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Wellness manager settling in at WKU

Out of 62 applicants for the job, Wade Pinkard was hired as WKU’s new employee wellness manager earlier this month.

Pinkard, who has a Bachelor of Science in Health, Physical Education and Recreation from the University of North Alabama and a Master of Science in Wellness & Fitness from Middle Tennessee State University, started at WKU on Sept. 6.

Pinkard said health promotion has been his passion for many years.

“This is a new challenge because my experience has always been in a corporate setting,” he said.

Kathryn Steward, assistant director of health education, said WKU began to search for a new wellness manager in the spring. A search committee, which she chaired, narrowed down the applicants throughout June, and then began conducting phone and on-site interviews in late July.

Steward said WKU made the decision to offer the job to Pinkard because he was qualified.

“In his past employment he had multiple types of employees, which in a university we also deal with,” she said. “All of those different types of employees have different needs, and he understood that.”

Steward said it was clear that Pinkard would be passionate about the job.

“He really blew us away in his presentation interview,” she said.“He was very prepared and had done a lot of research on our organization. I was impressed all the way around with the preparation he had done and his overall experience.”

Ann Mead, vice president for Finance and Administration, said because WKU is self-insured for health insurance, the university“controls our own destiny in a lot of ways.”

“Wellness helps control costs and if we control costs we can control premiums,” she said. “And that’s important to both employees and employers.”

Mead said it is a win-win to have a successful wellness program.

Pinkard said his first action as wellness manager will be to design and implement a comprehensive wellness program, which begins by identifying a wellness provider.

As part of the assessment phase of this project, Pinkard sent out an email earlier this week which included an Employee Wellness Interest Survey to help him gather information about the needs and interests of WKU faculty and staff.

Pinkard said WKU’s goal is to begin the new program in the first quarter of 2012.

Steward said she is enthusiastic about the new program.

“I’m looking forward to starting fresh with the new program and getting our employees on board,” she said. “Getting feedback from them will help make this a really good program that people can be proud of.”

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