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- UNC Takes Key Steps Toward Osteopathic Medicine Degree Program
UNC made progress in exploration of creating a college of osteopathic medicine this spring. On March 17, Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 56, legislation that allows the university to offer specialized degree programs in osteopathic medicine. The bill was passed unanimously through the House and Senate, receiving bipartisan support.
“I am grateful that our community, state legislators and Governor Polis share in our belief that more healthcare professionals in Colorado are needed and that a new medical college at UNC would go a long way in addressing the physician shortage that exists,” said Andy Feinstein, UNC president.
On April 12, UNC announced the selection of Dr. Beth Longenecker as the founding dean of the proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Longenecker, who will start her position in June, brings a wealth of experience in osteopathic medical education to UNC, both as a physician and administrator at higher education institutions.
“I am thrilled to be joining the University of Northern Colorado in developing a new college of osteopathic medicine,” Longenecker said. “It is evident that we have the support of regional partners such as Banner Health, fellow osteopathic physicians, members of the Greeley community and colleagues across the university. This sets the stage for us to create a program that will inform and empower the next generation of physicians, enabling them to join the team of healthcare professionals in serving the people of Colorado with empathy and compassion.”
As the founding dean, she will provide key leadership in creating the business plan for the college, developing program curriculum, supporting work to secure start-up funds and collaborating with partners to secure additional commitments for clinical placements and residencies. Longenecker will also lead the university through and manage the accreditation process with the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA).
The university’s decision to pursue a college of osteopathic medicine came after research and conversations with key stakeholders and based on the findings and recommendations from a donor-funded feasibility study. It stems from UNC’s desire and unique ability to meet the critical and growing demand for doctors across the state and region, particularly in rural and underserved areas.
The university must raise approximately $150 million through philanthropy, state support, partnerships and other sources. Once fully operational, the college is planned to be completely self-sustaining.
- President Feinstein Highlights Togetherness and Growth in State of the University
During the annual State of the University Address on Sept. 8, UNC President Andy Feinstein, along with several other university leaders, reflected on the challenges over the past year brought on by the pandemic and the importance of working together to overcome those challenges.
While acknowledging that the university has had to make some tough decisions to ensure as normal of a return as possible this fall, Feinstein said, “There is nothing better than being back together. It may sound cliché, but it is heartfelt and true — a UNC education is enriched by the relationships that form on our campus. Togetherness is an important characteristic that distinguishes UNC from other universities — and that’s never been more true than it is today.”
The value of working together was illustrated through numerous accounts of faculty and staff going above and beyond to ensure student success is at the core of UNC’s daily work. That includes the ongoing administrative efforts to end years of deficit spending to be able to invest in the future of UNC’s students and employees and through the university’s continued efforts to develop and strengthen relationships within the Greeley community. Feinstein also recognized and applauded the perseverance of UNC’s students through a very difficult and challenging time.
During the address, Feinstein spoke about last year’s accomplishments and plans currently in progress that advance the university’s priorities identified in Rowing, Not Drifting 2030, UNC’s 10-year strategic plan.
- UNC Launches Website Celebrating Initiative to Become a Hispanic Serving Institution
This year, UNC’s annual celebration of Latinx Heritage Month was coupled with an institutional commitment to better serve the growing population of Hispanic/Latinx-identifying students as the university took an important step in launching a new website, affirming their intention and progress toward becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI).
“President Feinstein championed UNC’s pursuit of HSI designation and that is exactly what we needed to move forward,” Tobias Guzmán, Ed.D., vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, said. “As a university committed to putting students first, we recognized that we have some work to do to ensure we’re serving and promoting the success of all of our students.”
UNC is currently in Phase 2 of its five-year plan to become an HSI and Guzmán expects the website will grow and update as planning efforts continue. His hope is that it provides people with a better understanding of the significance and importance of what becoming an HSI means, not only for UNC but also for Weld County and communities across Colorado, as well as giving people the opportunity to become involved in and help support the process.
- HULAC Chosen as Winchester Distinguished Scholar
David Hulac, Ph.D., a professor of School Psychology in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, has been chosen as the 2022 A.M. and Jo Winchester Distinguished Scholar by UNC’s Faculty Research and Publications Board.
The award, which recognizes demonstrated continued excellence in scholarly activity at UNC for at least five years, comes with a $2,000 monetary award and the designation as an A.M. and Jo Winchester Distinguished Professor for the rest of the honoree’s time at UNC.
Hulac’s research examines classroom management processes that teachers use. His most recent book, published with Amy Briesch of Northeastern University is Effective Classroom Management: An Evidence-Based Approach. Most recently, his research has focused on the effects of fidget devices and exercise stability balls on classroom and student behavior and academic achievement. Over the past five years, several devices like fidget spinners, cubes and putty-like substances have been created with claims that they help promote focus and reduce anxiety. Hulac’s research has generally found that student on-task behavior, as well as their academic performance, is lower when they use these devices.
- Bows and Blazes — Music Students Tune Up Their Community as Volunteer Firefighters
Taber Land chose to attend UNC for one reason: to become a better violinist.
“I have a strong interest in classical composition. I’m interested in writing in my own voice, so I want to become a composer,” Land said.
That requires him to pick up his bow and practice fast passages and rhythms whenever he can. But playing an instrument isn’t the only intense activity taking up Land’s spare time. Alongside playing beautiful music, Land also helps battle raging fires that span hundreds of acres at a time.
To earn an income while he’s not in school, Land worked for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources the past two summers, responding to field fires. He brought those skills back to Colorado and the Galeton Fire and Protection District, just 15 minutes from UNC’s main campus, where he somehow fits in helping community members in need between coursework, rehearsals and recitals.
“The job is exciting. There have been calls where I was an important part of the response. Even though I’m not the most certified, it’s still really helpful to have more people there to respond to an emergency,” Land said.
Though the juxtaposition of creating beautiful melodies and fighting back hot flames would normally put Land’s college experience in a category of its own, he actually has a fellow Bear and violinist, Katherine Muser, experiencing the same contrast.
- National Leader Takes the Helm as Vice President for Student Affairs
Cedric Howard, Ed.D., is UNC’s new vice president for Student Affairs. Howard, who was selected through a national search, started his position on Dec. 6, 2021.
“This position is an important part of my leadership team and works across the university to ensure that students have a holistic educational experience best prepared to contribute to their growth and development no matter where they are in their academic journey,” said UNC President Andy Feinstein. “In Dr. Howard, UNC gains a proven, student-centered leader and another advocate for our students. He truly embodies our common commitments to being a Students First institution.”
Howard brings more than 25 years of higher education experience to UNC. In addition to his leadership roles at State University of New York (SUNY) Fredonia and the University of Washington Tacoma, he has also held positions at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Weber State University, LeMoyne-Owen College and University of South Florida St. Petersburg. His professional honors and awards include the National Association of Student Personnel Administration (NASPA) Pillar of the Profession Award (2019), the national NASPA Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Dean/VP (2018) and the regional NASPA Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Dean/VP Region V (2014).
- Alumni-led Production of “Rent” Gives Students a Taste of Broadway
In the early 2000s, two eager Theatre Arts majors had their eyes set on New York’s biggest stage. Taking dance course after dance course and performing in multiple student productions, Jason Veasey ’02 and Aléna Watters ’03 achieved that dream, using the skills they perfected on campus and eventually showcasing them on Broadway.
Veasey has been cast in “The Lion King” on Broadway, the musical’s national tour and has performed in other off-Broadway productions, as well as on-screen TV roles since graduating with a bachelor’s in Musical Theatre. Watters, Veasey’s fellow classmate and long-time friend, has seen her own share of success on the stage. Her Broadway credits include “West Side Story,” “Sister Act” and “The Cher Show.” While the pair has checked off some major career goals, they’ve never forgotten where it all began.
“We have been talking for years about wanting to create the opportunity for UNC students to really be abreast with how the industry is moving forward,” Watters said.
Last fall, the duo shared the knowledge they’ve learned with current students, as Veasey directed, and Watters choreographed UNC’s production of the popular Broadway musical “Rent.”