Barking up the right tree with a leading therapy-dog program


Michele Whitehead with therapy dog

Michele Whitehead has gone to the dogs, and they’ve fetched her national honors.

Two years ago, she started the highly successful therapy dogs program at UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth.

This spring, Whitehead, who’s the Lewis Library Clinical and Research Services Coordinator, and a colleague will tell a national audience how it’s done. She and Web Services Librarian Brandy Klug will present a paper at the
Medical Library Association‘s annual meeting.

“Paws at Lewis Library” brings certified therapy dogs to campus twice a year to help everyone de-stress and to acclimate future health professionals to service animals. Thousands of hands have petted the canines, whose specialties include such diverse fields as helping children learn to read and soothing combat vets’ post-traumatic stress disorder. And last year, under Whitehead’s guidance, a speaker series was added to the event.
Michele Whitehead with Therapy Dog 2
The Lewis Library
is open to the public, as are the therapy dog events. The dogs’ next visit is Friday, May 1.

For her leadership in the therapy dogs program and other initiatives, Whitehead is the 2014-2015 “Emerging Leader” chosen by the South Central Academic Medical Libraries Consortium/National Network of Libraries of Medicine.

The award pairs librarians with a mentor who is an academic health sciences library director. As part of this mentoring, Whitehead recently visited Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and Tulane University. She exchanged knowledge with university leaders on how best to meet higher education’s information needs in a changing digital world.

In recommending Whitehead as an Emerging Leader, Lewis Library Director Daniel Burgard noted, among several accomplishments, that her leadership garnered outstanding reviews from the visiting team that granted initial accreditation to the new UNT System College of Pharmacy.

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