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Harrington takes helm of School of Allied Health (10/1/97)

Marilyn S. Harrington, PhD, is the new dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Since 1993, Dr. Harrington was dean of the College of Health Professions at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. The college has educational programs in nursing, dental hygiene, radiologic sciences, respiratory therapy, clinical laboratory sciences, medical records technology, emergency care and rescue, health services administration and health sciences (basic life sciences).

Before joining Weber State, Dr. Harrington was a 20-year faculty member at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. There she received a Certificate in Dental Hygiene in 1968, a Bachelor of Science in the same field in 1969, a Master of Science in dental hygiene education in 1972 and a PhD in educational administration (higher education) in 1985.

Highlights of her Weber State tenure included construction of a second building for the college, development of a multidisciplinary curriculum, initiation of a strategic planning process, design of a major diversity effort and aggressive computer outreach to several Western states. Dr. Harrington was one of three primary developers of a school-based health center at an inner-city elementary school in Ogden. She also developed a consortium for nursing education in northern Utah, and helped plan a statewide nursing and allied health professions council to promote career awareness among students at high schools, area technical centers, community colleges and universities.

Asked about her proudest achievement in Ogden, Dr. Harrington discussed distance learning efforts.

"The area served by the Health Science Center is somewhat like that served by Weber State," she said. "The Western states contain many miles of wide-open territory without educational resources of any kind, and yet there are people living in those areas. So Weber State developed a strong mission in frontier education.

"When I came to the college, we modernized that education. Development of the Internet enabled us to offer entire degree programs over the World Wide Web, and we designed nursing and radiology technology programs that are available online. These virtual offerings include didactic programs, student advising, registration, financial aid and admissions. Of course, the student's clinical work must still be done at an affiliated site."

Dr. Harrington is highly familiar with accreditation requirements, which in the case of distance learning mandate that students in remote locations have the same opportunities as students on campus. "We worked very hard to develop quality distance learning programs that use the Internet and that meet this requirement," she said. Weber State's nursing program is offered as far away as Alaska, and its radiology technology program is available in several states.

Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Harrington in 1992 served as acting executive director of the Richard Cabot Clinic, a community-based primary care clinic serving a predominantly indigent Hispanic population in the Kansas City area. In the 1980s, she authored a successful grant to develop a geriatric oral health fellowship program for practicing dentists and other health professionals. A total of 44 health professionals have completed the program to date.

In 1996, she was appointed by the governor of Utah to the Oversight Committee of the Health Policy Commission, which is evaluating the impact of statewide health care reform efforts and legislation. In 1981, she was named a Fellow in Academic Administration by the American Council on Education.

During her first weeks in San Antonio, Dr. Harrington worked to become more familiar with the region served by the Health Science Center. She and James Van Straten, PhD, her predecessor as dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences, traveled to meet colleagues in McAllen, Harlingen and Corpus Christi. She has had experience with agencies such as Area Health Education Centers (AHECs).

Dr. Harrington also is familiar with the new concepts surrounding managed care.

"At Weber State we developed relationships with hospitals and other major employer partners, and designed educational programs for them," she said. "Since 70 percent of health care in Utah now is offered through managed care mechanisms, some of our offerings were geared to responding to a changing economy and a changing health care industry."

Dr. Harrington is married to Dr. Glenn Harrington, a microbiologist, and the couple have a son, Blake, a high school senior, and daughter, Ashley, 12.

Contact: Will Sansom (210) 567-2570