WellStar College of Health and Human Services dean steps down

Portrait unveiling

If construction of Prillaman Hall is his proudest accomplishment, it was only fitting then that faculty and staff of the WellStar College of Health and Human Services gathered in the building’s Indoor Plaza Friday to fete Dean Richard Sowell, who is stepping down for a full-time faculty position.

“We’re here today to celebrate another change in our college and in someone’s life,” said former Associate Dean David Bennett, who himself retires June 30. “Change is the only thing you can count on, and we want to honor that change.”

Sowell took up the reins of the College of Health and Human Services in August 2001, when the College was spread out amongst seven different buildings, including trailers, and offered only one master’s degree.

Since that time, the College has seen an increase in the number of programs offered, including a doctorate of nursing science, and an explosion in the number of global partnerships and study-abroad opportunities for students.

“I would say that Dr. Sowell is one of the most compassionate and understanding deans I have experienced in my 20-year academic career,” Interim Dean Monica Nandan said. “His leadership will be missed.”

On Aug. 5, 2010, the College moved into its new home, the nearly 200,000-square-foot Prillaman Hall. The new building was named in honor of longtime KSU Foundation trustee Bob Prillaman and his wife, Lil.

“We really wanted this building to be what you wanted it to be,” Sowell said. “I just appreciate having been a part of this and feel privileged to have worked with y’all in making this building a reality.”

Under Sowell’s leadership, the College also became home to the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth, Georgia’s only post-secondary opportunity for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and the Institute for Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality, which offers a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in culinary sustainability and hospitality.

“In thinking about this as my last day as dean, it’s been 13 years,” Sowell said. “Thirteen years is a good amount of time to invest in something. What bothers me the most is how fast it went.”

As part of the celebration, Sowell was presented with an oil portrait of himself, which will hang in the corridor on the first floor of Prillaman Hall. Kennesaw State University Artist-in-Residence Shane McDonald painted the portrait.

“I want to thank y’all for being a major part of my life and giving me the opportunity to look back and feel proud of what we accomplished,” Sowell said.

--Jennifer Hafer

Photo by: David Caselli