Current Status: Alumni
Graduation Year: 1976
Dennis Shelby (BA ‘76) came to then-Pacific Christian College, knowing that he wanted to work in the “helping professions.” With the guidance of Professors Bungard, Tiffin, and Pavelski, he focused on the goal of pursuing a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree.
That goal became painfully real during his senior year, when Shelby was severely burned. His shared experiences with burned and physically disabled patients in the hospital led him to focus on social work in the medical field. He earned his MSW and then, while working as a clinician, discovered an aptitude for leadership. He has held a number of administrative positions in psychiatric and acute rehabilitation facilities, including the CEO position at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, and he currently serves as the CEO of Wilson Medical Center in Neodesha, Kansas, focusing on the challenges in the field of rural health care.
“I know that God has placed me in rural health care for a reason,” said Shelby. “Seeing the rural California hospital, where I was born, close down several years ago has made me passionate about doing all I can to assure quality health care. My ministry calling is to serve in rural America and advocate for access to quality health care locally.”
Shelby said that HIU prepared him well academically, with faculty who set and maintained high standards, and who helped him internalize the truth that health care is ministry. The servant leadership model that he saw in the classroom and in practice helped shape his own leadership skills, and he finds his greatest rewards in growing and developing people, helping staff and colleagues perform at optimal levels. He said that he regularly encourages students to pursue an HIU education.
Shelby has been married to his wife, Judy, for more than four decades. They are parents to Alison (BA ‘03) and Lindsay, and grandparents to Reese, Parker and Merrick.
"Because of Hope's small environment, professors are able to focus their attention on a closer relationship with students, thus fostering a more effective learning atmosphere"