Dr. Claire Peel leaves HSC with a legacy of innovative leadership
By Jan Jarvis
To some, Dr. Claire Peel is best known for bringing her therapy dog Luke to campus and introducing The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth to the therapeutic benefits of pets.
But to many, she is nationally recognized as a talented researcher and educator. Since joining HSC in 2013 as the Dean of the School of Health Professions, Dr. Peel has proven to be an outstanding leader, who among other things helped with the planning of the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine.
After seven years of holding various position, including Interim Provost and Senior Vice Provost of Academic Affairs and Faculty Affairs, Dr. Peel is leaving HSC on June 1 to pursue a new opportunity. This summer she will move to Georgetown and serve as Executive Director for Assessment and Accreditation at the Austin campus of the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences.
The position is an opportunity to draw on her many years of expertise in accreditation and be closer to family, she said. It will also allow her to get back into physical therapy, a field she has been involved in for more than 40 years.
Dr. Peel has made many contributions to HSC, said Charles Taylor, PharmD, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.
“I’m very appreciative of all that Claire has accomplished on behalf of the Health Science Center over the past several years,” he said. “She will be missed by many, and I wish her much happiness and success in her next chapter.”
Dr. Peel began her career at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research in Houston. After working for several years in neurological rehabilitation, she returned to graduate school for an MS in Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California. She went on to earn a PhD in Exercise Science and Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation from the University of Iowa. Dr. Peel is also a graduate of Harvard University’s Management Development Program.
At HSC, Dr. Peel was instrumental in growing Interprofessional Education and Practice, which focuses on collaboration across professions.
“When I came, the IPE program was just beginning,” she said. “I worked with David Farmer (Director IPE and Assistant Professor Medical Education) and many others to design and implement activities – many of which continue today.”
She also played a role in the development of the Center for Innovative Learning, which emphasizes unique practices to better understand the impact of technology on teaching.
“When I took over the CIL, it was floundering,” she said. “After several leadership changes, I finally found the right leader, and it is now an extremely successful center.”
Dr. Peel also helped bring animal-assisted therapy to campus. Established in 2013, Paws at Lewis Library brings therapy animals to HSC to provide a relaxing experience for students, staff and faculty. Animal assisted therapy (AAT) also helps prepare students and practitioners to encounter and integrate these groups into practice settings.
Among her accomplishments, Dr. Peel said she is most proud of introducing the Lifestyle Health Program. In 2014, she helped develop the certificate program, which is now accepting the first class for a master’s degree.
In addition to her work at HSC, her contributions to physical therapy are recognized across the country. Dr. Peel is a nationally recognized expert in education programs to prevent falls and enhance mobility for older adults.
In 2014, she was elected the Chair of the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), the only accrediting agency for physical therapist and physical therapist assistant programs in the United States.
She said that she will miss the many people she worked with during her time at HSC. Working with faculty and senate was especially rewarding.
“I’ll really miss a lot of folks,” she said.