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President’s Perspective – August 2021

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This summer’s graduations and white coat ceremonies hold special meaning as we cautiously emerge from a pandemic that has changed the world.

Boosters, masks, no masks, and back to masks, A.T. Still University (ATSU) students, faculty, and staff continue to look out for their peers, families, friends, patients, and communities.

Next year ATSU will celebrate its 130th anniversary. The founding institution of osteopathic medicine, A.T. Still University’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, continues to lead a growing profession with similar institutions building comprehensive health sciences programs. ATSU will be celebrating 130 years with a rededication of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine, events, and media campaigns.

In this issue of the President’s Perspective, faculty and staff accomplishments are celebrated along with graduations. One more graduation, A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Health Sciences’ Physician Assistant Studies, is coming Sept. 10, 2021.

ATSU commencements

A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH)
Friday, May 7
Mesa, Arizona
72 graduates
Commencement speaker: Teresa A. Dolan, DDS, MPH, vice president and chief clinical officer for Dentsply Sirona

A.T. Still University-Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-MOSDOH)
Friday, May 14
St. Louis, Missouri
42 graduates
Commencement speaker: Gary Harbison, MA, executive director of the Missouri Coalition for Oral Health

Saturday, May 15
Kirksville, Missouri
173 graduates
Commencement speaker: Col. Todd P. Huhn, DO, MPH, ’99, Aerospace Medicine division chief  for the Command Surgeon, Air Force Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana

A.T. Still University-College of Graduate Health Studies
Friday, May 21
250 graduates
Commencement speaker: Rebecca C. Kuhn, MSN, RN, FACHE, chief operating officer for Banner Health

A.T. Still University-School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA)
Friday, May 21
Mesa, Arizona
101 graduates
Commencement speaker: Karen J. Nichols, DO, MA, MACOI, FACP, CS-F, former dean of Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine

Friday, June 4
Mesa, Arizona, and virtual
365 graduates
Commencement speaker: Javier F. Cárdenas, MD, neurologist and director of the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center

ATSU white coat ceremonies

Class of 2025
Friday, July 9
Kirksville, Missouri

Class of 2025
Saturday, July 10
Kirksville, Missouri

Class of 2024
Friday, July 16
Kirksville, Missouri

Class of 2024
Saturday, July 17
Kirksville, Missouri

Upcoming white coat ceremonies

ATSU-ASHS Audiology 
Class of 2024
Sunday, Oct. 10
Mesa, Arizona

Class of 2025
Friday, Oct. 29
Mesa, Arizona

ATSU-ASHS Physician Assistant Studies 
Class of 2023
Friday, Oct. 29
Mesa, Arizona

Class of 2025
Friday, Oct. 29
Mesa, Arizona

Class of 2024
Friday, Nov. 5
Mesa, Arizona

COVID-19 update

ATSU remains vigilant and proactive as mutations, variants, and strains of COVID-19 continue to threaten our communities and daily life. The University continues to adhere to CDC guidance to prevent and reduce transmission and maintain healthy campus environments. Encouraging our co-workers, families, and friends to be fully vaccinated is the fastest and safest opportunity to continue slowing the spread of COVID-19. 

Accreditation news

Congratulations to ATSU-KCOM and ATSU’s Central Coast Physician Assistant program on their recent accreditation notifications. ATSU-KCOM was awarded Accreditation with Exceptional Outcome by the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College  Accreditation (COCA). This achievement, the highest possible under COCA, grants ATSU-KCOM the maximum accreditation length of 10 years. ATSU’s Central Coast Physician Assistant program was granted Accreditation-Provisional status by the Accreditation Review Commission for Physician Assistant Education, an important first step in the development of this program, and 90 students will matriculate in September 2021.

2021-2028 Strategic Plan

Thank you again to all involved in updating ATSU’s strategic plan. Please click here to review the strategic plan’s themes and goals.

2021-2022 strategic focus areas

  1. Provide faculty and staff internal grant funding for innovative projects exploring highly flexible learning options utilizing technology.
  2. Investigate opportunities to fulfill ATSU’s mission through the growth of existing degree programs and addition of new programs.
  3. Increase scholarly activity with an emphasis on improving health of underserved communities.

ATSU winter break

This year, University employees will have an additional four days to spend with family and friends during ATSU’s annual winter break. The University will be closed beginning Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, and will reopen Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. 

Faculty and staff updates

Recent promotions: Please view the list of employee promotions (PDF).

Accomplishment kudos: Please view the list of accomplishment kudos (PDF).

Anniversary milestones: Please view the list of employee anniversaries (PDF).

Continuing to take care of each other

This academic year, ATSU continues to focus on four concepts to assure our success.

  1. ATSU is committed to the success of all students, faculty, and staff. Faculty and staff are encouraged to work with their supervisors to understand expectations and refine career plans. Students are encouraged to be proactive in academic endeavors and reach out to faculty and Student Affairs when needed.
  2. All students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to strive for cultural proficiency and celebrate the uniqueness of each individual.
  3. Healthcare and education are enhanced when organizations understand the benefits of developing a diverse and inclusive culture.
  4. Know what do so if experiencing harassment or discrimination? Students should contact Student Affairs. Faculty and staff should contact Human Resources. Any student, faculty, or staff may contact the anonymous Fraud Hotline (see below).

Ideas or concerns?

Please submit your ideas to Each email will receive a personal response from me. Ideas are only shared with the sender’s permission.

If you see something you are worried about, please contact the anonymous Fraud Hotline to report situations or behavior that compromises ATSU’s integrity. The hotline is available 24/7 at 1.855.FRAUD.HL (1.855.372.8345) or

In closing

Thank you for taking a few minutes to catch up with ATSU’s recent news.

Please remember being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 offers the safest means to protect our peers, families, friends, patients, communities, and country.

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to our students, faculty, staff, trustees, and supporters for their commitment to ATSU and keeping everyone safe and well.

Yours in service,

Craig M. Phelps, DO, ’84
A.T. Still University of Health Sciences
800 W. Jefferson St., Kirksville, MO 63501 | 660.626.2121
5850 E. Still Circle, Mesa, AZ 85206 | 480.219.6000
Office of the President |  
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A.T. Still University of Health Sciences serves as a learning-centered university dedicated to preparing highly competent professionals through innovative academic programs with a commitment to continue its osteopathic heritage and focus on whole person healthcare, scholarship, community health, interprofessional education, diversity, and underserved populations.


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