At the start of this new year, I have had the opportunity to reflect on our 37-year history as a health sciences university, and the great potential we have to redefine the future of health care delivery. WesternU started out with a small group of visionaries, closely connected by a mission to provide a high-quality, patient-centered osteopathic medical education program. This small group included administrators, leaders in the osteopathic practice community, leaders in the health care delivery systems, a pioneering faculty, and most important, a similarly committed initial student body willing to stake their futures with an upstart College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. From that nucleus, we have grown to our current stature as an academic health center consisting of nine colleges, 22 distinct academic programs, more than 350 faculty, 1,100-employees, and nearly 4,000 students in two locations – Pomona and Lebanon, Oregon.
While the history of our success is impressive, and demonstrates what can be accomplished by a small, dedicated team of pioneers united by their vision for this institution, the massive challenges and changes anticipated in the health care delivery system in the U.S. over the next few decades will require that same brand of dedicated, visionary teamwork to advance this institution to even greater prominence on the national scene, as a leader in redefining the provision and preparation of future health professionals for a changed health delivery system.
To achieve this prominence, WesternU will still require the involvement and commitment of a wide range of individuals adding their voices and experiences to helping the institution advance – students, faculty, administrators, health organization leaders, practice community leaders, political leaders, and alumni. Given our size and the seriousness of our mission, these voices and perspectives must be effectively organized around that vision, so that all of our efforts are effectively coordinated. This organization of voices is the core of a system of effective shared governance.
The Board of Trustees of the University is composed of business leaders, practice community leaders, academicians, alumni representatives, and other individuals with key skills needed to advance the organization. For years, both the leaders of the Academic Senate and of the Student Government Association have been invited to participate in Board meetings, to give reports on their activities and goals, and to provide input from their constituents on decisions facing the Board.
I am pleased with the efforts of the faculty and Academic Senate over the past several months in developing committees and procedures for obtaining and organizing the voice of the faculty in matters of serious importance to the institution, and in ensuring the quality of all the academic programs of the University. I am also pleased with the efforts of the academic administration in guiding and assisting the faculty in assuming these critical functions – assuring the quality of the faculty and the curricula of university academic programs, as well as the adequacy of preparation of our graduates for their future roles, and of the support systems for our academic programs. These efforts will further our University’s mission by providing data-driven evidence to support the accountability of our academic efforts to the Board of Trustees through the Provost, and from there to both the entire academic community and the various stakeholders in our educational efforts (future employers, professional and regional accreditors, governmental agencies, patients, political leaders, donors, etc.).
I welcome this improved organization of the faculty, and look forward to a more vigorous dialogue between faculty, students, university administration, and the members of the Board of Trustees in mutually propelling the University to even higher levels of excellence.
My best to you all,