The University of Northern Colorado hired an osteopathic physician and dean of a medical school campus in Ohio to be the founding dean of the university’s proposed college of osteopathic medicine in Greeley, UNC announced Tuesday.

Dr. Beth Longenecker, currently the dean of the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Athens Campus, will begin her work at UNC in June.

Prior to joining Ohio University three years ago, Longenecker was the associate dean of clinical education at Midwestern University’s Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and the associate dean of clinical sciences at William Carey University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The University of Northern Colorado hired Dr. Beth Longenecker, currently the dean of the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Athens Campus, to be the founding dean of the proposed college of osteopathic medicine in Greeley, UNC announced on Tuesday, April 12. (Photo: University of Northern Colorado/Monica Chapman).

“I am thrilled to be joining the University of Northern Colorado in developing a new college of osteopathic medicine,” Longenecker said in a UNC news release. “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.”

Longenecker will earn an annual salary of $375,000. The funding to support the hiring of the founding dean is coming from external sources including philanthropic support, according to information from UNC. The university has already secured several million dollars from donors specifically earmarked for the college of osteopathic medicine.

During her time as dean at Ohio University Heritage College, Longenecker served as the chief operating and academic officer for the campus. She made community outreach a priority, facilitating the expansion of the college’s community health services to meet local needs during the pandemic. She also led efforts to create a partnership between Buckeye Healthcare and Ohio University Heritage College that resulted in a $750,000 grant to expand community nurse navigator programs that focused on healthy pregnancy and infant vitality.

A student-led clinic providing free primary care to qualifying adults who are uninsured or underinsured also opened under Longenecker’s leadership.

Longenecker served as a program director of the emergency medicine residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center and the Miami Heart Institute from 2005 to 2012 and as program director of the emergency medicine residency at St. Barnabas Hospital in Bronx, New York three years prior to that.

“I am thrilled to have Dr. Longenecker join UNC as the founding dean of our new osteopathic medical college,” UNC President Andy Feinstein said in the release. “This is a monumental day for the university and our community. The experience, wisdom and insight Beth brings from serving in leadership positions at various colleges of osteopathic medicine will be very beneficial for us as we look to get our medical college off the ground and running. I want to thank everyone who participated in the search process for this position – we took our community’s feedback to heart and could not be more excited with the end result, to name Beth as our founding dean.”

As founding dean at UNC, Longenecker will lead the school through development, accreditation and on to the goal of becoming a world-class center of medical education. She will be a foundational leader in building the college’s programmatic offerings in the health sciences.

Longenecker received her doctorate of osteopathic medicine from the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1991, and she received a master’s degree in medical education and leadership from the University of New England in 2016. She earned a bachelor’s degree in musicology from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1987. She became board certified in emergency medicine in 2000.

Longenecker is a member of the inaugural class of the Costin Institute for Osteopathic Medical Educators (2005) and completed the Harvard Macy Institute Program for Educators in Healthcare Professions in 2008.

As the university’s exploration into developing a college of osteopathic medicine continues, Longenecker will develop her team to support the university’s efforts. By proceeding on a well-organized timeline from this point through to completion, UNC hopes to have its first class of students in the osteopathic medical school as early as fall 2025.

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