Pomona Unified School District Superintendent Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, PhD, has joined the Western University of Health Sciences Board of Trustees, strengthening the ties between the two educational institutions.

The Board of Trustees approved her appointment on March 8, 2008. She replaces Dr. Wes Boudette, who died in May 2007. The 14-member board meets four times per year: March, May, August and December.

“I’m really honored,” Meléndez de Santa Ana said. “This is an opportunity to look for connections between K-12 systems and the incredible work happening at Western University. We’re looking for ways in which we could think out of the box for our students.”

In her 25-year career in education, Meléndez de Santa Ana has served as a bilingual classroom teacher, middle school assistant principal for curriculum and instruction, and elementary-school principal, all in the Montebello Unified School District. She also served as director of instruction for elementary and middle schools in the Pasadena Unified School District.

She served more than five years as Deputy Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer at PUSD, then worked as Program Manager for the Stupski Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on district-level reform. She returned to PUSD to serve as superintendent in July 2006.

“With her education and experience, Dr. Meléndez de Santa Ana offers a view of education at a root level, where the educational beginnings of our applicants for admission actually begin,” WesternU Board Chairman Warren Lawless said.

Meléndez de Santa Ana has energetically solved problems while earning widespread support from all of the stakeholders as a result of her leadership, he said.

PUSD, Cal Poly Pomona and WesternU are collaborating on a new program to put young students on a path toward entering the health professions. WesternU wants to encourage students to think about the medical profession at an early age, said WesternU Board Secretary John Forbing.

“I think she will be a real asset in helping us continue to help children on the road to a medical education,” Forbing said. “I think with her administrative background she’ll be an asset on the board for setting policy, because she understands the education system.”

WesternU will open four new colleges by 2009, and each must stand on its own without taking support away from existing colleges, Forbing said.

“I would think with her background of budgeting, the way California handles school districts, she’s going to understand allocation of funding very well,” he said.

About Western University of Health Sciences

Western University of Health Sciences (www.westernu.edu), located in Pomona, Calif., is an independent nonprofit health professions university, conferring degrees in health sciences, nursing, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant studies and veterinary medicine. In 2009, the university will admit students to new degree programs in dentistry, optometry, podiatry and biomedical sciences.