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President’s Perspective – The first 120 days

President's Perpsective graphic

The first 120 days have been a wonderful and humbling opportunity to get to know many of our faculty, staff, administrators, students, alumni, community supporters, and board members.

Meeting with each dean, ASHS program chair, president staff member, and student leadership has helped me better understand the mosaic of dedicated individuals and teams comprising ATSU.

While we have much to be thankful for, I better understand the needs many of you have for improved, effective University services. Whether it be streamlining our human resources and budgeting processes, upgrading ATSU’s website and presence, improving IT services, developing a comprehensive marketing plan, providing “best in class” student services, and/or maximizing grants and fundraising, it is imperative for ATSU to continue moving forward in each of these areas. I can assure you, leaders and team members of each university support service area, including me and my office staff, will engage with each school, department, and program to better understand and serve your needs.


Can ATSU really be the preeminent health sciences university? When our Board of Trustees adopted this vision statement for ATSU, it was not only bold but controversial. How could ATSU become preeminent with a fraction of resources as compared to a traditional research university? The answer from our board: When ATSU attains its four key “attributes” in its strategic plan’s vision over the next 10-20 years, it will become preeminent. The four key attributes are:

During the October 2012 board meeting, a final set of metrics was proposed for measuring vision attainment. Michael McManis, PhD, interim vice president for academic affairs, along with faculty and staff, laid the groundwork for these important metric discussions. Recommended metrics, such as our strategic plan, will be evaluated annually and adjusted as needed based on relevancy, ease of attaining and accuracy of pertinent information, and strategic plan alignment. A final version of the vision attainment metrics will be available Dec. 15, 2012.

Interprofessional education (IPE), Diversity, and Center for Teaching & Learning Excellence

Great strides are being made on bringing forward the three strategic plan initiatives listed above. Many thanks to students, faculty, and staff for their participation.

Diversity Initiative Plan comments due date: November 30, 2012

IPE Case Competition date: December 1, 2012

Center for Teaching & Learning Excellence Plan comments due date: January 15, 2013

IPE Plan comments due date: January 15, 2013

You will receive emails inviting your participation/input in the above activities.

Visioning forward

In the last “Perspectives” you may recall each school/college and program was given funding to “dream” its future aligned with ATSU’s mission and vision. Many of you also attended Phase I of either the Arizona or Missouri facility/campus plan presentations. As we develop programing and revenue models for future school/college growth and analyze current and future utilization, a clear vision of what ATSU will need over the next several decades will emerge.

Measuring quality

Discussions are underway with deans and the senior vice president for academic affairs regarding measuring effectiveness of our schools’ and college’s teaching and learning, as well as overall institutional effectiveness. The Higher Learning Commission offers two programs for maintaining accreditation, the Standard Pathway and Open Pathway. ATSU will be using Open Pathway.

The Center for Advanced Oral Health Education

ASDOH Dean Jack Dillenberg, DDS, MPH, and a team including advancement staff, ASDOH faculty and staff, and community members have raised almost $700,000 in gifts and pledges to make The Center for Advanced Oral Health Education a reality. The center provides a wonderful opportunity for ATSU IPE endeavors as patients needing special care oral health services often present with complex medical, orthopedic, or behavioral health challenges. This unique and needed center also provides an excellent opportunity to tell ATSU’s story to the public in a manner consistent with its mission of caring for our nation’s underserved in a context of clinical and educational excellence.

Faculty and staff

In October we mourned the passing of George Scheurer, DO, ’54, retired emeritus professor of internal medicine and emeritus assistant to the president for facilities at KCOM. He will be forever remembered for his dedication to family and friends, his community, and the advancement of osteopathic medical education.

Congratulations to the following on his/her recent promotion through Oct. 31:

Kudos to the following:

George Blue Spruce Jr., DDS, MPH, assistant dean for American Indian affairs and assistant professor at ASDOH, was selected as an honorary commander at Luke Air Force Base.

Michelle Chasse, MBA, academic coordinator for the ASHS DHSc program, received the first annual ASHS Staff of the Year award. Chasse also received the Arizona campus Employee Excellence Award for the second quarter of 2012.

Elizabeth Curran, DT, CDE, assistant professor and director of dental laboratory technology at ASDOH, is the 2012 recipient of the American College of Prosthodontists Dental Technician Leadership Award.

Jack Dillenberg, DDS, MPH, dean, ASDOH, has been named the Man of the Year by East Valley Fresh Start.

Sue Foley, assistant for the KCOM AHEC program, received the Employee Excellence Award on the Missouri campus for the second quarter of 2012.

Lori Haxton, MA, vice president for student affairs, received the 2012 Above and Beyond Humanitarian award for KCOM.

Leisa Walter, library assistant, received the Employee Excellence Award on the Missouri campus for the first quarter of 2012.

Holiday message

This Thanksgiving our thoughts and prayers go out to those in need, especially the many survivors of Hurricane Sandy’s desolation, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni living in the affected area. Stacy, Zach, and I visited our students in Brooklyn and alumni in the area prior to Sandy’s arrival. We can only imagine the pain and suffering but also realize our nation’s collective spirit will rally to support rebuilding lives and communities.

If you are looking for a place to go for Thanksgiving dinner, Stacy and I will be hosting our Arizona students; all are welcome.

Yours in service,
Craig M. Phelps, DO


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