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
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
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.