It wasn’t long ago that Benjamin Cohen was looking forward to retiring

from the working world to enjoy his hobbies of writing and painting. But

he will have to wait just a bit longer to pen that award-winning novel or

create a masterpiece in oil.

Cohen, a retired osteopathic physician, was recently appointed interim

dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific at Western

University of Health Sciences in Pomona. Cohen replaces Craig J. Lenz who

left in June.

Cohen officially retired in August 2002 from the University of North

Texas, Health Science Center, yet that time off was cut short when he was

asked to serve as the interim chief executive officer and dean of the

College of Osteopathic Medicine at Touro University in Vallejo, Calif. And

once that assignment was over, he was called to duty at Western University

in July.

“”When I retired, I told my colleagues that if they needed consultation, I

would be willing to help,”” Cohen says. “”They came to me and said, ‘We know

you’re a consultant, but we need you full-time. Can you help us?’ I have

experience and I’m happy to help.””

Cohen says serving as an interim dean wasn’t exactly how he was planning

to spend his retirement but makes no grudges about having to postpone

it. “”Someday, I’ll write the great American novel,”” he says, adding that

he likes to write fiction and has his own art studio at home.

Long a critical care pediatrician, Cohen says his profession often was

stimulating, challenging and interesting.

Now, as a consultant, he says, “”Medical education became just as exciting.””

Although his amount of time at Western University will be limited as the

search for a new dean continues, Cohen is eager to leave a blueprint for

the future.

“”The potential excites me,”” he says. “”I’m working with good people and

together we can build a great health science center, additional buildings,

and promote an innovative curriculum and ways of teaching. Wherever you

look, you can always do things better.””

Among his visions, Cohen would like to see Western University’s College of

Osteopathic Medicine develop centers of excellence. Cohen knows of what he

speaks. It was under Cohen’s watch that an Alzheimer’s and aging institute

as well as an eye institute were developed at University of North Texas,

College of Osteopathic Medicine. During his 10-year tenure, the school

blossomed into a complete health science center, which included a public

health school, a graduate school for bio-medical science, and a physician

assistant program.

Cohen would also like to see Western University follow in the steps of the

Osteopathic School at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New

Jersey, where he was founding dean. There, the school grew to national

prominence and became a leader in medical research and the development of

a significant faculty practice.

“”(Research) is an obligation of the university to increase knowledge and

to provide an atmosphere where ‘Why? Why not? and Can we do it better?’

are asked all the time. We want our students to be thinking along that

line,”” Cohen says. “”It has to be developed so we can have scientists

working alongside physicians.””

Having a faculty practice — a full-service, multi-specialty clinic with

upwards of 60 physicians — would provide care to a larger segment of the

community but also assist students.

“”I want student to have role models,”” Cohen says.

It would seem evident that they already have one in Cohen, who operates

under the motto: “”Leadership is dreaming of the possibilities, laying down

the vision and inspiring the team.””