In this Issue
The first step of the Touro journey for new students has officially been taken with the conclusion of orientation events, which began July 28 and concluded August 1.
Activities were designed to help new students feel welcomed on campus, get comfortable in their new environment, meet some other fellow students, faculty and staff, as well as boost their confidence in what is always a time of great emotion and anxiety for students.
Many new students were greeted on campus by a drive thru parade, where dozens of faculty and staff members waved, rang cow bells, blasted air horns, and distributed small collections of goodies to incoming students.
A Zoom welcome event the next morning introduced the students to campus leadership individuals, including Senior Provost Shelley Berkley, Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Sarah Sweitzer, Rabbi Elchonon Tenenbaum, as well as the deans from the three colleges, and Dean Steve Jacobson from Student Affairs.
Senior Provost Berkley related a story about her orientation at law school saying the Dean told the students, “Turn to your left, now turn to your right … one of you will not be here next year,” she said. “Well that’s not the philosophy at Touro.” Berkley encouraged the incoming students, “You’re the best of the best … you’ve definitely made the right decision.”
Dr. Sweitzer affirmed that thought, telling the students, “Celebrate all that you’ve accomplished to make it to this day.”
New Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Tami Hendriksz, an alumnus of the program herself who once sat through Touro orientation as a student, confirmed what the two provosts explained, telling the students, “I’ve never seen a faculty and administration so dedicated to student success,” crediting the students with their part, as well, saying, “We simply have the best group of students ever.”
Fellow new Dean, Dr. James Scott of the College of Pharmacy, assured the students they weren’t alone in learning about Touro.
“I’m the new guy,” he said. “In fact, I’m so new, I’m not even there yet,” Dr. Scott said in referencing his September 1 start date. “We can all learn together.”
Orientation continued with Q&A sessions new students could take part in with current students, asking specific and directed questions to students who, in many cases, were in orientation just a year or two prior as a new student themselves.
One student, Regina Woo, CMSII, explained a key factor that makes Touro so special to her – and hopefully to incoming students as they progress, as well.
“I want to build community wherever I go and Touro makes that so easy,” Woo said. “The environment at Touro is very collaborative.”
The orientation events weren’t all lectures and wayfinding. The students were able to take part in some games and other fun activities throughout, with orientation wrapping up with a drive-in style movie Sunday night where students viewed a screening of “Hidden Figures” in a parking lot immediately adjacent to campus.
Touro University California (TUC) is pleased to announce Dr. Tami Hendriksz as the new Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Dr. Henriksz is herself a Touro alumnus, finishing her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles before completing medical school at Touro.
Her medical background is that of a pediatrician but she brings a wealth of additional experience and honors to the position.
Dr. Hendriksz has worked at Touro for the last 12 years through a variety of roles, including Vice Chair of the Primary Care Department, Assistant Dean of Clinical Integration, Associate Dean of Clinical Education, and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. She is a Professor of Pediatrics and has been a 5-time recipient of the TUCCOM Teacher of the Year Award.
Dr. Hendriksz also received national recognition as a recipient of one of the prestigious Innovation in Medical Education Awards offered by the Society of Osteopathic Medical Educators, and most recently as a Champion of Humanistic Care by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.
She served as the Editor-in-Chief of the eJournal of the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians for 7 years, and continues to serve on the editorial board of the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Hendriksz has numerous publications and has been an invited speaker at over 30 events across the nation on an array of topics related to medical education, humanism, and pediatrics.
“As an alum and a pediatrician with Solano County Public Health and the Vallejo City Unified School District, Dr. Hendriksz brings a passion for serving our students and our community,” said Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Sarah Sweitzer. “Dr. Hendriksz has served in a variety of leadership positions within the College of Osteopathic Medicine and I know she’ll continue our trajectory of growth in research, clinical partnerships, and community impact as we train osteopathic medicine leaders prepared to serve our diverse communities in 2030.
A beloved figure on campus, Dr. Hendriksz brings a passion for osteopathy, medical education, pediatrics, humanism in medicine and medical training, and physician and trainee wellness to the post.
Touro University California is pleased to introduce the new Dean for the College of Pharmacy, Dr. James Scott.
Dr. Scott joins Touro from Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California, where he is currently a Professor and Associate Dean. Dr. Scott has been with Western for 21 years, and previously worked at D’Youville College, and SUNY, both located in Buffalo. Dr. Scott completed his undergraduate degree, Master’s and his PharmD all at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and his professional career has included stops in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Buffalo. Dr. Scott brings with him a wealth of experience in research, service, education, and leadership.
His research has produced more than 50 scientific presentations, over 30 publications, and hundreds of invited lecturer appearances that have taken him all over the globe. His work specializes in Infectious Disease Pharmacology, with a special focus on HIV/AIDS. His background includes extensive community volunteerism, governmental, educational and professional boards, as well as numerous awards and honors for his work. He is known for working collaboratively with students, staff, fellow administrators, and faculty in the successful planning, implementation, and evaluation of academic, clinical, and administrative initiatives.
Dr. Scott will be responsible for providing vision, leadership, and strategic direction for the College of Pharmacy as well as ensure that its educational goals, research objectives, and service missions are achieved.
“We are pleased to have Dr. Scott join the TUC family,” said Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Sarah Sweitzer. “His extensive background in pharmacy research, education, clinical practice, and professional leadership will serve Touro well as we re-envision pharmacy higher education into the coming decade.”
Dr. Scott’s official start date is slated for September 1, 2021.
Dr. Debbie Sasaki-Hill has been serving as the Interim Dean for the College of Pharmacy since the departure of the previous Dean, Dr. Rae Matsumoto.
Congressman Mike Thompson, representing California’s Fifth Congressional District announced this week that his request for a health care project in Solano County was included in the Fiscal Year 2022 funding package released earlier by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.
That package includes $1 million for the rehabilitation and repair of Truett Hall at Touro University California to allow the school to increase class sizes for their health care programs and better meet the medical needs of the community.
Built in 1927, Truett Hall, centrally located on Touro’s 44-acre Mare Island campus, had previously served as a home for US Navy sailors during both World Wars, as well as an infectious diseases ward.
Once renovated, Truett Hall will house Student Affairs, academic programs, and state of the art healthcare learning laboratory spaces, classroom and study/meeting spaces for students, among other uses. Serving as a hive of student activity, along with its central location on campus, Truett Hall is expected to become the heart of campus.
Since locating to Mare Island in 1999, Touro University has worked to transform this utilitarian military hospital complex to a state-of-the-art training site for future leaders in healthcare, public health, and education.
The Truett Hall renovation will expand that capacity. The 33,000 square foot, three-story building will increase student lab capacity from 45 students to more than 70. The number of ultrasound labs will double from five to 10, and sim lab space will increase from a single room with two practice mannequins to three rooms with two mannequins each.
The building also includes plans for growth into the future, with planned media studios and immersive technology labs with Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality software products that allow students to hone their clinical skills in a controlled and safe environment.
“We are so grateful to Rep. Mike Thompson for his diligence and hard work in helping include Touro in this important funding package,” said Touro Senior Provost Shelley Berkley. “As a former member of Congress myself, I know how daunting a task this can be. This funding will have a major impact on our students, the faculty and the community of Vallejo and surrounding region.”
Renovation of Truett Hall is a key component of Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Sarah Sweitzer’s vision for growth at Touro in the coming decade.
“Completing renovation of Truett Hall will allow us to expand opportunities for students, grow our programs, and allow us to more fully serve our North Bay communities,” Dr. Sweitzer said. “Truett will be at the heart of our next wave of campus expansion and we really owe it’s completion to the funding secured by Rep. Thompson. We’re so grateful to him and his entire staff for working so hard for us.”
Thompson noted the importance of both access and affordability of health care in his support of this funding.
“Ensuring people across our district can access the health care they need at an affordable cost is one of my top priorities in Congress,” Rep. Thompson said in a statement. “The $1 million to Touro University will allow the school to complete important rehabilitation and repairs of Truett Hall which will help increase class sizes and boost the health care programs on campus.”
In 2020 alone, Touro students and faculty served nearly 18,000 clinical hours at the Solano County Clinics, had another 3,300 in volunteer hours in the North Bay and made more than 440 patient visits at the Student Run Free Clinic. In 2021, Touro students, staff, and faculty have been key partners in community school based vaccines, flu vaccines, and COVID-19 vaccinations with over 2,800 volunteer hours and assisting in providing over 25,000 vaccine doses. As a leader in primary care, this renovation funding will allow Touro to expand that effort.
The Director of Student Activities might seem like a fun and enjoyable job – and it certainly can be – but it’s also a very serious and important one.
Students at Touro University California are taking on big responsibilities once they reach their professional lives – taking proper care of those in poor health, teaching generations of young students, ensuring proper medications are dosed right and don’t clash with other prescriptions are just some of the difficult tasks Touro students are tackling.
As such, there can often be a lot of pressure to get things right, to learn things properly, and to study until things are perfect.
That mindset can be very taxing mentally, so the Director of Student Affairs must ensure the students are staying mentally health, are relieving their stress and, dare it be said, having fun at graduate school.
Yvette Elizabeth Carrillo brings a perfect blend of fun and student focus to the position, having recently taken over the post from the previous Director, Winnie Bush.
One of Carrillo’s big strengths is having a foundational understanding of Touro and its students. She has worked the previous five years with Touro’s largest program, the College of Osteopathic Medicine, and has a strong sense of the demands placed on students.
“I’ve worked with students nearly my whole life,” Carrillo said, who came to Touro after a stint as a math teacher.
Gregarious and joyful, Carrillo says the position suits her well.
“I have a great zest for life,” Carrillo said. “I love that this is right up my alley.”
Feelings of self-doubt, sometimes called Imposter Syndrome, are common among students in all of Touro’s programs and can sometimes serve as a roadblock to success.
Carrillo is well-equipped to help students through this issue having experienced it herself.
Prior to Bush taking over the job, Carrillo considered applying for the job then but didn’t. When Bush departed the position, some encouragement from colleagues finally convinced her to apply.
“The students are all so energetic and ready to change the world,” she said. “All we need to do is create the platform to help them do that and I’m looking forward to taking on that challenge.”
One thing this period of COVID isolation has shown her is that there is an opportunity in the coming years, hopefully as COVID diminishes in time, to include a virtual element to in-person events. Student Affairs, for example, is hosting a movie night in a drive-in format at a nearby parking lot.
“Not everyone can make it, or maybe they aren’t comfortable being out in a setting like that, so it would be nice to be able to stream events like that so people can still take part,” Carrillo said.
Carrillo is well-suited to have success both personally and with student achievement in this position, mostly because it doesn’t feel or seem like work to her.
“I’ve been joking with people that it seems like I’m getting paid to enjoy life with the students,” Carrillo said.
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