JANS – Jackson State University Graduate Program Director for the Department of Communicative Disorders Whitney Perkins, Ph.D. was selected as one of 20 professionals recognized for “outstanding merit” from over 90 applicants. As a result, Perkins and her cohort participated in the 2023 Lisa Scott Leadership Academy held at the annual convention of the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders this past April.
During the academy, which took place in Orlando, Florida, professionals from communicative disorders programs across the country gathered to engage in professional development sessions and networking. Some sessions included best practices for faculty and staff retention rates, differentiating being an effective leader versus a boss, conflict management, and more.
“I’ve always considered myself a natural-born leader, but after going through the leadership academy, I can bring those experiences back to Jackson State University. That includes interviewing techniques to assist with faculty and retention as well as thinking about the current trends in our field of speech-language pathology,” said Perkins, who also serves as interim chairperson of the communicative disorders department. “It was a very exciting time for me. I felt this was something that I needed to grow in my new position as the interim chair.”
Associate Provost for Academic Affairs at JSU, Brandi Newkirk-Turner, Ph.D., shared in Perkins’ excitement.
“Acceptance into this prestigious academy is a testament to Dr. Perkins’ leadership and the projected impact that she will have in communication sciences and disorders academic programs. She has established herself as a leader here at JSU, but receiving external recognition for her leadership in academia is extra special,” Newkirk-Turner said.
Perkins has been a proud College of Health Sciences employee at JSU since 2015 and was promoted to interim chairperson in 2022. As chair, Perkins oversees the undergraduate and graduate program and assists the department with maintaining accreditation, among other roles. She explains that her acceptance into the leadership academy promotes the natural theme of lifelong learning in communicative disorders, reminding students and faculty to always strive for the best.
“First, our field is all about continued education and lifelong learning. It’s all about professional development and growing. It’s always good that myself and other faculty are striving for excellence because that’s what we want from our students, and that’s what we expect from them,” said Perkins. “We expect them to show up 100% every day. So we need to be doing the same and trying to better ourselves again, like I said, in the current trends, but also some self-reflection of some of our practices and some of our skills that we need to sharpen.”
She added. “I always tell my team and my students I would never ask you to do anything that I either have not done or won’t do.”