In an effort to continue Western University of Health Sciences’

commitment to open communication, Dr. Benjamin L. Cohen, executive vice

president for Academic Affairs and chief operating officer, at the

request of President Pumerantz, invited the campus community to a Town

Hall meeting on Monday, January 29.

The meeting provided insight on the progress that we have made together-

as a community and family-relative to the University’s growth and its

vision for the future.

Since the last Town Hall meeting was held, many University projects have

been completed and have further distinguished WesternU as a united campus

poised for exceptional growth.

The University unveiled the new Campus Esplanade, which replaces the

former corridor with three blocks of curving walkways, plazas, and

plantings that work to further unify the campus structures. The new

design, complete with lush greenery and pristine landscaping, is not only

a capital improvement to the university; it also works to connect the

various buildings and colleges on campus – physically and visually.

A long-term lease was acquired on the Pomona First Federal Building and

the College of Graduate Nursing has relocated to the building. Soon the

building will be identified with a WesternU moniker to introduce its new

occupants. The building will also temporarily house the new deans and

administration for the new colleges.

WesternU was recently granted a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) by the City

of Pomona Planning Commission for the Veterinary Clinical Center. The

Center will provide permanent facilities for classrooms, teaching

laboratories, pet clinical practice and faculty offices that are now

being provided in temporary facilities or those shared with other

colleges on campus. The showpiece of the new building will be the 8,000

square foot Banfield, The Pet Hospital and Wellness Center, a state of

the art veterinary teaching hospital. The Banfield, The Pet Hospital and

Wellness Center will include patient examination rooms, paperless

records, central treatment room bays, imaging facilities (digital

radiology and ultrasound), pharmacy, clinical laboratory, two surgery

suites, isolation facilities and intensive care monitoring capabilities

for pets.

A necropsy space has been designated on the campus. Layout plans and

renderings have been drafted for this addition to the existing Veterinary

Medical Building, which will fulfill accreditation requirements for

autopsy and lab space for the veterinary students.

The University has entered the initial planning phase of program

development for three new colleges; the College of Dental Medicine, the

College of Optometry, and the College of Podiatric Medicine, and will be

applying for accreditation with the respective professional governing

agencies and with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges

(WASC). Bringing on these new professional schools at one time is

unprecedented in higher education.

The College for Dental Medicine will define itself by relating the

importance of oral health to the overall health and wellness of an

individual. Furthermore, it will distinguish itself, by meeting the

needs of economically disadvantaged, underinsured, uninsured and

underserved patient populations (particularly children) who live in Los

Angeles County.

The dean selected for the College of Dental Medicine is Dr. James

Koelbl. He comes to WesternU from West Virginia University (WVU) School

of Dentistry, where he served as dean since 1999. Prior to his deanship

at WVU, Dr. Koelbl held the position of Associate Executive Director at

the American Dental Association in Chicago, Illinois.

The new College of Optometry will be one of the first to integrate Neuro-

Optometry into the curriculum. This area of study primarily focuses on

the importance of treating stroke and physically-impaired individuals

with compromised or altered vision typically stemming from head and neck

injuries and/or misalignments.

Dr. Elizabeth Hoppe was selected as the dean of the College of

Optometry. She holds several notable career accomplishments, which

include being the first woman chosen as editor of the Association of

Schools and Colleges of Optometry’s peer reviewed journal, Optometric

Education, and she is the first woman in optometry to hold the OD, DrPH,

which -to date- is still only held by a small percentage of women.

The College of Podiatric Medicine will also be among WesternU’s new

programs. A significant area of study within this curriculum will give

attention to diabetic foot care and its significance to the diabetic

epidemic endemic to various patient populations.

WesternU has appointed Dr. Lawrence Harkless as the dean for the College

of Podiatric Medicine. Dr. Harkless has chaired the Medical Faculty

Assembly and served as Director of the Podiatric Residency Training

Program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Over the course of his 29-year career, Dr. Harkless has trained roughly

1,000 students and 165 residents, solidifying his status as one of the

profession’s best educators. Harkless also operated his own private

practice, The Alamo Foot Clinic, for 16 years.

Extensive marketing and promotions campaigns will be one of the conduits

WesternU utilizes to disseminate information on the new colleges.

Services of experienced recruiters will also be retained to perform this

very important work. These are essential components of the development

plans for the newly introduced programs as prospective student interest

and recruitment is paramount to the success of the new colleges.

A graduate college for research is also being developed. Dr. Henriksen

will serve as the interim dean for this college. Plans are currently

being compiled for presentation to WASC for approval. Additionally, a

public health program that will offer a master’s degree in Public Health

will be incorporated into existing program offerings. The graduate

degree in public health will further enhance all the health science-based

programs currently offered at the University.

Furthermore, WesternU will also begin to enhance the dynamics of the

health care team to meet the growing need of patients. The university

will revolutionize the way health professionals are taught by focusing on

Integrated/Interprofessional Education. “”The Guiding Light,”” is an

initiative that will include students from all eight colleges with one

facilitator. The group will be given an assignment from an array of

cases that will be based on the chronology of life: from conception to

death. The mission of the curricula is to allow the integrated group of

students to analyze, diagnose and prescribe the course of treatment from

a comprehensive, team-oriented perspective. This initiative will

change/impact the delivery of health care, as well as serve as a “”guiding

light”” for future physicians and health care workers.

As WesternU continues to expand its programs, University development and

funding efforts become even more essential. Dr. Shirley Johnston, dean

for the College of Veterinary Medicine, will serve as co-chair for the

Capital Campaign, which will be a multi-year initiative by the

University. The Board of Trustees and the president have committed to

major bonds for the various components of the University’s Strategic Plan.

Additionally, to ensure continued success, the University will remain

committed to attracting and retaining the best scientists and clinical

instructors available for its existing and new colleges. As faculty and

administration personnel are recruited and retained, staff hiring must

also increase to provide sufficient support for these faculties and

administrators. Staff members are the backbone of the University and are

crucial to the achievement of its Strategic Plan.

These bold and forward thinking initiatives and plans, as well as the

University’s recent accomplishments all exist along with some already

impressive achievements made by existing programs at WesternU. Dr. Cohen

reminded the attendees at the town hall meeting that these include:

The College of Pharmacy’s 100%, first-time exam pass rate and the

program’s innovative curriculum;

The College of Graduate Nursing’s development of a doctor of nursing

program, which will ultimately fulfill a need for better informed,

qualified nursing educators;

The College of Veterinary Medicine remains unique among other veterinary

programs for its problem based learning curriculum and community-based


The College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP) increasing the

number of residency opportunity for students;

And the College of Allied Health Profession’s Department of Physical

Therapy program is growing strong; the college’s commitment to further

enhancing the Masters of Health Sciences program; and lastly the

Physician Assistants program is unsurpassed in the nation.

The WesternU Town Hall provided a wealth of information on the progress

the University continues to make, as well as insight on the direction in

which it is headed. We invite you to be a part of our future, and we

hope to see you at the next Town Hall meeting.