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By Glenda Graves | Portrait photo by Keith Branch

Kate Mamiseishvili

Leading with Care

Kate Mamiseishvili’s life experience is probably quite different than that of the students she represents as dean of the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas, but that experience leads her to work even harder to provide national prominence through local impact.


Kate was born in the country of Georgia, which at the time was part of the Soviet Union. When she was in high school, the independence movement began, and in 1991, Georgia seceded from the Soviet Union. With independence came all the pains of building a country from the ground up. Kate had dreams of becoming a doctor but said, “With the uncertainty and rebuilding of infrastructure and our way of life, I didn’t get to leave my hometown and go to medical school. Learning English at that time was the way to understand Western democracy and have access to that, so I got a degree in teaching English as a second language.”


Kate said that time in Georgia was a very difficult transition period. “There was a lot of hardship and poverty,” she said. “People got through it by depending upon one another. Communities truly rallied for one another. I learned so much from all of this, but more than anything, I learned resilience.”


From this period also came the relationship between Kate’s hometown in Georgia and the city of Columbia, Missouri, in the United States. “My hometown became the sister city to Columbia,” she said. That began in the early ‘90s. The organization A Call to Serve International created this relationship.”

Dr. Trish Blair, who started A Call to Serve International, became a very integral piece of Kate’s future. Each year, the University of Missouri would accept one student for an exchange program. In 2001, Kate was the chosen student to attend graduate school, and it was Blair who helped her with the transition.


One thing Kate remembers vividly from the initial transition is the notion of a “college town.”


“I was just amazed by the concept of students having everything they needed right there on campus,” she said. “The whole full-campus experience was completely foreign to me and not something I knew to exist in Georgia. Having a campus take care of social involvement with sports events and organizations was so exciting to me. I didn’t have a reference for that, but I immediately felt this was how higher education should be, providing an identity beyond academics.”


While taking a class focused on the history of higher education her first semester, Kate realized she truly had a passion for learning more about education. She decided to pursue her graduate degree in educational leadership and policy. After completing that, she went on to earn a doctorate in the same focus area. “I lived in Columbia for seven years,” she said. “I loved it. I kept telling my parents, ‘Just another year, and I’ll come home,’ but one more year turned into seven. And then I applied for jobs after completing my Ph.D. A job at the University of Arkansas was one of the most appealing to me, so when it was offered to me, I was excited to take it.”

Dean Kate Mamiseishvili with husband, John, and stepson, Jack.jpg

Dean Kate Mamiseishvili cheers on the Hogs with her husband, John, and stepson, Jack

Her career at the U of A began in 2008 as an assistant professor of higher education. In 2013, she became a department head. “No one becomes a faculty member to become a dean, but after becoming a department head, I realized I really enjoyed the administration part of the job,” she said.


Kate was on the fast track through the faculty ranks and became an associate dean in 2017. After four years in that position, she was named interim vice provost for academic affairs, then interim dean for the College of Education and Health Professions. On Feb. 1, 2023, she assumed her current position as dean of the College of Education and Health Professions.


For Kate, leading the college that focuses on improving health care and education fits perfectly with her belief in the important role of health and education in community and economic development. As dean, she leads a community of 6,000 students, emphasizing a commitment to care and impactful research. Kate envisions the future of her college as one marked by increased visibility, transformative learning opportunities for students and a broader outreach across the state. “I connect with the ethos and identity of this college,” she said, reflecting on the experience of her home country. “If people don’t have access to quality health care or education, a community cannot thrive.”

Kate said she absolutely loves her job. “Even on the hard days, I am positively charged and looking forward to the next day,” she said. “The people that I get to work with and the people I get to meet… I truly thrive on that energy. I feel like we are creating environments that are barrier free for doing the work that needs to be done.”


During her time as interim dean, she was able to assess what the needs were for the college, so when she assumed the role as dean, she hit the ground running. In her first year, she launched the WE CARE strategic plan, which helps the college produce impactful research to improve lives, increase transformative learning opportunities for students and engage in meaningful partnerships across the state. WE CARE stands for Wellness and Education Commitment to Arkansas Excellence and embodies the values of a caring college.

Another venture she has taken on is WE CARE-A-VAN, which tours across Arkansas to speak with alumni and potential students as well as connect with communities. So far, visits have included Morrilton, Jacksonville, Little Rock and Pine Bluff, with many more visits across the state planned. This initiative will give Kate the ability to visit with schools, clinics, alumni and other stakeholders to better understand how to provide the best services possible for Arkansas.

Although her career is a huge part of her life, she does enjoy time outside of work with her husband, John, and her stepson, Jack. She and John were married on Aug. 19, 2017. “Aug. 19, 2001, was when I first came to America,” Kate said. “I feel it was a life-changing day for me. So, I was determined that I would get married on that same day. But if you think about it, it wasn’t ideal for someone in education! It’s one of the busiest times of the year.”


She said, laughing, “I had a big event I had to attend for the college the night before my wedding. And we never took a real honeymoon. But the date will always be so special to me.”


Kate visits Georgia to see her family every summer, and she and her family of three have made it a tradition to travel to Maui, Hawaii, each year for Christmas. “John and I love the sunshine and the beach, so we really enjoy that time in Maui,” Kate said. “When I am home, I also love going on walks and taking advantage of all the beauty Arkansas has to offer. Although that doesn’t sound like a very exciting hobby, it really helps me clear my mind.”


Looking to the future, Kate envisions expanding the college’s reach beyond Northwest Arkansas, fostering relationships across the state and promoting transformative learning experiences for students. With a relentless drive and a heart for service, Kate continues to lead with care, leaving an indelible mark on the University of Arkansas and beyond.

Dean Kate Mamiseishvili with Big Red, WE CARE-A-VAN.jpg

The College of Education and Health Professions embarked on its inaugural WE CARE-A-VAN tour across Arkansas on Sept. 28, 2023; Dean Kate Mamiseishvili paused for a quick photo with Big Red before the travel team departed


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