September 5, 2017 - The Record
Passing by him in the halls, you wouldn’t know that Dr. Jim O’Connor has swum over 500 miles in the San Francisco Bay and gone on countless scuba dives across the globe. Or that his first time teaching was as a high school student filling in when his Biology teacher had a sudden injury. Or that he has learned to paint with octopus ink from one of the greatest painters in the medium, Diana Tillion. Dr. O’Connor’s adventurous spirit has been a driving force for the College of Education and Health Sciences (CEHS) since it was founded under his leadership.
As its dean, Dr. O’Connor sought out ways to foster a tight-knit community among CEHS’s four programs: the Graduate School of Education, the Joint MSPAS/MPH program, the Public Health Program, and the School of Nursing. He treated all of the CEHS staff to an annual holiday lunch. And he found it important to host other community events like the "end of year" and "welcome back" luncheons, student mixers, and faculty and staff retreats off campus.
With his own money and the support of his fellow faculty and staff, Dr. O’Connor started Touro University California’s (TUC) first diversity scholarship, which awarded scholarships to four CEHS students from underrepresented minorities and disadvantaged backgrounds. And throughout his tenure, Dr. O’Connor has been known for being a proponent of faculty and staff development.
“What I’ve tried to do is build a family at our college,” Dr. O’Connor reflects. “I always wanted to have a very flat organization where the newest administrative assistant had as strong of a voice as the most experienced professor.”
Dr. O’Connor found a special home in CEHS, not only as an educator, but also as a physician assistant.
“Probably one of the highlights of my life was the first time I was assisting an open heart surgery,” he beams. “There I am, holding a beating heart in my hand while they were stitching a valve. It was as surreal as landing on the moon.”
As Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, Dr. O’Connor saw to the establishment of the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan for TUC. After receiving input from the campus community, the committee set strategic goals that included: improving and further developing the physical campus, integrating interprofessional education into the curriculum, and expanding scholarship and focused research on campus through key partnerships. To date, the strategic plan has led to an increase in TUC’s contribution to employee insurance, the expansion of human resources, and the addition of new positions to support students such as career counseling, psychological counseling, and greater academic support.
For years Dr.Connor has traveled regularly to Hong Kong where he evaluates Invitational Education schools. His career has been committed to student-centered pedagogy, which focuses on creating caring, respectful educational environments that show an unconditional positive regard to students. These are ideas that are stressed throughout the programs of CEHS via the theory of Invitational Education. A life-long educator with a love for being in the classroom, Dr. O’Connor has envisioned a CEHS that is not only academically robust, but also a welcoming learning environment that inspires students to reach beyond their expectations.
Last year under Dr. O’Connor’s leadership, the faculty across all four units of CEHS decided to focus the Social Justice Series on issues of poverty and homelessness. Many from TUC and the greater community came to see Richard LeMieux, author of Breakfast at Sally’s, give his first-hand account on homelessness and share a message of understanding for those in need. This major undertaking also included booths from various nonprofits with information on homelessness to give attendees a course to action.
“All of our programs are about working with underserved populations, so it was just a perfect fit,” reflects Dr. O’Connor.
Dr. O’Connor is currently away on sabbatical, having now stepped down from his role as Dean of CEHS. He will return on January 1, 2018 to become the Director of Touro University Western Division’s new Center for Learning and Teaching Excellence. There, his focus will expand to improving the quality of teaching across the California and Nevada campuses. On this new horizon, Dr. O’Connor hopes to realize his vision of effective, caring education for both universities for the years to come.
To learn more about Dr. O'Connor in One Educator’s Invitational Journey in Higher Education and Beyond, visit: http://www.tu.edu/aboutus/tuclife/tourotriumphs/index.html#oconnor
The new academic year is in full swing with the celebration of three new events at TUC!
On Thursday, August 17, TUC held its first ever Community Day. Over one hundred people came to experience the campus and learn about its role in the community. Twenty seven interactive tables welcomed guests, offering services like diabetes screenings at MOBEC, yoga demonstrations from Integrative Medicine, and Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment from the Student-Run Free Clinic. Community members also beheld the debut of TUC's SimMan 3G high fidelity human simulator from the Interprofessional Simulation Center. Twenty eight posters from the various colleges were on display, and tours of the historic Mare Island campus kept guests smiling.
After a year of fundraising, planning, and planting, the Meditation Garden had its grand opening on Friday, August 18. Last fall, the student group Wellness, Academics, Resilience, and Mindfulness (WARM) raised awareness for the need of a space on campus for reflection and stress reduction. Friends, faculty, staff, and students came together to help fund the garden on Giving Tuesday. After the restoration and enclosure of the space behind the historic naval hospital, they returned to plant the garden in the spring. Now our students can enjoy a space of inspiration and revitalization.
Dr. H. Eduardo Velasco reflected at the celebration, “Planting a garden is not only civic duty and love of nature; it is also an emblem of the men and women to be; it is repudiating bigotry and embracing diversity; it is forging ideals for a better future, your future.”
And on Sunday, TUC employees and their families flocked to our neighboring Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in celebration of TUC's 20th Anniversary. At a breakfast meetup before the park opened for general admission, CEO and Senior Provost Shelley Berkley thanked everyone for their hard work and dedication to TUC. Totaling nearly 200 together with family and friends, TUC took to the park with laughter and good cheer.
Take a moment to read up on our WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) Accreditation. It could win you a gift card next month when an email goes out to test your knowledge about the reaccreditation process, TUC mission and the Strategic Action Plan.
Dr. Anh (Andy) Do, PharmD, COP ‘14, is currently an Ambulatory Care Pharmacy Supervisor at Kaiser Permanente Napa-Solano service area. He is the Pharmacist-in-Charge (PIC) of both Vallejo and Vacaville oncology/infusion centers and helps oversee pharmacy services for chronic pain, home health, hospice, and psychiatry clinics. He completed his PGY-1 Pharmacy Residency at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and went on to complete his PGY-2 Health-System Pharmacy Administration Residency at Palomar Health in San Diego, where he also concomitantly completed the Pharmacy Leadership Academy through the ASHP Foundation. He holds teaching certificates from both University of Southern California School of Pharmacy and Keck Graduate Institute School of Pharmacy.
What inspired you to practice locally at Kaiser?
Breaching into management, especially fresh out of residency, is a rare opportunity. It is even rarer to do this at a renowned institution such as Kaiser Permanente, where I knew that I wanted to work while I was still a student at Touro University California. Although I am from Southern California, the opportunity tempted me to go back up to Northern California and practice near where I went to school and can make an immediate impact within a community with which I am familiar. Furthermore, a few of my professors and upperclassmen practiced in Napa-Solano, so it made the environment and transition easier.
What makes ambulatory care oncology and infusion center pharmacies different?
Oncology and specialty infusion pharmacy is a unique sector that is rapidly expanding and a hot topic right now, and it will continue to be, especially as USP 797* and USP 800** compounding regulations continues to change the landscape of regulatory compliance. Cancer and specialty treatments are becoming more complex as the population ages and as the market for these specialty medications increases. I wanted to be at the forefront of these changes and challenges as pharmacists have a vital role in the decision-making process to discuss formulary management, treatment protocols, regulatory compliance, advances in technology, and improvement in patient outcomes as part of the interdisciplinary team.
What did you learn as a TUC student that you try to impart now as a professor?
As a student, I was very involved in various leadership roles, such as the VP of Student Affairs for the Student Government Association. I also took part in as many pharmacy competitions as possible and volunteered for community events whenever feasible. During both years of my post-graduate residency training, I was still actively precepting students, volunteering, and mentoring those around me. What I try to impart to the next generation of pharmacists is to do what you do because you WANT to do it, not just because it will look good on your resume or CV. Be passionate about your profession, but at the same time try to have fun with it. By getting yourself out there, you will be able to network with all types of people and will most likely work with them one day. Yes, pharmacy is a small world, but the healthcare world is also small too; it is amazing how many people I run into that I have seen while I was a student.
* USP General Chapter 797 provides standards for compounding sterile preparations to promote patient safety and prevent harm.
** USP General Chapter 800 provides standards for safe handling of hazardous drugs to minimize the risk of exposure to healthcare personnel, patients and the environment.
TUC On the Air: Back to School Safety from Dr. Tami Hendriksz, Pediatrician and Assistant Dean for Clinical Integration
Dr. Tami Hendriksz gives these useful back to school tips to help set your child's school year off right, making the return to school is as safe and positive as possible.
Dining and Catering Services introduces the new University Gift Card program to the campus population for the 2017-2018 academic year.
The new University Gift Card may be purchased at the TUC Dining and Catering Services offices (located in the Farragut Inn) or during operational hours at the Farragut Inn Café and the Lander Bistro where the card can be used for the purchase of food and beverage items. The University Gift Card is a pre-paid account card that may be loaded and reloaded. Individuals and Student Governmental organizations can purchase a University Gift Card with a credit card or cash for any amount. For campus departmental groups, single or multiple gift cards may be purchased, with approval, using University issued credit or procurement card, through check requisition, or may apply the costs of the gift cards to a DCS University In-House Account. Please utilize the Group Gift Card Request Form when funding through the campus budget and send completed and authorized forms to email@example.com. You will be contacted by a DCS staff member upon receipt.
In order to redeem your University gift card, it must be presented to the cashier at the time of purchase and may only be used at TUC’s dining locations.
The gift card cannot be redeemed for cash or be replaced if damaged, lost, or stolen and cannot be used for service charges. All gift card sales are final and cannot be returned or refunded.
The University gift card does not expire and there is no service fee.
Please contact Dining and Catering Services department at (707) 638-5505 with any questions.
Never has a ball been thrown with such ferocity, such tenaciousness, as it did in Wilson Park that day.
The Admirals then invited the Bull to join in on their festivities between innings. He got to play musical chairs with the children here, judge a sack race here, and get down in a dance off against the Admirals' on field announcer Chris Owens here.
The Bull then cheered hard with the crowd until the Admirals defeated the Pittsburg Diamonds 8-5, closing their series in a sweep. Their season ended on 8/29 with the Admirals winning the second-half, Pacific Association title.
Go Admirals! Go Bulls!
Dr. Jill Alban is our Director of Academic Support. She arrived at Touro two years ago, having taught for more than 30 years throughout the Bay Area. She has 4 degrees from Mills College--her BA, Teaching Credential, MA, and EdD. Dr. Alban loves to ski and to swim and was a competitive rough water swimmer, swimming both the Escape from Alcatraz triatholon and from island to island in Greece. These days you can find her at the Berkeley City Club swimming in an indoor heated pool.
Can you tell us about an experience helping a student academically succeed that really sticks out?
I met with a COM student after her first week of classes. Already, she felt overwhelmed. She felt she did not have time to review her lectures and prepare for the next day. She was unable to find time to exercise and prepare healthy meals for herself. Together we worked out a study plan. In writing out her days, she realized that there was enough time in the week to study, eat well and exercise. At the end of her first semester, she sent me an email letting me know she had done well in all of her classes.
What inspires your commitment to academic life and the betterment of TUC students?
Our students are amazing. They are here to actualize their professional dreams. I see my job as someone who is able to help them develop successful study strategies so that their dreams can be realized.
Can you tell us a bit about your family? How do they shape who you are?
I come from a family of doctors. My uncles, cousins, cousins’ children, my brother and my dad are all orthopedics. I grew up going on rounds with my father and even observed a total hip replacement. As I watched the surgery, all I could think was that the patient was not going to feel very well when she came out of the anesthesia. I also grew up with a strong identification with Judaism, Jewish values and Jewish rituals.
I am the oldest of four children and loved playing school. As the oldest, I was always the teacher. I believe that teaching is my calling and not just my profession. I have been a teacher for more than 30 years and have loved every position I have ever held from kindergarten through professional school.
Touro combines all my experiences: from medicine, to Judaism, to teaching.
Where would we find you on the weekend? What are your interests outside of work?
On the week-end, you can find me swimming laps with my husband and romping through Tilden Park with my 12 year old labradoodle Rosie. You can also find me playing a wicked game of Scrabble, both competing as a team with my husband, and playing against my best friend.
Any parting words of wisdom?
The best words of wisdom that I have gotten since arriving at Touro is from a faculty member. I asked him what he had noticed about his most successful students. He said, “My best students develop a study plan and stick to it.”
If you would like to make an appointment to improve your study strategies, overcome procrastination, or develop a study plan stop by her office. You can find her at 690 Walnut, or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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