In this Issue
Touro University California has the bittersweet task of announcing the retirement of the Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine (TUCOM), Dr. Michael B. Clearfield. Dr. Clearfield has been in his position as the COM Dean since 2006 and has presided over the creation of more than 2,000 physicians in that span.
Dr. Clearfield’s final day with the university will be July 31, 2021, at which point he will retire to Texas to be closer to his children and grandchildren.
TUCOM was TUC’s first program and the medical school has grown into a formidable force nationally under Dr. Clearfield’s leadership.
During an online celebration of Dr. Clearfield’s career, TUC staff and faculty, Touro College and University System leaders, leaders in the Osteopathic profession, fellow researchers, past colleagues, his family, friends and numerous current and former students joined the zoom celebration to offer memories and well wishes for his future.
Dr. Alan Kadish, TCUS President, credited Dr. Clearfield with TUCOM’s growth and success over the years.
“I’ve known Mike for about 11 years and in that time it’s been an absolute pleasure,” Dr. Kadish said. “What Mike has built at Touro University California – not always in the easiest of circumstances – has been truly amazing, and he’s done it with dedication, civility, and with real concern about the students, real concern about the profession of osteopathic medicine, and it’s just been amazing to watch and to benefit from.”
Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Sarah Sweitzer noted that just under two-percent of all Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine nationally have come from Touro, but that over 11-percent of articles and studies in the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine are attributed to TUCOM.
“You put TUCOM on the map nationally,” Dr. Sweitzer said. “You leave large shoes and hearts to fill. I’m so happy for you but already missing your presence.”
Student-doctor Samaneh Bolourchi echoed that sentiment while speaking on behalf of students both past and present.
Student Doctor Bolourchi noted the number of students that have passed through COM in Dr. Clearfield’s time at Touro and, citing the average patient-load for a typical doctor, suggested, “You have been indirectly responsible for the care of more than 2.4 million patients.”
Dr. Clearfield’s presence on campus resonated beyond the confines of TUCOM and that impact was expressed by Campus Rabbi Elchonon Tenenbaum.
“I have gained in so many ways from you,” Rabbi Tenenbaum said. “My interactions with you have been very formative, and they will stay with me.”
Dr. Clearfield downplayed his importance with the type of humility and dry humor for which he has become so well-known around campus.
“I really have no idea who you’re talking about, but they sound great,” Dr. Clearfield said.
He said the college and the university are both well-positioned to move forward in the future, expand and affect the world in positive ways for years to come, which is the exact thing that brought him to Touro.
Dr. Clearfield explained that he wasn’t entirely sure he would accept the job as Dean at Touro but owes his arrival at the school to an interaction with Dr. Bernard Lander, Touro College Founder and original President.
“In just a one hour meeting with (Dr. Lander) he so inspired me,” Dr. Clearfield said, with Dr. Lander telling the future Dean, “Help me change the world.”
Upon hearing that, Dr. Clearfield said, “I felt like I had no choice but to join him.”
Dr. Rolly Kali-Rai, Assistant Dean of Students and Associate Professor within the College of Pharmacy, has been selected by Touro University California’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Council to be the university’s new Director of Inclusion.
Inclusion, which entails the inherent value and dignity of each individual, intellectual inquiry, discovery, and passion for life-long learning is a pillar of TUC’s campus values and Dr. Kali-Rai is looking forward to advancing the university’s mission in this area.
“It is my duty to provide integrity, compassion and my work skills and training to bring together groups of individuals as a unified compassionate community in this position,” Dr. Kali-Rai said. “I am excited at this opportunity to serve.” In this position, Dr. Kali-Rai will work to develop and implement strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion plans and efforts that advance the University’s mission and vision. He will collaborate with key University constituencies and will directly supervise the University Equity Officer to deploy University equity programs, practices, and services. Applicants for the University Equity Officer Position will be evaluated and interviewed by a diverse workgroup shortly.
When schools around the country resume in the Fall, it is likely that students will be returning to the classroom to some degree or another – whether fully or in some hybrid of in-person/remote learning format.
Whatever the format different school districts settle on, the period of remote learning foisted upon school systems throughout the nation showed that teachers require more support when it comes to digital classrooms settings.
Dr Michael Barbour, an Associate Professor of Instructional Design with the College of Education and Health Sciences at Touro University California says that many teachers might possess some knowledge of software and technology, but employing those tools in order to teach and maximize their effectiveness for student success is an entirely different situation.
When remote learning went into effect around March and April of 2020, school districts scrambled to offer the best support they could under the circumstances, and to teach classes online as best as could be done in a hurried fashion, but the necessary haste exposed some flaws that could be addressed to make remote learning a better experience for teachers, students and parents.
“We taught them how to use the technology (but) we didn't teach them how to learn with the technology,” Dr. Barbour said. “We didn't teach the parents how to support their kids in that technical environment, in much the same way with teachers, we taught them how to use the tools. We didn't necessarily teach them how to teach with the tools.”
Teachers who graduated from TUC’s Innovative Learning program prior to the pandemic report in an anecdotal way, much greater success in utilizing the digital format than those teachers with traditional teaching backgrounds.
Students, also had their own struggles. While it seems younger people have a more intuitive grasp on technology, they often only have a utilitarian understanding as it relates to their own needs – like how to edit and post TikTok videos, not necessarily how to most-efficiently search for information on Google.
“Unfortunately, because there is this myth that they (students) do understand this, we actually don't teach them how to do a lot of these skills,” Dr. Barbour said. From the time students start kindergarten they are taught how to succeed in school, which has always meant how to succeed in a classroom setting, not a virtual one.
“Think back to last fall, did your school provide your students with an orientation on how to learn in the online environment . . . what their day might look like?” Dr. Barbour said. “Like what, typically when they're not in their scheduled Zoom classes, what the rest of their day should look like?”
Programs like Innovative Learning equip teachers with the skills to not only utilize technology, but how to apply it in a classroom setting – either in person or online – in ways that maximize student success.
That might seem like a minute note given that most schools will likely go back to an in-person setting this Fall. However, even when things return fully to a “new normal,” millions of students will still be getting some of their education digitally, Dr. Barbour said.
Certainly that is partially due to some parents being reluctant to return their children to in-person schooling initially, or there might be a range of other considerations related to health and safety that inhibit a parent from wanting their child fully back in school.
But it is mostly due to the fact that online learning was a big part of the school setting before COVID hit, going back as far as 1991.
Anywhere from five to eight percent of students got some portion of their education online prior to COVID and Dr. Barbour expects that number could perhaps even double, meaning up to 10 million students nationwide could learn either partially or fully online starting in the Fall.
Online learning isn’t simply the student equivalent of a remote work environment for adults. To be a place where students can thrive, Dr. Barbour says, among other considerations, “Online learning requires purposeful instructional planning . . . a systematic model of administrative procedures and . . . careful consideration of various pedagogical strategies.”
One of the first things longtime Vallejo residents tell you about the city is that it’s one of the most diverse in the nation.
As such, the concepts of inclusion and representation are important to Vallejo native and recent Touro University California Graduate School of Education graduate Faustino Cadiz. Cadiz states his “why” in education is to promote opportunities for others. “For me, it has always been about making sure my young leaders have access to create a better future for themselves and others in their community. I believe that Diversity is Reflectivity.”
Cadiz served as the student speaker for the GSOE commencement and spoke about the importance of those concepts, but also about the importance of igniting and sharing passions with others, which is what drove Cadiz to teaching.
“Developing my passion for integration of perspectives and merging my love of assisting others drew me to the field of Education,” Cadiz said. He began in Vallejo as a marching band coach, substitute, later earning his multi-subject credential and then his Masters at Touro. Teaching and mentoring students in the community where he was once one of those very same students is a point of pride and a way to uplift the often misunderstood and overlooked community.
“I am proudly born, raised, and currently work in Vallejo,” Cadiz said. “I firmly believe that individuals have a duty to support “their” identified community,” he said, adding, “We need to learn from the past, realize the mistakes, uplift what makes it special, and promote awareness of our community history. Focusing on being part of a community that constantly is downtrodden will not change the community; focusing on how to enhance the beauty and artistry that needs to be highlighted that come from our area will bring that change.”
Cadiz sees that as a path forward not only in Vallejo but across the country.
The United States is often expressed in the Latin phrase, E. Pluribus Unum, with the “unum” part seemingly always at the front of many people’s minds. We are “one nation” after all. However, the first part of that expression, “from many” is where the real strength in our nation lies, Cadiz said.
“We each come from different backgrounds and life experiences. The beauty of our country is the individualism that takes place and the perspectives that we are allowed to share with one another. With that, our education system needs to be aware and open to the collectivism that other cultures share as well,” he said.
“What we need to do in our education system now is to provide access to students, especially at younger ages, to see how they can use their privileges to help others and make a more inclusive world for all - not just in Vallejo, not just in the Bay Area, not just in California, not just in the United States, but for our society,” Cadiz said. “That is why it is important to me that students are critical about learning and being proud of themselves and their education, especially those in our community.”
Touro University California is working with a webpage design firm and a content creation company in an effort to overhaul TUC’s website.
The current site, originally designed in 2012, has become dated in its appearance and the numerous additional pages added since that time have made the site cumbersome for end users.
Much of the current website’s content that is meant for internal audiences, like current students, faculty and staff, will transition to intranet sites like CampusGroups and TouroOne.
What will remain on the updated site will be information primarily aimed at potential and incoming students, as well as community partners.
The intent of utilizing services from a web design firm and content creation company was to improve and update the overall appearance and functionality of the website, what web developers often refer to as User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI).
Working simultaneously with these two firms on different aspects of site functionality will help assure the form and function work together as harmoniously as possible. As “less is more” approach to content is aimed at making the new site as intuitive to navigate as possible, allowing visitors to access the information they need in as few clicks and with as little scrolling as possible.
Keeping content as streamlined and cohesive across all pages will be a significant focus of George Gantzer, TUC Web Manager.
“By keeping an active voice persistent throughout the website we will speak directly to our audience and engage them from the place of a single and not divided university,” said Gantzer.
There is no firm date for the launch of the new site but project coordinators are hoping to unveil the new website as close to the Fall term as possible.
One of the main goals of the redesigned website is making it easier and more efficient for prospective students to locate the information they need to move forward in the enrollment process as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
The Office of the Provost and the Center for Innovative Learning and Teaching (CILT) announced that the first annual TUC Outstanding Teaching Award will go to two recipients; Dr. Pamela Redmond of the Graduate School of Education, and Dr. Chitra Pai of the College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“All of this year's applicants were truly outstanding teachers, so it was a difficult task for the selection committee to determine the inaugural winners for this award,” said Dr. Jim O’Connor, Director of the Center for Innovative Learning and Teaching, Western Division Touro University California, in a statement.
Both Dr. Redmond and Dr. Pai will receive a $1000 award as well as a plague commemorating this honor. Furthermore, a permanent plaque, which will be placed in Lander Hall, will include their names as the first two recipients of the Outstanding Teaching Award. They will also be honored on Employee Appreciation Day on June 18th. Both Drs. Pai and Redmond will be part of a TCUS system-wide webinar on July 28th at noon (PST).
Last month, CILT honored Drs. Gloria Klapstein, Carinne Brody, and Elena Lingas for innovations in course/curriculum design.
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