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President’s Perspective – May 2019

President's Perpsective graphic

A season for celebration

Graduation season is well underway at A.T. Still University (ATSU). We are blessed to enjoy multiple weeks of graduation activities from Missouri to Arizona. Witnessing the joy of our faculty and staff is exceeded only by the excitement and pride of our graduates and their families.

This special time of year allows us to pause, reflect, and honor the accomplishments of students and faculty. I would like to congratulate all our graduates. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to your profession

ATSU commencements

Seven ASDOH graduates

Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH)
Friday, May 10
Mesa, Arizona
74 graduates
Commencement speaker: George Blue Spruce, DDS, MPH, assistant dean, American Indian affairs, ATSU-ASDOH

MOSDOH graduates in seats listening to speaker

Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-MOSDOH)
Friday, May 17
Kirksville, Missouri
42 graduates
Commencement speaker: Donald M. Suggs, DDS, publisher and executive editor of The St. Louis American newspaper

KCOM graduates and friends with diplomas and flowers

Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM)
Saturday, May 18
Kirksville, Missouri
170 graduates
Commencement speaker: Rear Adm. Joyce M. Johnson, DO, MA, U.S. Public Health Service (retired), clinical and adjunct professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine and Health Care Administration graduate program

Doctor of Health Sciences graduates with faculty
Doctor of Health Sciences program graduates

College of Graduate Health Studies (ATSU-CGHS)
Friday, May 24
Mesa, Arizona
340 graduates
Commencement speaker: Robert Pangrazi, PhD, professor emeritus at Arizona State University and educational consultant for Gopher Sport

Three SOMA female graduates with flowers

School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA)
Friday, May 24
Mesa, Arizona
106 graduates
Commencement speaker: Linda Thomas-Hemak, MD, FACP, FAAP, CEO of The Wright Center for Community Health and president/CEO of The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education

Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS)
Friday, June 7
Mesa, Arizona
318 graduates
Commencement speaker: Kathleen Campbell, PhD, CCC-A, distinguished scholar and professor at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

ATSU-ASHS Physician Assistant Studies
Friday, Aug. 2
Mesa, Arizona

ATSU white coat ceremonies

ATSU-ASHS Audiology – class of 2022
Saturday, April 6
Mesa, Arizona

ATSU-ASHS Physical Therapy – class of 2020
Friday, May 31
Mesa, Arizona

ATSU-ASHS Occupational Therapy – class of 2019
Wednesday, June 5
Mesa, Arizona

ATSU-SOMA and ATSU-ASDOH – classes of 2023
ATSU-ASHS Physician Assistant Studies – class of 2021
Friday, July 12
Mesa, Arizona

ATSU-KCOM and ATSU-MOSDOH – classes of 2023
Saturday, July 13
Kirksville, Missouri

2018-2019 strategic focus area updates

Patient care centers
Under the direction of Norman Gevitz, PhD, senior vice president-academic affairs, and Matt Heeren, JD, vice president & general counsel, a two-year review of ATSU’s patient care centers has already led to progress in standardizing policies and procedures to maximize patient safety and confidentiality while providing a positive environment for patients, students, faculty, and staff. There will be more great ideas to implement following the June 2019 conclusion of the review. Thank you, deans and patient care center directors, for all of your contributions.

Developing cultural proficiency
It has been a busy year for Clinton Normore, MBA, associate vice president, diversity & inclusion, and his staff as ATSU continues to develop a culture welcoming and accepting of all. Accomplishments include receiving the Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for the second consecutive year, honoring students at the recent Graduate Health Professions Scholarship pinning ceremonies, and hosting an open house for educators and community leaders at the St. Louis Dental Education and Oral Health Center. Additionally, as part of ATSU’s Cultural Proficiency Speaker Series, Clyde Evans, PhD, president of CE Consulting and former ATSU trustee, provided workshops for Mesa, Arizona, campus students, faculty, and staff regarding “Understanding Unconscious Bias and Micro Aggression.” Dr. Evans will conduct similar workshops on the Kirksville, Missouri, campus during academic year 2019-20.

ATSU branding and marketing
Throughout May and June, internal and external ATSU stakeholders are participating in one-on-one, small-group and large-group discussions regarding University brand stewardship. Results of the conversations will lead to an appropriately sized plan incorporating best practices into ATSU’s branding and marketing initiatives. Sean O’Connor, MBA, interim senior director, communication & marketing, is coordinating these efforts.

Student clinical experiences
Dr. Gevitz and Leonard Goldstein, DDS, PhD, assistant vice president, clinical education development, are working with ATSU stakeholders to evaluate current and future student clinical education needs. Results will assist future planning and alignment of resources to assure students continue to experience quality educational opportunities.

California location

Site selection is complete and a program director has been hired. Darron Smith, PhD, PA-C, is the new program director and department chair for the Central Coast Physician Assistant Studies program in Santa Maria, California. ATSU is looking forward to matriculating 100 students in July 2020.

Ted Wendel, PhD, senior vice president, university planning & strategic initiatives, and Gary Cloud, PhD, vice president, strategic university partnerships & diversity, are leading ATSU’s California efforts in partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). This groundbreaking partnership with NACHC along with ATSU’s existing colleges, schools, and programs firmly places ATSU on the forefront of innovative educational opportunities and partnerships.

Facilities update

Kirksville, Missouri
Current facilities projects include updates to the dental simulation lab in the Interprofessional Education Building, a new elevator and upgraded restroom in Memorial Hall, and planning for the Timken-Burnett Research Building renovation. Additionally, construction on phase one of the Dan Martin Court improvements at the Thompson Campus Center will begin this summer.

Mesa, Arizona
Projects completed include the Interprofessional and Culturally Proficient Standardized Patient Experience Center, the Dillenberg Center-PDS Innovation Clinic, and build-outs to accommodate growth of ATSU-SOMA. Other projects in progress include repurposing offices, a meditation room, a new learning resource center, and parking expansion.

St. Louis
Planning is underway to accommodate additional students, faculty, staff, and patients at the St. Louis Dental Education and Oral Health Center.

Faculty and staff updates

Congratulations on recent promotions
Please view the complete list of employee promotions (PDF).

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

Well wishes to faculty and staff celebrating anniversary milestones
Please view the complete list of employee anniversaries (PDF).

Ideas or concerns?

Please continue submitting 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

Best wishes to all our graduates as they embark on the next step of their careers, and thank you to the faculty and staff who make each commencement ceremony a wonderful and unique experience.

Yours in service,

Craig Phelps

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
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