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WesternU / About WesternU / Past Strategic Plans

Past Strategic Plans

Looking to the Future

Our goal for Western University of Health Sciences should be nothing short of greatness, and we must aim high for our institution to be considered the national treasure that it deserves to be. At WesternU, aiming “too high” is considered a virtue, for it is in the setting of lofty goals and achieving them that great, sometimes unexpected, things can be accomplished. Even if an original target is not attained, simply coming close can yield impressive results.

Yet building tomorrow’s greatness cannot depend upon practices that were honored in the past but are ill-fitted to the work of the present. For example, greatness in teaching and learning can no longer be only about transmitting and acquiring information, as this is easily accomplished today through browsers and a WiFi connection. Rather, greatness in teaching, learning, research, and clinical care can only be realized through fostering creative, bold, and even audacious ideas.

This is why our Strategic Plan must be grounded on new models and new ways of doing things that measurably enhance the quality of our educational programs, as well as everything we do to surround and support those programs. What follows in this document are the foundations for our lofty aim of advancing Western University of Health Sciences by Transforming the Face of Health.

  • Introduction


    In 1977, a small group of founders embraced the idea of creating a college of osteopathic medicine in the western United States, and asked Philip Pumerantz, PhD, to come to California to start the college and serve as founding president. They had a name (the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific—COMP), a President (Dr. Pumerantz) and a vision—a new, high-quality college of osteopathic medicine. Their new president faced an enormous task—he was president of a medical college with no students, no faculty, no buildings, no classrooms, no equipment, and little money.


    Inaugural COMP classOn October 2, 1978—less than 13 months after Dr. Pumerantz and his family arrived from Chicago—classes began for the 36 members of the Charter Class of the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. By the time of their graduation in 1982, COMP was fully accredited.

    Since that humble inception, Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) has grown to include eight health sciences colleges: the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP); the College of Health Sciences; the College of Pharmacy; the College of Graduate Nursing; the College of Veterinary Medicine; the College of Dental Medicine; the College of Optometry; and the College of Podiatric Medicine. We have expanded to two campuses (Pomona, CA and Lebanon, OR) where we enroll more than 3,600 students, and employ more than 1,000 people.


    To Teach, To Heal, Together – more than any other statement, those words define the thrust of WesternU.

    The University is a teaching/learning community, one in which knowledge is applied to an end—the health and well-being of our fellow citizens. President Pumerantz has assembled an outstanding group of academic leaders and faculty to carry the work of the university forward. He noted: “The value of the University degree 20 years from now is based on the University’s reputation in 20 years’ time.” WesternU alumni, wherever they serve—in private practice, in academic institutions, in the military, in major medical centers, in public health facilities—are known for the high standards to which the University is dedicated. Because of the excellence of our graduates, WesternU will continue to be known and respected as one of this nation’s leading universities dedicated to the teaching of the health sciences.

  • WesternU’s Overarching Commitments

    Vision and Mission

    Western University of Health Sciences is Transforming the Face of Health. We envision healthy people and a healthy society.

    Our mission is to produce, in a humanistic tradition, health care professionals and biomedical knowledge that will enhance and extend the quality of life in our communities.

    University mosaic seal and Esplanade fountain

    Guiding Values

    Our guiding values include:

    • Embodying humanism through caring, respect, empathy and trust.
    • Creating a pioneering culture of bold innovation, courage and passion.
    • Displaying a collaborative mindset in how we operate, how we educate, and how we deliver health care.
    • Achieving excellence in all that we do.

    Strategic Pillars

    The five strategic pillars that guided our goals development process are:

    Interprofessionalism. Becoming interprofessional and collaborative in all missions and at all levels of the University.

    80/20 revenue goals. Grow new and existing sources of revenue so that at least 20% of WesternU revenue comes from non-tuition sources.

    The “WesternU Way”. Build on what has already been accomplished and further the “WesternU Way” by internalizing the “WesternU Gene” in all missions, at all levels, and in all members of the University community.

    Partnerships. Establish creative partnerships in education, health care, research, and community missions.

    Science, Caring, Humanism. Embody the WesternU values of Science, Caring, and Humanism in innovative and distinctive ways.

  • Strategic Planning 2005 -2011

    The first University-level strategic plan for WesternU was created in 2005, with many ambitious goals set to be achieved by 2015. Much of the plan had already been completed by June of 2011 (major achievements listed below). At the end of 2011, President Pumerantz and former Provost Ben Cohen determined that a new plan should be created for the University that built on what had already been accomplished and refreshed our plans for the next five years, in light of past achievements and current conditions.

    WesternU PCCMajor Accomplishments between 2005 and 2011:

    • Began four new colleges
    • Far surpassed goal of 2,650 students (now at over 3,600)
    • Exceeded goal of 250 faculty
    • Added more than 371,000 square feet of facility space
    • Expanded student services space, study space, conference space, auditoria, and clinical space
    • Inaugurated the Interprofessional Education (IPE) program required for all students
    • Built and opened the Patient Care Center and the Western Diabetes Institute
    • Established COMP-Northwest in Lebanon, Oregon, in direct response to community needs and invitation

    Strategic Planning Task Force Convened


    In December 2011, at the request of the President and Provost, Vice Provost Sheree J. Aston convened a Strategic Planning task force made up of 23 individuals representing the various constituent groups of the University community: faculty, staff, students, alumni/ae, and administration. The Task Force included working groups for the major areas of: Environmental Scan, Strategic Goals, Implementation Tactics, Budget, Communication and Marketing, and Monitoring and Evaluation Systems. A Steering Committee, made up of the chairpersons for each working group, was formed as well.

    Lecture in HEC Lecture HallThe Strategic Planning Process

    The strategic plan goals and objectives were created as a result of a process that included several information-gathering steps, including surveys, meetings, discussions, and general brainstorming. Major steps (the resulting information gathered from these steps is described in later sections of this document) included:

    University faculty, staff, students, alumni/ae, and select members of the external community were asked to participate in an Ideas Survey, asking what their “big, bold ideas” were for the University. Responses were collected into a summary report.

    The Environmental Scan working group conducted research into trending factors that affect health care and health sciences education today, while an internal scan was conducted through surveying faculty and staff members about the University’s strengths, challenges, opportunities, and perceived threats.

    Broad Strategic Direction Sessions were held with the University executive team and the Task Force to discuss directions the University might take.

    Strategic Planning Retreat was held with nearly 50 individuals present and participating in general and small group discussion. Small groups addressed nine strategic questions and the major themes from these sessions were synthesized into a summary document.

    Seven Goal Areas emerged, and brainstorming meetings were held with stakeholders for each area to discuss possible goals and objectives for Education, Health Care, Research, Interprofessional Education, Financial, Internal Fitness, and Community Service. Strategic Pillars were created to guide goal development.

    Resulting goals and objectives were reviewed over the course of seven meetings by the Strategic Goals working group, and were compiled into a draft document. These were then reviewed and prioritized by the Executive Team (including current Provost Gary Gugelchuk), the Oversight Committee, and other University leaders. The Monitoring and Evaluation working group researched technology systems and reviewed their capabilities and appropriate level of functionality.

    At the Provost’s request, the Deans of each college conducted their own SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analyses and invited the Deans and Operations heads to submit Collaborative Proposals to address the proposed strategic goals and objectives via a process developed by the Tactics working group. Submitted proposals were reviewed by the Provost’s office and those given a preliminary “green light” to move forward as part of the strategic plan were identified so that the Budget working group could begin to estimate a necessary investment pool. The major areas addressed by these included: Research, Clinical Services, Academic Programs, and Interprofessional Education.

    The draft Goals and Objectives were further distilled and prioritized, resulting in this document, which is Part I of what will be a two-part Strategic Plan. Part II will consist of a detailed Implementation Plan with actionable tactics and measures for each objective. Over the course of 2013, we will conduct numerous tactical planning sessions to address each goal area, culminating in a full Implementation Plan leadership retreat. Part II of the Strategic Plan will then be approved by the University Board of Trustees and cascaded throughout the University.

    WesternU Lebanon campus

  • Achieving the Plan

    WesternU: Transforming the Face of Health

    The basic structure of health professions education has not changed in 100 years. It is still typically separated into silos by discipline and delivered by the “sage on the stage” using time-worn pedagogical models. Meanwhile, the health care industry has advanced technologically yet population health has not kept pace. We may be living longer in the United States, but our final years are often marked by chronic, painful, resource-intensive conditions. Health care practice has generally been provider- or discipline-centered and delivered at high cost with outcomes that often fall below what is possible.

    WesternU can lead the charge to turn this around.

    We recognize the challenges health professions education faces and are committed to developing a comprehensive vision to implement a new paradigm. Policy specifics may evolve, but the future will doubtless include progressive changes in health care. Moving swiftly in the direction of a changing horizon is nothing new for WesternU. Over the last several years, our institution has recurrently demonstrated its “bold and audacious” nature. We have built an institution through the “WesternU Way” of innovation that now holds the strengths of two campuses, eight colleges, an established interprofessional education program, a patient care center, a diabetes center, and a strong culture of caring, humanism and evidence-based health care research. We have stood on the cornerstones of Science, Humanism, and Caring, and have proven that we can achieve what we dream.

    Over the next five years, we will exemplify the traits we have become known for in even bolder ways by turning our eyes toward transforming the landscape of health care and health sciences education and research. Through implementing our strategic plan, WesternU will be positioned to “Change the Face of Health” by transforming the way health professionals are educated and the way health care is practiced. We can lead the way in conducting translational research that clearly demonstrates the most effective protocols through enhanced patient outcomes. We can embody innovation in our pedagogies, research, and clinical settings in such a way that WesternU attracts “the best of the best” in terms of faculty members, students, and philanthropic supporters, subsequently providing a stellar workforce to meet growing needs.

    Strategies to Achieve the Plan

    We began this phase of our strategic planning process with seven goals and thirty-one objectives. Over the course of the last year, more than 100 individuals from across the University, organized in seven working groups, developed plans to achieve those goals and objectives (See Appendix I: Representative Action Plans for Strategic Goals and Objectives).

    In the resulting influx of forward-thinking creativity and innovation, three major strategies to achieve the plan have emerged:

    • Educate health professionals for 2025 and beyond
    • Deliver patient-centered, evidence- and population-based collaborative care
    • Conduct translational research that advances care delivery and community health

    Students examining a patientEDUCATE HEALTH PROFESSIONALS FOR 2025 AND BEYOND

    • Prepare our students to understand and apply the skills that will be necessary for future health care delivery through evidence-based interprofessional education (IPE) and other unique resources and programs, through such strategies as:
      • Augmenting the IPE department as needed to fully build out a four-phased IPE program with established outcomes that are rigorously measured and evaluated
      • Developing and deploying a competency-based, active-learning IPE curriculum mapped across all colleges and programs
      • Creating a fiscally-sound process for faculty to hold joint appointments in the academic department of IPE
      • Establishing collaborative processes among WesternU simulation centers and activities
      • Establishing dual-degree programs through the professional and biomedical sciences colleges
      • Conducting professional development programs, continuing education courses, and other development modalities or events that focus on interprofessional education and practice
    • Create efficiencies through student centered, state-of-the-art, innovative educational models that reduce the time to master current knowledge and skills in order to create space in the overburdened curricula for new and emerging knowledge and skill sets, through such steps as:
      • Designing and testing competency-based educational models (according to profession-defined competencies)
      • Providing common University core curricula (shared anatomy, basic sciences and clinically-based relevant topics with modular online components)
      • Utilizing advanced simulation strategies and technologies inside and outside of the classroom (on-campus and on-line virtual courses for skills development)
      • Using innovative virtual and live learning experiences to train students to provide patient-centered collaborative care
      • Encouraging and incentivizing the collaboration of skilled faculty members and staff across disciplines in such course and technologies development
    • Expand the market for our educational capacities into robust and in-demand continuing education programs (primarily non-degree and non-certificate programs) that consist of learner-centered, active-learning and engaged experiences including:
      • Distance Learning Initiatives
      • Professional Development Courses
      • Post-Doctoral  Advanced Training Programs
      • International Certificate Programs
    • Continue the WesternU tradition of reaching out to a diverse community for education and service.
      • Expose WesternU students to community-based service in a variety of cultural and socio-economic contexts through existing and expanded programs
      • Support the recruitment of a diverse faculty, staff and student body through enhanced pipeline activities
    • Establish an Educational Technology Innovation Center to support WesternU’s advancement into existing, emerging, and horizon technologies that are changing education and student expectations through such strategies as:
      • Supporting the internal creation and implementation of virtual, online, and mobile courses both for internal use and external commercialization
      • Building a centralized digital asset library to share existing educational resources and reduce future investment in copyrighted materials
      • Exploring external partnerships that will help WesternU develop technology-enhanced learning models and systems that prepare students with real-life skill sets for the health care future they will enter and offer opportunities for revenue generation
      • Investigating the creation of a surgical anatomy lab that incorporates innovative embalming techniques so that WesternU can provide hands-on, industry-leading surgical education
      • Increasing the use of high-impact simulation facilities that include high- and low-fidelity technology, virtual/gaming technologies, telemedicine, and collaborative simulations for our programs.
    • Increasing awareness of student, faculty and staff-based intellectual property opportunities



    • Reorganize patient care operations to transform the delivery of health care into a paradigm that is compassionate, patient-centered, team-based, wellness-focused, effective and cost-efficient through such steps as:
      • Implementing activity-based costing to improve efficiencies
      • Developing methods to improve and measure staff and patient satisfaction
      • Modeling effective interdisciplinary team formation and collaborative care and then implementing such models in multiple clinic settings
      • Implementing the Faculty Practice Plan which will grow services, incentivize clinical faculty  and lessen tuition dollar reliance
      • Exploring innovative systems to organize health care services along a team-based approach to community-based care through implementing a fully operational integrated health information system that supports a truly patient-centered, collaborative care model
      • Incorporating ways to become aware of and respond to current and evolving market needs and drivers
    • Cooperatively develop processes and systems to translate advances in patient-centered, population-based collaborative care across curricular development, research, and care delivery through such steps as:
      • Establishing a process to integrate such models into all appropriate curricular activities
      • Integrating translational health research that creates new protocols for team-based, patient-centered care and positive outcomes into all patient care settings
      • Incorporating knowledge and skills in population-based care into our curricula and care delivery models to increase behavior and attitudes focused on population health
      • Providing continuity-of-care experiences for our students
      • Fully embracing the One Health approach in all education and clinical services
    • Expand our clinical services into new markets through creative partnerships that allow for:
      • Establishing new care delivery sites which can serve as training sites for students from all WesternU colleges and that have the potential to generate revenue
      • Expanding the Western Diabetes Institute (WDI)
      • Adding selective health care specialists
      • Developing ancillary health care services
      • Targeting care of underserved populations in our clinical education sites and training programs
      • Improving community access to veterinary care and services
    • Leverage WesternU’s strength as the largest producer of primary care providers in California to establish creative partnerships that create a robust, reliable, and permanent system of monitored clinical education for our students



    • Establish a Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR) to expand WesternU interprofessional clinical research opportunities
    • Utilize a team approach to investigate health care issues and to conduct research that advances the evaluation and treatment of individuals with complex medical conditions, by:
      • Establishing a common database for cross-program usage and collaboration
      • Establishing partnerships with community organizations, health care providers, and industries to enhance intra- and inter-organizational collaboration for bench, translational, and clinical research, and to promote bench-to-bedside projects
    • Explore the opportunity for WesternU to lead in the field of wellness protocols research
    • Encourage, support, and incentivize faculty generation of pioneering research programs, products and technologies that are:
      • Interprofessional
      • Evidence-based, and that
      • Achieve the highest levels of health in human and animal populations
    • Utilize research opportunities and results as a University benefit:
      • To enhance student education and experiences
      • To continuously transform care models in clinical settings
      • To improve community health through protocols with proven outcomes


    WesternU Library buildingSupporting the Strategies

    The strategies we have developed represent working visions, and their adoption and implementation will depend on many factors, including environmental changes, the emergence of new and stronger opportunities, availability of funding, and ongoing results of adopted strategic actions.

    A crucial piece of this process is to increase the University’s capacity to generate non-tuition revenue in order to lighten the burden of operational costs on tuition dollars. There will be an ongoing effort to evaluate and fund innovative education and health care ventures that reach this goal, and to adopt such research strategies as:

    • Creating WesternU Ventures and an Office of Technology Transfer to develop new markets for, and “commercialize,” the intellectual property (IP) of the University, coordinating related activities across educational innovation, technology sales, and continuing education products
    • Generating revenue-positive opportunities to conduct contracted research by establishing an Academic Contract Research organization

    In addition, we cannot overemphasize our need to pay close attention to the internal fitness (infrastructure, communication, and other processes) of our Institution. Accompanying the growth and development of WesternU’s academic and research realms is the correlated need to ensure that the units involved in this venture are properly resourced and staffed for the expanded tasks ahead.

    To that end, in addition to the mission-centric core strategies listed above, we have developed and will continue to develop ways to further strengthen our University through such key efforts as:

    • Enhancing internal communication and workflow technologies;
    • Expanding a University-wide “culture of evidence” that drives information-rich assessment and decision-making, operational performance, and continuous quality improvement;
    • Furthering engagement with our communities;
    • Growing University endowments and student scholarships;
    • Continuing to strengthen faculty governance and shared decision-making, and
    • Transforming, aligning, and augmenting key functional areas as needed.

    We must do this in order to meet the requirements of the growth we have already experienced and the future needs of our stakeholders and constituents.

    As well, we are formalizing a process and structure for ongoing University planning and continued monitoring, evaluation, and appropriate updating of our Strategic Plan. Such efforts will ensure better data collection, access, and analysis, enhanced communication, increased transparency, and expanded participation by internal stakeholders. Our establishment of constant “horizon scanning” groups in several areas will also empower us to create and respond to new opportunities in our typical “WesternU Way.”