campus to a leading regional institution with an international presence.  Today, enrollment reaches over 6,300 students, making SHU the second-largest Catholic university in New England.  SHU was the first Catholic university in America designed to be led and staffed by lay people.  Inspired by the ecumenical spirit of the Second Vatican Council, the University works to prepare its students to live in and make their contributions to the human community.  Recognized among The Princeton Review’s “Best 373 Colleges” and “Best 300 Business Schools,” with a top-tier ranking in U.S. News & World Report for the past seven years, SHU is considered an international leader in Catholic higher education.  

Committed to the principles of personal attention and customized learning for the individual student, Sacred Heart University’s academic programs are designed to develop women and men knowledgeable of self, rooted in faith, educated in mind and compassionate in heart.  The University is comprised of five distinct colleges: the College of Arts & Sciences, the Farrington College of Education, the College of Health Professions, the AACSB-accredited John F. Welch College of Business and University College, the institution’s link to the region’s adult and corporate communities. Together, the schools offer more than 50 degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. The institution’s 4,000 undergraduate and 2,200 graduate students benefit from a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio, an average class size of 22 and a financial aid commitment of more than $30 million annually. In 2007, the University launched its new undergraduate Core Curriculum, which includes SHU’s academic signature, the Common Core: The Human Journey. This rigorous curriculum immerses students in a coherent and integrated understanding of the arts and sciences and the Catholic intellectual tradition and has been recognized by the Association of American Colleges and Universities as a national model of values education. 

Sacred Heart University is committed to instilling in students a love of wisdom and truth and a capacity for critical reflection that will orient them to professional leadership, social and ethical responsibility and service to others.  The SHU philosophy of active and engaged learning assures each student a lively, absorbing, real-world education that challenges, excites and inspires.  This philosophy is particularly relevant to the preparation of physician assistants. 

The Catholic intellectual tradition, characterized by rigorous scholarship, is a 2000-year-old conversation between the Catholic-Christian community and the cultures in which it has lived.  It comprises concepts about human beings, society, nature and God that have been developed in Catholic theology, embedded in Catholic religious and cultural practices and analyzed by Catholic thinkers in all disciplines over many centuries. Academic freedom is a constitutive element of this tradition. The director will cultivate and promote further expansion of global outreach, support faculty and faculty development, actively engage inter-professional pursuit of service learning initiatives and inter-professional education and scholarship, facilitate students and faculty’s compassionate, humane, ethical practice guided by the program’s and University’s mission and philosophy to pursue truth and knowledge, be committed to excellence and diversity and assume a responsibility for the common good of society. 

With a strong and dynamic leadership team and a dedicated faculty and staff, Sacred Heart University continues to build on its momentum and on the positive trajectory of its past.  The University has increased enrollment, selectivity and geographical reach, strengthened its finances and academic offerings and updated its campus.  

The College of Health Professions

The College of Health Professions seeks to foster the development of women and men who demonstrate intellectual and professional integrity, who value compassionate service to others and who take leading roles in the communities in which they serve. The College provides undergraduate and graduate degree programs in athletic training, exercise science, health sciences, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, healthcare informatics. Recently, the College established a doctorate of nursing practice, and a program in speech-language pathology is currently under development. Additionally, the College of Health Professions has expanded its commitment to the health and wellness needs of the city of Bridgeport, the region and internationally through a variety of collaborative health and wellness projects designed to address the unmet health and wellness needs of communities, while promoting the education, service and research goals of the University. The College’s doctorate of physical therapy is ranked number one in the state of Connecticut by U.S. News & World Report

The Opportunities and Challenges

Sacred Heart University seeks in its director a strong leader with an innovative, entrepreneurial spirit, proven management skills and expertise in the strategic advancement of high-quality and growing programs.  A terminal degree, a record of teaching and scholarship in PA education, and  current NCCPA certification are required.  The director must be able to articulate a clear academic vision and strategy for the program and for the University and foster a collegial and collaborative ethos that capitalizes on the richness of the SHU community and encourages a continued commitment to academic excellence. 

Central opportunities and challenges for the founding director of MPAS include the charge to: 

  • Preserve the University’s distinctive mission and lead the development and growth of inter-professional, domestic and global service learning. 
  • Develop and implement the new academic program. The director will develop the academic program proposal for review and approval by the university, the state and the accrediting agency in the context of the College’s and the University’s mission and strategic plan. 
  • Provide collegial and collaborative administrative leadership to the faculty and strengthen the culture of shared governance. The successful candidate will implement programs and policies that nurture faculty development and build on a supportive and unified faculty culture that places a preeminent value on teaching, scholarship and service. The director will vigorously support recruitment and retention of quality faculty, professional development and appropriate resource allocation.  
  • Advance academic and administrative development and partnerships. Faculty and administrative staff are eager to work with the director to promote inter-professional education and collaboration, strengthen programs and evaluate prospects for online, hybrid and continuing education. These initiatives are recognized for their potential to help SHU fulfill its mission of serving diverse populations and because of the opportunities they may present for revenue generation and diversification. 
  • Embrace the integration of the latest pedagogical advances into the learning process, especially simulation, problem-based learning, service-learning, student/faculty research and other high impact practices. Sacred Heart University continues to develop and implement pedagogical techniques to engage students in the learning process. The director will be entrepreneurial, strategic and will encourage innovation in the use of technology in teaching and learning.  
  • Act as an effective spokesperson and excellent communicator and cultivate and maintain positive relationships with the local community and potential clinical partners. Building strong relationships with the surrounding community and expanding the visibility and reputation of the University’s programs, regionally and nationally, are important strategic goals of the institution and critical for developing a high-quality clinical education program. 


Director Leadership

The leadership priorities for the director of the MPAS are varied but include the following: 

Provide Distinguished and Trusted Academic Leadership

The director will hire a faculty and staff who are service-oriented and committed to excellence and look to him or her for leadership, collaboration and support. The new director must engage the entire community in planning for the academic future of the program. Additionally, she/he must maintain a working knowledge of trends and national priorities for physician assistants and other health-related professions so as to anticipate and respond to a rapidly changing health care environment. In doing so, the director must be actively engaged in professional, public and health care delivery communities and serve as an advocate and enthusiastic spokesperson for the MPAS and its academic mission. 

Focus on Students and Campus Diversity

Students in the College of Health Profession’s programs are successful and positive about their professional careers. To carry out its mission more effectively and to prepare its students to serve the global communities of 21st century, efforts to reflect diversity should continue.  Academic freedom and excellence flourish in an environment that encourages the fullest possible diversity of ideas and expression. 

Foster Collegial and Other Relationships

It is expected that the new director will provide a style of leadership that recognizes the central importance of teamwork and collegial relationships within the College and building and nurturing relationships with clinical agencies, business partners and state agencies to strengthen the College’s and University’s reputation. 

Director Attributes

This position provides the opportunity for a leader to contribute to the financial stability of the University through strategic growth, while maintaining the quality and reputation of the College of Health Professions and, at the same time, contribute to health promotion goals and the health care needs of communities in Connecticut.  The ideal candidate will possess the following personal and professional qualifications: 

  • A deep commitment to the Catholic intellectual tradition and a respect and appreciation for academic freedom and a dedication to the promotion of academic priorities in line with the University’s educational mission 
  • A terminal degree, a record of teaching and scholarship in PA education 
  • A deep commitment to the profession of physician assistants and their role in serving the needs of the country, as well as an understanding of any state regulatory oversight and accreditation requirements 
  • A demonstrated track record of working collaboratively, seeking partnerships and enhancing resources 
  • Proven experience in leading strategic and focused growth initiatives 
  • Excellent communication skills, with a confident and comfortable public presence 
  • The ability to excel as a leader in a consultative environment and possession of the skills necessary to negotiate with all groups 
  • A thorough understanding of the goals and values of a Catholic liberal arts education in the 21st Century and how it supports professional preparation 
  • A demonstrated ability to work with diverse constituencies 
  • A managerial style that is personable, consensus building and inclusive; personal qualities that ensure transparency in governance and the highest standards of honesty and integrity; 
  • A personal commitment to the education of a racially and culturally diverse student body 
  • A genuinely collaborative operating style, coupled with a willingness to act decisively when consensus is elusive 
  • Energy, integrity, passion, openness, flexibility and an abiding sense of humor 



Applications must include a complete resume and letter showing the candidate’s experience as related to the requirements of the position. Three references should be included.  Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. 

Please submit applications to Dr. Patricia Walker, Dean, College of Health Professions, Sacred Heart University, 5151 Park Ave., Fairfield, CT 06825-1000 email:



  • Founding Director of Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies Program Profile

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