Dr. D. Antonio “Dean” Cantu will start Feb. 1 as the new dean of the College of Health, Education and Human Sciences at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. The search for the new head administrator began in June. His annual salary at UAFS will be $178,000.
Dr. Carolyn Mosley retired as dean of the College of Health Science in May 2019. At the time, Dr. Ron Darbeaug, dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and the School of Education was named interim dean of the College of Health Science as well. Darbeau was appointed provost at Lock Haven University and left UAFS in June 2020. Lyn Korvick has served as interim dean of the College of Health, Education and Human Sciences since that time.
The university announced a major realignment of the organizational structure in April. The realignment, which began July 1 will result in $1.69 million in annual savings or new revenue, said Dr. Terisa Riley, UAFS chancellor. That realignment included moving to a three college academic model including the College of Health, Education, and Human Sciences; the College of Business and Industry and the College of Arts and Sciences.
“I am very pleased Dr. Cantu has chosen to come to UAFS as the inaugural dean of the College of Health, Education and Human Sciences,” said UAFS Provost Dr. Georgia Hale. “His broad experience includes leading the successful merger of multiple departments, which will be very valuable as he works with departmental leadership, faculty, and staff within this newly formed college.”
In all the areas represented by the college – health sciences, education, human sciences, have a critical need for individuals in the respective professions, Cantu said.
“That makes our charge all the greater to continue to build on the foundation that those respective programs and academic units provide,” he said. “In respect to specific partnerships, one of the things I will do, the first orders of business, will be to get together with my leadership team. … and get to know them and the programs and learn more about the community partnerships that have been formed already and what we can do to continue to support and nurture those.”
By doing so, Cantu said he believes the college will be able to continue to address the need that’s in the community regarding students entering professions seeing a great need.
“I am truly grateful for this opportunity to work together with the extremely dedicated and exceptionally talented faculty and staff in the college in providing our students with an educational experience consistent with the mission of UAFS, which will prepare them to succeed in an ever-changing world,” he said.
Cantu said he most looks forward to working collaboratively with the leadership team, faculty, staff, community partners, and alumni.
“Collaboration is essential to building upon the rich tradition of excellence in each of the college’s unique programs, and in working to provide our students with the best educational experience possible to prepare them for their respective professions that are focused on caring for the physical, mental, social, and educational needs of our communities. Indeed, the pandemic serves to remind us all of the critical importance of this charge, and just how essential these professions are in our society,” he said.
Cantu is the associate dean and director for the Department of Education, Counseling, and Leadership at Bradley University, a private university in Peoria, Ill. Over his 13 years at Bradley, he oversaw strategic initiatives including the merger of two distinct academic departments into one cohesive unit and the development and implementation of a five-year departmental strategic plan. He also managed unit affairs, governance and management, climate assessment and improvement, and full evaluation and revision of departmental policies, procedures, and practices to best serve the students, faculty, and staff of his division and the university at large. He also works as a research fellow in the Future Institute Research Center.
Previously he was dean and professor of education at Indiana University Kokomo and director of social studies education at Ball State University. Prior to his work in education, Cantu served in the Army as an S2 intelligence officer for the 5/33 Armor Battalion, 194th Armored Brigade at Fort Knox, Ky.
He has a doctorate degree in curriculum and instruction from Southern Illinois University; an education specialist degree in community college teaching, a master’s degree in history and a bachelor’s degree in social science education from Arkansas State University and an associate degree in social science from Highland Community College.