Western University of Health Sciences and California State University, Los Angeles are partnering to bring greater diversity to the health professions.

Officials from the two universities signed a linkage agreement on Oct. 30, 2008 that will shepherd selected Cal State L.A. students through their undergraduate education and into health professions programs at WesternU.

Cal State L.A. has a diverse student population and many students continue their education at medical school, Caltech and other graduate programs, said James Rosser, PhD, President of Cal State L.A.

The university is dedicated to creating opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups, he said. Linking with WesternU provides another pathway for them to continue their professional studies.

“We’re excited about what this means for our students and society,” Rosser said.

This agreement links some very important resources, said WesternU President Philip Pumerantz, PhD.

“We are forming a significant public-private partnership that has tremendous possibilities,” he said. “Each discipline that we add to it is a very significant component.”

Students will learn about the linkage program as entering freshmen and they will be able to apply to the program at the end of their sophomore year, said Robert Nissen, PhD, Associate Professor of Genetics for Cal State L.A., who advises pre-health students. The program will also provide motivation to the large number of junior transfers on campus to reach for this specific goal. Students enrolled in the program must maintain a specified grade point average and admissions test score.

“A program like this helps foster behaviors,” Nissen said. “It will promote better achievement having this concrete goal.”

Many Cal State L.A. students live in the area and want to remain there, he said.

“The anticipation is they will stay and practice here,” Nissen said.