A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS) celebrated its 25-year anniversary this week. The online celebration included special guests, a timeline video featuring ATSU-ASHS’ past, present, and future, an opportunity to support ATSU-ASHS, and audience participation with tributes and testimonies.
Ann Lee Burch, PT, MS, MPH, EdD, dean of ATSU-ASHS, kicked off the event with the dean’s welcome.
“This has been quite a year and I just want to start off by saying thank you to ASHS faculty and staff for really rising to the occasion and the challenge of COVID-19 over the past 10 months,” Dr. Burch said. “It’s really been remarkable to see people with their tenaciousness and their collaborative determination really come together. None of us could have done that alone. It was really a spirit of teamwork.
Other members from executive leadership took turns offering congratulatory messages to ATSU-ASHS. This included ATSU President Craig Phelps, DO, ’84; Norman Gevitz, PhD, senior vice president, academic affairs; Ted Wendel, PhD, senior vice president, university planning & strategic initiatives; and Clinton Normore, MBA, vice president, diversity & inclusion.
The first dean of ATSU-ASHS, Randy Danielsen, PhD, PA, DFAAPA, professor, director, doctor of medical science program, provided a brief history of the school and explained how ATSU-ASHS evolved from a branch of ATSU’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (KCOM), called KCOM Southwest Center for Osteopathic Medical Education.
“All the students who enrolled in the fall of 1995 signed a letter stating that they knew we were not fully accredited yet. Those inaugural students trusted us to create quality programs and obtain ongoing accreditation. We did not let them down,” Dr. Danielsen said. “We had our first graduation in August of 1997 for physician assistant studies and sports healthcare. In fact, those diplomas bare the name KCOM Southwest Center.”
Reminiscing about the milestones over the past 25 years, Dr. Danielsen said he felt those milestones could be summarized in three categories.
“One, we recruited, and we still do, the best students for our educational programs at a time of enormous need. Two, we hired, and always do, the best faculty and staff to meet the needs of the students and the accreditation standards. Three, we continue to produce some of the best alumni in the country,” Dr. Danielsen said.
Department chairs from the five disciplines of ATSU-ASHS each took a turn providing updates, outlooks for the future, and expressing their gratitude for everyone who has been involved in the success of ATSU-ASHS over the past 25 years. Speakers included Eric Sauers, PhD, ATC, FNATA, professor, chair, department of interdisciplinary health sciences; Tabitha Parent Buck, AuD, professor, chair, department of audiology; Jyothi Gupta, OT(C), OTR/L, PhD, FAOTA, professor, chair, department of occupational therapy; Lori Bordenave, PT, DPT, PhD, associate professor, interim chair, department of physical therapy; and Michelle DiBaise, DHSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, professor, chair, department of physician assistant studies.
The celebration concluded with an opportunity for participants to provide their own tributes and testimonials.
“I think everyone in the room can see the energy, enthusiasm, and the productivity that comes from this group,” Dr. Burch said. “With the 2020 graduation, we now have over 10,000 ASHS alumni all over the country, really making a difference in the lives of others and in our communities for a healthier tomorrow. I couldn’t be prouder to be the dean of this school and to be a part of the community of this school.”
For more information about supporting ATSU-ASHS, visit giving.atsu.edu/ashs-25