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Sullivan University: Leaders Visit White House, New Conflict Courses Offered

Two of the Sullivan University System's top administrators visited The White House Jan. 13 to be recognized for the university's participation in the Obama Administration's Healthy Campus Challenge.

Sullivan University Chief Executive Officer Dr. Jay Marr and Spencerian College Executive Director Jan Gordon joined administrators and leaders from nearly 60 campuses that also participated in the Healthy Campus Challenge Day at The White House.

No other schools from Kentucky attended the event, which recognized the participating schools and featured a panel discussion of Administration officials and education leaders and remarks from First Lady Michelle Obama, who also posed for a group photo with the educators.

The White House Healthy Campus Challenge was launched in September as an effort to enroll more students and young people in the federal Health Insurance Marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act.

"I was incredibly proud to represent Spencerian College and the Sullivan University System at this White House event," Gordon said. "Everyone who attended was very energized about working to create a healthy atmosphere on their college campuses, so we were able to share many different ideas and ways that schools have used to assist their students in getting healthier and making sure they have health insurance."

Dr. Marr said that as Sullivan University CEO "it was an honor to be invited to the White House for a celebration of the Healthy Campus Challenge, and to represent Sullivan University as one of only two institutions attending from the Commonwealth of Kentucky."

"The Challenge was intended to help students and others learn about and better understand health insurance options available to them," Dr. Marr said. "Knowing good health is paramount to promoting student success in the classroom, the passion to help students was evident by all those institutions in attendance, and it was an honor to stand with them as each institution was recognized during the event."

More than 350 campuses from all 50 states, Washington, D.C.  and Puerto Rico participated in the Challenge, according to a statement posted on The White House website. Less than a 100 completed the full challenge.

"We can't wait to congratulate (the schools) for their hard work during the ongoing open enrollment period, hear creative ideas from these schools, and brainstorm ways for them to work together moving forward," the statement said. "Our hope in holding the Challenge was to institutionalize these enrollment practices on campuses nationwide for future open enrollments."

Sullivan and Spencerian submitted an application to participate in the Challenge and committed to fulfilling a specific set of open enrollment outreach actions that included:

  • Hosting in-person enrollment activities on campus
  • Sending email reminders of approaching enrollment deadlines to students, staff, faculty, alumni and community neighbors
  • Using social media platforms to highlight the open enrollment period

For more information on the White House Healthy Campus Challenge, click here.

In addition to attending official meetings and events, Gordon and Marr were able to experience the very unique experience of being at the The White House, from visiting the East Wing and posing for a group picture with First Lady Michelle Obama to eating lunch in the White House cafeteria and visiting the White House gift shop.

Gordon and Marr happened to be in Washington just days before the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next as President prepares to depart the White House and President-elect Donald J. Trump is getting ready to move in.

"The signs of Friday's inaugural are everywhere. It's very exciting and quite eye-opening, a very unique time to be there," Gordon said. "There are jumbotron screens all along the mall. There is scaffolding and bleachers everywhere. We watched a protest from our hotel. And I've never seen so many porta potties in my life!"

"It was exciting and an honor to go to the White House," Dr. Marr said, "and it's something I can take off my bucket list."

Sullivan now offering communication, cooperation, and conflict management course

Sullivan University's Center for Learning-Northern Kentucky is offering an 11-week course in helping government employees and others deal with the public through communication, cooperation and conflict management.

"Let's face it, dealing with the public is increasingly difficult," said Dr. Vicki Berling, the executive director of the SullivanUniversity Center for Learning-Northern Kentucky. "Time is tight, and stress is high, leaving little opportunity to truly communicate and connect with people. Even the most service-oriented employees can find themselves in conflict with the people they are trying to help. It's a growing problem public organizations must address."

Sullivan's hard-hitting, skills-building class will teach those who regularly deal with the public how to lead through communication, cooperation and conflict management while identifying their personal communication and conflict-management styles. Students will also learn:

  • Basic theories of communication
  • Productive ways to identify conflict before it even occurs
  • How some conflict can be good in team-building
  • Models and best practices for analyzing and managing disputes
  • The role of anger, gender, culture, power and forgiveness in relationships
  • Good listening skills - essential for true communication

Fort Mitchell City Administrator Sharmili Reddy said she would recommend the program, adding the classes "would be beneficial for employees at all levels of an organization whether you are internally focused or externally focused."

"Conflict management is a necessary skill for almost any job at any level and would help organizations function at a higher level," Reddy said. "Local government is a sector that is completely service based and involves predominantly dealing with the general public. This often means we are in situations of conflict where emotions are high and strong. It is one thing to learn from experience and grow but programs like those offered by Sullivan can provide employees with the tools necessary to effectively recognize and manage that conflict."

The 11-week hybrid class will meet primarily online with some onsite class meetings at the Sullivan University Center for Learning-Northern Kentucky on Grandview Drive in Fort Mitchell. Employees who work in federal, state, county and local government offices including police and fire departments can take the course at a special discounted rate of $1,200.

Classes run from March 28 to June 6. For more information about the schedule, please contact the Center for Learning.  "Offering at least some portions of the course online would make it convenient for busy professionals," Reddy said. "We have employees that work very different shifts and having some flexibility to take the course online would make it more enticing."

Upon on successful completion of the course, participants will earn four quarter hours of college credit in Principles of Conflict Management (CMM) 401 from Sullivan University that can be applied toward several academic programs.

For more information visit

Entire first class at Sullivan's physician assistant program passes

Every member of Sullivan University's 2016 Physician Assistant (PA) Program inaugural class have passed the national certification exam.

The graduates have all passed the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), which assesses basic medical and surgical knowledge.

"This good news of our class of 2016 points toward bright futures ahead for graduates of the Sullivan University PA Program," said Steven G. Gaskins, MPAS, PA-C, the program director and director of clinical education for Sullivan's University physician assistant program. "Many of our second year students currently in the clinical phase of their education are receiving offers of employment upon their graduation."

Physician assistants practice medicine on a team in collaboration with physicians and surgeons. They are formally educated to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and provide treatment. Students prepare for a professional role as clinicians with an emphasis in primary care and underserved areas, focusing on preventive healthcare services as well as acute and chronic disease management in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Sullivan's PA program - the only program in Louisville and one of just three PA programs in Kentucky - was launched less than three years ago and is already achieving the success that university administrators led by Chief Operating Officer Tom Davisson originally envisioned.

"The faculty and staff of Sullivan University PA Program are providing our students the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed," Gaskins said. "We are grateful for the support and encouragement Sullivan University Administration has provided from our inception. Particularly vital is the strong relationship between new leadership in the program and mentors in the administration."

Gaskins also thanked the healthcare community for its support of the program.

"We are grateful to healthcare professionals of the region, across the state and beyond who have contributed their considerable expertise, knowledge and experience to educating our students," he said. "From lectures in the classroom to providing clinical experience opportunities in their practices they are an essential ingredient to our student’s success."

According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physician assistants is projected to grow 38 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Increased demand for healthcare services from the growing and aging population and widespread chronic disease, combined with a shortage of physicians, will result in increased demand for healthcare providers, such as physician assistants.

-Staff report

Photo: Jan Gordon, Executive Director of Spencerian College, left, and Dr. Jay Marr, CEO of SullivanUniversity, on the White House Grounds.