In 1992, Middle Tennessee State University named former associate dean of the College of Health and Public Affairs at the University of Central Florida, Dr. Jo Edwards, as the holder of the Adams Chair of Excellence in Health Care Services. While at UCF she developed programs from conception through accreditation in Physical Therapy, Health Services Administration, Radiologic Sciences and Radiation Therapy Technology and others. Post Iraqi invasion of Kuwait she initiated a project to complete the education of the Kuwait allied health work force in Orlando at UCF while Kuwait University was being rebuilt.
She earned her doctorate from the University of Florida in Gainesville, her Masters from the University of Memphis, and her Bachelor of Science from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Dr. Edwards is a Certified Health Education Specialist and a Medical Imaging Specialist.
Under the direction of Dr. Edwards, the Center for Health and Human Services has executed many grant-funded projects and contracts during the past fifteen years focusing on health care workforce development and improving the health of Tennesseans. These contracts have totaled over three million dollars since 1993. In 2003, she was appointed by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to serve as founding executive director of the Tennessee Institute of Public Health (TNIPH). She currently serves as a consultant to TNIPH. As the director of the Center for Health and Human Services, she engages faculty and staff at MTSU to work with the Tennessee Department of Health, Tennessee Hospital Association, volunteer health organizations and other state and federal agencies to improve the health of the citizens of Tennessee.
Dr. Edwards serves on the State Department of Education Advisory Board for Health Science Education and advises students in this area for MTSU. She collaborates with and supports the pre-professional health advisement system, guiding MTSU students into the health professions.
Active professionally, she has served on many state, local, and national committees and boards. Dr. Edwards currently serves on the board of the Tennessee Obesity Task Force (TOT), a state-wide coalition on obesity which is focused on developing a state-wide obesity plan. She is published and is on three national and international editorial review boards for professional journals.
Dr. Edwards' international experience includes consulting in Europe and other countries. She was recruited by the government of Kuwait to develop the college of allied health and nursing and the college of medicine, where she resided for 2 years. She has been funded to work on AIDS and health issues in the squatter settlements in South Africa through a USAID funded project. She teaches undergraduates, introducing them to the health care system, and graduates students introducing them to global health issues.