APRIL 6, 2020 — Medical sociologist and demographer Jeralynn “Lynne” Sittig Cossman, chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at West Virginia University, has been named founding dean of UTSA’s College for Health, Community and Policy and Mark G. Yudof Endowed Professor. She begins her duties May 11.
“Lynne Cossman is a creative, motivated and effective administrator who has a proven track record of building consensus across areas through collaboration and diplomacy,” said Kimberly Andrews Espy, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “She is uniquely qualified to bring together the diverse disciplines within HCaP and lead the faculty, staff and students in crafting a common identity and implementing a strategic vision to advance the college.
“Further, she is a strong faculty advocate who has demonstrated the ability to recruit and retain high-quality and diverse scholars as well as to develop talent internally, and she has been successful in boosting research productivity and quality among her faculty and students.”
At West Virginia, an R1 research-intensive university, Cossman oversaw curriculum and program development in a department of 1,000 students in criminology, sociology and anthropology. Notably, she spearheaded the design and implementation of the university’s doctoral program in sociology, which enrolled its first cohort of 14 students in 2016 and now has grown to more than 30 Ph.D. students.
—LYNNE COSSMAN, Founding Dean of the College for Health, Community and Policy
She led the expansion of the department’s research infrastructure, including affiliating with multiple health science research centers, to support and provide funding opportunities for all doctoral students. Additionally, she facilitated the separation of a single sociology/anthropology major into two distinct ones, implementing changes to writing, capstone and general education requirements in tandem, and also facilitated the creation of a new online criminology major, which boasted an initial enrollment of 85 students in 2018–2019.
Cossman’s own research focuses on community health and health professionals. She has been funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services, among others. She is the author of approximately 70 peer-reviewed publications and has published in several sociology and interdisciplinary journals, including the American Journal of Public Health, Social Problems, Health and Place, Population Research and Policy Review, Sociological Inquiry and The Journal of Rural Health.
Her current research focuses on spatial concentrations of mortality and morbidity, the opioid epidemic and the Mountains of Hope cancer coalition in West Virginia.
Cossman says she is excited by HCaP’s charge to advance human health from a transdisciplinary perspective to better facilitate student preparation and address health disparities.
“By being a College for Health, Community and Policy, there is a real call to action for us to engage in research, outreach and other activity that supports the people of San Antonio and Texas and that makes a difference in our community. That mission really reflects my professional and personal values of doing work that matters,” said Cossman. “I look forward to working with HCaP faculty and staff to build a strong, student-centered culture for the college that interweaves our distinct disciplines.”
Prior to joining WVU, Cossman worked from 2001 to 2014 at Mississippi State University, where she earned tenure and later promotion to full professor. She served in several administrative roles, including head of the Department of Sociology, graduate program coordinator and director of the women/gender studies program.
Additionally, she was the founding director of the Mississippi Center for Health Workforce (2008–2012), which was established in response to the state’s shortage of highly trained health care professionals. She led strategic planning efforts there to seek funding to increase research in the areas of health care workforce demand, recruitment and retention.
Cossman previously held academic appointments at the University of Central Arkansas, Miami University and Florida State University. She earned a B.S. in sociology and women’s studies, an M.S. in sociology and a Ph.D. in sociology and demography—all from Florida State University.
UTSA’s College for Health, Community and Policy is dedicated to the advancement of public policy and practice that contributes to the public good within diverse local and global communities through nationally recognized research, educational programs focused on engaged learning and collaborative partnerships. The college comprises eight academic departments—criminology and criminal justice, demography, public administration, social work, psychology, sociology, kinesiology and public health—as well as the Institute for Demographic and Socioeconomic Research, the Policy Studies Center, and the Health and Kinesiology Research Laboratories. HCaP includes more than 175 faculty and more than 6,800 students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees.
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