Dean Heading To Haiti On Goodwill Mission
February 22, 2007
Many Maryville students and staff will spend Spring Break helping those in need in the southeastern United States. Charles Gulas, Ph.D., PT, GCS, dean of Maryville University’s School of Health Professions, is going the extra mile, literally, by traveling to the impoverished Caribbean island of Haiti to provide treatment and education for its citizens.
Gulas will be in Haiti from March 1-11 as part of an effort sponsored by Healing Hands for Haiti International Foundation, Inc., a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to providing rehabilitation, medical care, and service to the people of Haiti. Gulas and other physical therapists will train Haitian therapists, who then can return to their communities and provide a “restorative level” of care. Gulas and his fellow therapists will be based in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.
“There are only a few PTs practicing in Haiti and they are all foreign trained,” Gulas said. “Due to the overwhelming poverty rate, few people have access to health care. Education is emphasized so there will be a sustainable resource in Haiti once we leave.” According to statistics compiled by the Healing Hands foundation, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The unemployment rate is more than 50 percent and 65 percent of Haitians cannot read or write. The majority of the population cannot get safe drinking water, medical care or sufficient food for their families.
Like all Healing Hands volunteers, Gulas, who joined the Maryville faculty in 1999, is using his own resources to pay for the trip. Gulas, who was named School of Health Professions dean in April 2005, views the trip as a way of giving back to a profession that he has found rewarding. “I look forward to having the opportunity to share this learning experience with Haitian students and to experience their culture,” he said.
The Haiti trip is not Gulas’ first foray into overseas education. For several years, he served as director of Maryville’s Summer in Beijing program, which offers students the opportunity to complete six credits of undergraduate study in transcultural health and Chinese language and culture while enjoying an exciting adventure in the ancient city.
Gulas is a past president of the Missouri Physical Therapy Association and is an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association, having presented at numerous APTA seminars and national conventions.
Maryville University, founded in 1872, is a private, coeducational institution offering approximately 50 undergraduate, seven master’s and two doctoral degree programs to 3,300 students. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges in the Midwest, Maryville University prepares its students for successful and meaningful careers by offering programs that integrate liberal arts with professional studies. Among Maryville’s most recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. Approximately 15,000 alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.