Philip Pumerantz, PhD
Philip Pumerantz, PhD, founding president of Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU), is believed to be the longest-serving health-sciences university founding president in the country.
Now in its 34th year, WesternU would not exist without Dr. Pumerantz’s determination, vision, and tenacity. He created a university by developing a modern, state-of-the-art establishment of higher education in the health care professions by overcoming many challenges.
Western University of Health Sciences was established in 1977 as the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP). Its first class of 36 students was enrolled in fall 1978, graduating four years later as Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine.
COMP was restructured into Western University of Health Sciences in 1996, and now is composed of nine colleges:
- College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (founding college)
- College of Allied Health Professions
- College of Pharmacy
- College of Graduate Nursing
- College of Veterinary Medicine
- College of Dental Medicine
- College of Optometry
- College of Podiatry
- Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences
Nearly 3,000 students currently are enrolled, and the May 2010 commencement increased the number of alumni to approximately 8,100 caring and compassionate health sciences professionals who practice across the country and around the world.
WesternU educates its students by instilling in them a philosophy championed by Dr. Pumerantz from the time he conceptualized the university: “The discipline of learning. The art of caring.” He also has created a unique environment that fosters innovation and collaboration.
WesternU was among the first schools in the nation to create what has become a highly regarded Internet-based advanced practice nursing and nurse practitioner program. The College of Pharmacy offers an innovative curriculum that emphasizes academic and experiential learning by operating on a unique block system. The Harris Family Center for Disability and Health Policy (CDHP) works to enhance health professions education and to improve access for people with disabilities to health, health education, and health care services.
The University also is home to Southern California’s first and only College of Veterinary Medicine, which further distinguishes itself by utilizing the problem-based learning curriculum and consistently operating under a reverence-for-life philosophy.
The Western University Medical Center, which receives more than 15,000 patient encounters each year, allows students and faculty to work in a unique atmosphere that fosters collaboration between the different colleges. Medical students, physician assistants, pharmacy students, and graduate nurses from WesternU serve in rotations through the Center, giving them opportunities to work with patients.
WesternU has changed the lives of countless individuals and has done so largely because of the vision and commitment of its founding president. Dr. Pumerantz, not being one to rest on his laurels and remaining continually cognizant of the world’s need for caring and competent health care professionals to serve an ever-growing population, recently steered the University through a new phase of growth.
This expansion, identified by President Pumerantz and supported by the University’s Board of Trustees, included the addition of four new colleges–Dental Medicine, Podiatric Medicine, Optometry and Biomedical Sciences. It also entailed more than $100 million in new construction, including a 180,000-square-foot Health Education Center; a Patient Care Center that is home to WesternU’s Pharmacy, Dental Center, Eye Center, Foot & Ankle Center and Medical Center; the Banfield Veterinary Clinical Center; a Veterinary Pathology Center; and a seven-story, 600-space parking structure.
Just as with the five colleges that preceded these four newest ones, Dr. Pumerantz has outlined ways in which the new colleges will work to distinguish themselves–by the unique services they provide to growing patient populations. The College for Dental Medicine will meet the needs of economically disadvantaged, underinsured, uninsured, and underserved patient populations (particularly children) who live in Los Angeles County. The College of Optometry will be one of the first to integrate Neuro-Optometry into its curriculum, focusing on the importance of treating stroke and physically impaired individuals with compromised altered vision typically stemming from head and neck injuries and/or misalignments. The College of Podiatric Medicine will provide a significant area of study to diabetic foot care and its significance to the diabetic epidemic endemic to various patient populations.
Western University of Health Sciences is becoming what Steven Wartman, MD, PhD, president of the Association of Academic Health Centers (AAHC), calls “one of the most comprehensive academic health science centers in the nation.” Bringing on four founding deans of professional schools at one time is unprecedented in higher education–but it is yet another bold action that is consistent with Dr. Pumerantz’s vision for and leadership of Western University of Health Sciences.
Dr. Pumerantz has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the 1995 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Connecticut, the 1995 Dale Dodson Award for national leadership from the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, and the 2010 Distinguished Educator Award from the Boy Scouts of America. In 2011, Dr. Pumerantz received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations Foundation.
Prior to coming to California in 1977 with his wife, Harriet, and their family, Dr. Pumerantz was a professor of education at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, co-founder of the University of Bridgeport’s College of Continuing Education, and director of education for the American Osteopathic Association.
Dr. Pumerantz co-authored four college textbooks in education and has had numerous articles published in professional journals. He is listed in WHO’S WHO in the East, WHO’S WHO in the West, WHO’S WHO in California, WHO’S WHO in America, the Directory of International Biography, and in Outstanding Educators.