The bright sun and cloudless sky of a California spring day is the happy setting for a university commencement. As the stirring strains of the overture fade out, the faculty and graduates take their seats. Name after name is called and men and women move forward. They reach out for the hand extended by President Philip Pumerantz. Proud parents or spouses join in placing academic hoods over the heads of their smiling sons and daughters, and the new graduates return to their seats proudly holding their diplomas. It is a ceremony of dignity marking noteworthy accomplishments.
Accompanied by laughter, a few tears and embraces, commencement at Western University of Health Sciences bears vivid testimony to the dedication, hard work, sleepless nights and disciplined minds of men and women devoted to the healing arts. What greater symbol of the purposefulness and solidity of an educational endeavor than this important ceremony?
Birth of a College
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 new 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.
On the day after Labor Day, 1977, Dr. Pumerantz set up shop in a rented office in a building on a moribund outdoor shopping mall in Pomona. He had some borrowed furniture, pens and pencils, paper and a telephone. It was immediately clear to President Pumerantz that a school without a track record or alumni would have to seek and win support with approaches that were far different from those employed by established institutions. He knew that he had to develop a following of supporters who believed in his ability and had confidence in his vision. And there were supporters: physicians, foundations and corporations and with momentum building state and federal agencies. By January 1978, COMP had earned pre-accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association; in July, provisional accreditation status, which was an acknowledgement that necessary financial resources were in hand.
Buildings were acquired on the mall, and after extensive redesigning, renovations commenced and were completed on an accelerated schedule. Faculty and administrators were hired, student applications were received.
On 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.
Expanding the Mission
Pioneering again, President Pumerantz and his team had their eyes firmly set on the next decade. An evolving health care system had new needs for certain kinds of caregivers. With the establishment of a School of Allied Health Professions, including educational programs to produce physician assistants, physical therapists, and health professions educators, the institution began focusing on the preparation of members of the primary health care team.
In the early 1990s, with a school of pharmacy in development and a twentieth anniversary on the horizon, a plan was set in motion to re-structure the collection of health professions educational programs into a university. In August 1996 at its Annual Convocation, President Pumerantz officially declared that the institution was now Western University of Health Sciences. On that historic day, the College of Pharmacy opened its doors to the Charter Class of 68 students who are currently pursuing Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degrees. In August 2001 the new Harriet K. and Philip Pumerantz Library was opened. In 2002 the university celebrated its 25th anniversary.
The University Expands
The founding mission of the institution endures as the guiding force while the University continues to educate and prepare humanistic health care professionals.
The concrete evidence of the institution's mission being fulfilled occurred in 1995 and 1996, when WesternU/COMP was ranked number one in the nation in two separate surveys for the percentage of its graduates choosing careers in primary care medicine.
The institution's success is due to the emphasis placed on the education and preparation of interdisciplinary primary health care service teams. The University's educational philosophy focuses on the preparation of highly skilled health care professionals who are also compassionate, humanistic caregivers. Curricula in all programs include courses on communication, psychosocial aspects of patient care and professional and personal development. Faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni and supporters refer often to the "WesternU Family," reflecting the caring, nurturing campus environment.
The Pomona campus now occupies approximately 25 acres and consists of nine colleges: the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP); the College of Allied Health Professions; the College of Pharmacy; the College of Graduate Nursing; the College of Veterinary Medicine; the College of Dental Medicine; the College of Optometry; the College of Podiatric Medicine; and the Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences.
The Center for Disability Issues and the Health Professions (CDIHP) has been established to improve the capabilities of health care providers to meet the growing needs of people with disabilities. Innovations in technology and learning environments permeate the University. WesternU remains a national leader in its education of family nurse practitioners with the use of a Web-based curriculum. Web-based educational programs are also being developed in the areas of teaching excellence and licensure examination review for health professionals across the nation. College of Pharmacy classrooms are hexagonal-shaped and equipped with state-of-the-art computerization and multi-media components in the center, allowing for increased student/professor interactive learning.
With the beginning of the fall 2005 term, WesternU took the next step in bringing focus and comprehensiveness to the research effort that has been growing in the colleges over the years. Dr. Benjamin Cohen, Provost and Chief Operating Officer, said that research will help distinguish this university and be a compliment to our exceptional teaching and mission. A distinguished scientist was recruited to serve as the vice president for research and biotechnology and to found and initiate a research-based graduate program.
It is said that graduation is never an end, rather it is a beginning. As WesternU graduates become alumni each May, they carry with them into their chosen fields, a humanistic philosophy with which all instruction at WesternU is marked: persons are to be valued, treated with care and compassion and understood in their totality. This is our hallmark. As the University moves forward, it is with the commitment that the future will be as exciting as the past, that the education of tomorrow's health care professionals is a noble calling.
To Teach, To Heal, Together
To Teach, To Heal, Together - more than any other statement, those words define the thrust of WesternU.
About Western University of Health Sciences
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.
Combining a deep respect for patients with a commitment to training compassionate caregivers, Western University of Health Sciences is an innovative graduate university for the health professions dedicated to preparing you to flourish as a skilled, compassionate patient care provider.
As a WesternU student, whether you choose a program in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, nursing, optometry, dentistry, podiatric or veterinary medicine, you will learn to collaborate with your colleagues in other professions to improve patients quality of life. You will also share common experiences, such as:
Participating in early clinical experiences. Many of our students work with patients as early as the first semester, developing outstanding clinical and interpersonal skills.
Working in a variety of clinical settings. WesternU students graduate with an enormous amount of patient experience acquired in settings that include underserved rural and inner-city group practices, managed care organizations and tertiary care hospitals.
Volunteering in the community. WesternU students develop an ethic of service and learn to work in interdisciplinary teams by helping in international relief efforts, homeless programs and at community health fairs.
Studying with faculty who are teachers, researchers, practitioners and mentors. WesternU faculty are committed to working closely with students to ensure academic and professional success.
Developing interpersonal skills. All our programs emphasize patient-centered treatment and include studies in the social and behavioral sciences so students graduate with a keen sensitivity to patient needs.
Why do all of this?
At Western University of Health Sciences our goal is to help you become not just a skilled practitioner, but also a multi-dimensional human being, someone who understands and respects diversity, feels for the sick and has the ability to draw on the whole of your life and professional experiences in helping people heal.
Location: Pomona, CA, a small city in Southern California Inland Empire
Number of students: 2,663 -- 09/10 academic year
Average age: 29
At Western University of Health Sciences, we - educators, support staff, and trustees - recognize two crucial issues of interest to our students: the special nature of health professions education and the distinction between the cost and price of that education. Explaining the relationship of these issues can be a difficult task, for the subject is filled with complexities. But if you are considering a degree program at Western University, we urge you to take the time to read the following discussion.
Cost and Price
Some of the public believes that medical and health professions schools cost too much. For example, for the price of a year at a private medical school, you can buy a top-of-the-line sports car. Some also feel colleges don't care what they charge. At Western University we are sensitive to the concern of our students, their families and alumni about the price of their education. We know you are concerned about how much that price will increase in the years ahead and about how you can afford your education. So let's discuss this candidly, starting with the distinction between "the cost" and "the price" of running our University.
"The cost" is what the University spends to educate a student - everything from salaries, educational equipment, buildings and insurance, to computers and energy and security. It is the total expenditures for the entire educational enterprise we call Western University.
"The price" is what students are charged for that education - the amount of tuition and fees that is found in our catalog each year. However, it is important to realize that students do not pay the full cost of their education. By contrast, at a public university much of the cost is covered by state appropriations to the institution. At private universities such as ours, part of the cost is subsidized by philanthropy, endowment income and foundation and government grants.
The important fact is that full tuition at Western University covers only about 85 percent of what it actually costs to educate a student. Moreover, tuition rate increases do not follow consumer price increases, as some believe, because the goods and services we purchase to operate Western University are different from those contained in the Consumer Price Index. For example, books and journals, construction, maintenance and scientific equipment increase at rates higher than those of a spiffy new car. Western University, as a private institution, functions at no expense to the taxpayers. The reason tuition is lower at public universities is not because of greater efficiencies, but because of sizeable state subsidies from taxpayers. This means that student tuition covers less of the student's actual education costs. The cost of providing the educational experience is basically the same for both public and private universities.
Special Nature of Western University
Now let's look at what is unique and special about Western University. While it is true that we must use sound business practices, we are, above all, an educational institution. This means we are the repository of knowledge, the site of exploration, the catalyst for personal growth, the center of human understanding and one of the sources for the development of the country's health professions workforce.
A Western University education is an experience that touches and enriches a student's life in a profound way and helps define who you are and what you will become. It develops bonds with classmates and the University that will continue after graduation and throughout your career in the health professions. While it is essential that we continue working to control costs and make Western University affordable to every qualified applicant, it is also essential that we never do anything to weaken our education program in an effort to make it less expensive.
Western University is set in a climate of competent, caring and compassionate people, where innovation and growth are encouraged and enabled. As a result, there is a value-added component that makes Western University unique. In a quarter century, we have developed quality accredited educational programs and we continue to strive for excellence. We have earned a national reputation, our graduates obtain the best internships and residencies and professional employment, and we increasingly attract support from foundations and philanthropic sources. That is the foundation of the "Western University Experience." In order to sustain this quality, we must continue to invest in critical human and material resources, which are typically costly annual expenditures. Some of those resources are:
1. Support for faculty and staff who are excellent at what they do - since Western University is highly labor intensive, salaries and benefits absorb a much greater share of expenditures than would be typical in the nonacademic world. Salaries and benefits for employees represent approximately two-thirds of our total operating costs.
2. Investment in facilities, equipment and up-to-date technology - we must ensure that the campus and its facilities are safe, attractive and comfortable.
3. Supportive services - it is important that students, faculty, and staff have available the most current services, such as financial aid, campus security, insurance for the University, and library and information learning resources.
4. Administrative expertise - we must employ individuals with a wide range of administrative and legal expertise, both to protect Western University's institutional interests and to handle the host of increasingly complicated and costly regulatory requirements from governmental and accrediting agencies.
5. Financial expertise - we also need to employ qualified professionals to handle increasingly sophisticated financial matters in fund raising, annuities, institutional investments, etc.
What is the value of a Western University education? Let's refer back to the analogy of the expensive car. Yes, it is true that a year's tuition could buy a very nice car. But remember, a year later that car will be worth thousands of dollars less, while that year at Western University is an investment in your future. It has bought learning, personal and professional development, and entry into a career that has the promise of improving the way we live on our planet. A Western University education appreciates in value rather than depreciates.
How, then, can one put a price tag on such an education? To take on the calling of a healer suggests that one's motivation goes beyond simply expecting a high financial return on one's investment. Twenty years from now, when that shiny new car is most likely a recycled block of steel, it will virtually have no value. But those years wisely invested at Western University will result in a lifetime of benefits. We often hear from our students, alumni and their families that a Western University education has meant a great deal to them, and they are grateful. Many tell us this is one of the best investments they could ever make.
While the "price" of an education at Western University and the resulting debt from that investment may seem high, we believe that the benefits to you and, ultimately, to the society you will serve, are enormous.
Sources: National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities - Royce Stutzman, CPA, January 2005
Collage of WesternU students in classrooms and clinical settingsWestern University of Health Sciences is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC, 985 Atlantic Ave, #100 Alameda CA 94501. Phone Number: 501-748-9001), an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Commission on Recognition of Post-secondary Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Western University also is approved as a degree-granting institution by the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of California. Professional accreditations for each academic program are indicated in the appropriate sections of this web site.
Western University of Health Sciences takes very seriously complaints and concerns regarding the institution. Most complaints should be resolved at the campus level. If your complaint regarding the Western University of Health Sciences has not been resolved at the campus level, you may present your complaint as follows:
1. If your complaint is associated with the institution compliance with academic program quality and WASC accrediting standards, you may file a complaint with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the agency that accredits the Western University academic program.
2. If your complaint is associated with your professional programs compliance with the appropriate professional accrediting standards, you may file a complaint with the accrediting body listed in the program specific section of the University catalog.
3. If your complaint involves matters not associate with the University academic programs, you may file a complaint with the California State Attorney General by contacting the Public Inquiry Unit of the California State Department of Justice using on-line forms available.
Quality Care at Western University of Health Sciences
Western University of Health Sciences offers the finest quality patient care, using the most up-to-date high-tech equipment available on the market. All this for up to two-thirds or what you can expect to pay elsewhere! All because Western U is an accredited university where students actually are engaged with their patients. However, no need to fear about the quality of their care as every action is supervised by qualified medical doctors.
Subscribe to the subject Western University of Health Sciences