Wisconsin educator will lead WMU College of Health and Human Services

Contact: Cheryl Roland
Ron Cisler's headshot.


KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Dr. Ron A. Cisler of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has been named the new dean of Western Michigan University's College of Health and Human Services, effective Aug. 1.

Cisler currently serves as interim dean of UWM's College of Health Sciences, and he is a professor of health informatics and administration in that college. He also is an affiliate professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

"We are delighted to have Dr. Cisler join us in this leadership capacity," says WMU Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Susan Stapleton. "He brings with him extensive experience in the areas that reflect this university's strongest commitments—teaching and mentoring, research, service and community engagement. He is a wonderful match for this position."


Cisler's primary research interests are in population health disparities, behavioral health risk factors, and alcoholism and alcohol-related illnesses. He is internationally known for his expertise in assessing recovery outcomes for alcohol treatment clinical trials. In recent years, he has also served at the local, state and national levels as a researcher and widely quoted expert on the topic of improving urban infant mortality rates and reducing health care disparities.

His research has attracted strong federal and foundation support from such entities as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Economic Development, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Wisconsin Partnership Program and pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Lipha and Oy-Contral. In addition, he has served on review panels for a number of federal grant programs, primarily in the National Institutes of Health.

Cisler says he was drawn to the WMU position by the caliber of the college, the research and innovation role it plays as an engine of economic prosperity for the region, and its capacity to impact individuals and the broader community it serves.

"The College of Health and Human Services includes such a broad base of disciplines that it is uniquely situated to provide education and innovation opportunities from several perspectives," Cisler says. "My background has been in interdisciplinary education, research and discovery, bringing together diverse fields such as the health sciences, social services, public health, engineering and medicine. WMU and Kalamazoo are wonderfully positioned as a community to continue those efforts."

The breadth of this set of health and human service disciplines, Cisler says, allows the college the ability to impact health and societal issues across several continua, including:

  • Prevention to intervention to rehabilitation.
  • Human disability, to human ability, to high levels of human performance.
  • Individual, family and community poverty and prosperity.
  • Health and wellness across the lifespan—from birth to end of life.

Cisler earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and master's and doctoral degrees from UWM—all in psychology. In addition, he did post-doctoral work in addiction and behavioral health, also at UWM. He has served in teaching and research positions at UWM since 1984. In addition to his two appointments as a full professor, he also serves as an affiliate professor or senior scientist for a number of other UWM academic and research units.

Cisler has served as an advisor or degree committee member to some four dozen master's, doctoral and post-doctoral students as well as a mentor to young faculty members engaged in research in such areas as psychology, substance abuse, health informatics, health literacy, maternal and infant health, urban studies and public health.

Widely published in his discipline, Cisler has served as associate editor for the Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research and field reviewer for numerous other professional journals targeting both broad health issues and clinical and public health alcohol research. He has co-authored a handbook series on brief assessment measures in health research and practice targeting behavioral disorders including substance use and eating disorders.

Cisler will replace Dr. Earlie Washington, who has announced she will return to the School of Social Work faculty after a year-long administrative leave that will begin Aug. 1. Washington has served as dean of the College of Health and Human Services since 2006. 

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