August 2020
Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Alumni,
Thank you for your hard work, innovation, problem solving, and unwavering commitment to the College of Medicine; and my special thanks to our clinical partner affiliates for their support in welcoming our third and fourth year students back to clinical sites. I am amazed at how much we have accomplished under the ever-changing circumstances we all continue to face. 

Highlights since March 2020:
  • May 2020: Virtual Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony
  • June 2020: Submission of LCME Action Plans
  • July 2020: 
-New systems-based integrated Peer Instruction (PI) M1 curriculum implemented
-Class of 2024 Virtual White Coat Ceremony and awarding of the Deans’ Leadership Award
-New COM Curriculum Committee operationalized
  • August 2020: All classes in full session, M1 thru M4
Visit the Curriculum Change Initiative website for more information on our new M1 curriculum and all Actions voted upon by the new COM Curriculum Committee.
The LCME Secretariat met with the College on July 21, to review and provide guidance on accreditation action plans. This was an important step in preparation for the limited site visit scheduled February 22-24, 2021.  In the coming months, the COM will be preparing an LCME Briefing Book, conducting a mock limited site visit, and surveying the student body, all in preparation for the limited site visit.
The 2020 Dean’s Leadership Award was awarded not to an individual, but to the COM students, faculty, staff, and administration in recognition of and to commemorate an unprecedented and exemplary year of teamwork. An outstanding keynote address was delivered by a student, faculty member, staff member, and an administrator representing the collaborative roles of each team member.
Both on and off campus, we anticipate welcoming some new faces in new roles and seeing some familiar faces in new roles. Organizationally, changes have been made to meet the needs of the new curriculum and LCME expectations, and to emphasize our commitment to continuous quality improvement. These include:

  • New basic science faculty to enhance the pre-clerkship educational program
  • New leadership in the areas of: data science and strategic planning, clinical faculty relations and clinical partner collaboration, medical education oversight and management
  • New clinical and Rootstown based department chairs
The year 2020 remains a year of pandemics, one of health care and wellness and one of social justice and equality. Both share chaos, uncertainty, and yes, resolve. Together, we will continue to accomplish what would have previously seemed unimaginable. I hope you take a moment to read about all the exciting things happing in the College of Medicine!

With sincere thanks,
Elisabeth H. Young, M.D., FACP
Dean, College of Medicine
Keynote Speakers
Carmen Javier
Class of 2021
June Yun, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Integrative Medical Sciences
Joann Hayes
Manager of Curriculum Initiatives
Doug Moses, M.D., ('95)
Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Admissions
Faculty Gonfalonians
Selected to represent the collaboration of basic and clinical sciences
Sonja Harris-Haywood, M.D.
Clinical Associate Professor,
Family and Community Medicine
Associate Professor, Integrative Medical Sciences
Jesse Young, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Anatomy and Neurobiology
M2 Student Coaters
Selected to represent the College of Medicine based on their
leadership and commitment to the University
Ali Arif ('23)
Negin Khosravi ('23)
Matt Kubina ('23)
Sanjay Jinka ('23)
Rachel Krevh ('23)
Ali Syed ('23)
AuBree LaForce and Cynthia Pathmathasan, Class of 2021, serve as delegates at the AAFP national conference
Joshua Tidd, Class of 2023,
named to the Board of Trustees

Stacey L. Barrenger, Ph.D., has joined the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry. As a mental health services researcher, her work examines the intersection between the mental health system and other social problems: criminal justice involvement, homelessness, substance use, social exclusion, and poverty. Dr. Barrenger will be teaching in the College of Medicine. 

Sebastian Diaz, J.D., Ph.D., joins the College of Medicine’s Dean’s Office of Academic Affairs as associate dean of quality initiatives. He provides leadership for the data science team and oversees strategic planning and continuous quality improvement strategies as they relate to college accreditation and curriculum.
Nancy Gantt, M.D., has been appointed interim chair of the Department of Surgery. As a clinical department chair, Dr. Gantt will provide oversight for faculty appointments, promotions, and evaluations for surgery clinical faculty. She is actively involved in mentoring NEOMED students serving as the Surgery Interest Group Advisor, Association of Women Surgeons medical student chapter advisor, and the M4 surgical specialty advisor.
Kristen Knepp, Ph.D., joins the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Knepp will teach across multiple behavioral science content areas in the Introduction to Clinical Skills and Patient, Physician, and Community modules.

Linda Lawrence, M.D., joins the College of Medicine Office of Academic Affairs as the associate dean of clinical affairs.
As associate dean of clinical affairs, Dr. Lawrence will ensure the needs and expectations of the clinical sites are managed with a collaborative and shared value philosophy. She will work strategically with clinical faculty and partners to optimize relationships and meet accreditation expectations.

Randon Welton, M.D., joins NEOMED as the Margaret Clark Morgan Endowed Chair of Psychiatry following a national search.

Dr. Welton will be responsible for providing administrative leadership and developing a shared departmental vision for the Department of Psychiatry. This includes collaboration with the University and College’s strategic plans and addressing student mental health. He will oversee the three centers of excellence and will work with department faculty to enhance the research portfolio.
Arthur Coulton, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Integrative Medical Sciences. Dr. Coulton will serve as the basic science dyad leader in the new M1 curriculum for the Human Architecture and Composition (HAC) and Cardiovascular, Pulmonary and Renal (CPR) modules. He is also an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Mount Union.
Feng Dong, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Integrative Medical Sciences (IMS). Dr. Dong will serve as the basic science dyad leader in the M1 curriculum for the Flora, Pathogens, and Defense (FPD) module.
Erin Franks, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. Dr. Franks will be teaching developmental biology in the M1 curriculum as well as assisting in the Modern Anatomical Sciences graduate program.
Sonja Harris-Haywood, M.D., has been appointed interim associate dean of curriculum integration in the College of Medicine Office of Medical Education.
Dr. Harris-Haywood will oversee the development of curricular content and integration for the pre-clerkship curriculum. She will serve as module dyad leader for the HAC and CPR modules. In addition, she will also provide student success and advising for URM/URIM students in the Urban and Social Justice Pathways.
Susan Nofziger, M.D., has been appointed interim associate dean for experiential education.

Dr. Nofziger provides leadership and oversight of clinical experiential content, development and integration. She supports the M3 and M4 clerkship and elective curriculum to ensure student success and to meet accreditation expectations.

John Crow, M.D., has stepped down as chair of the Department of Surgery to assume greater responsibilities at Akron Children's Hospital, where he currently serves as associate chief medical officer, director of the Paul and Carol David Foundation Burn Institute, thyroid program surgical director and the Bruce F. Rothmann, M.D., chair of pediatric surgery.

Dr. Crow is a 1985 graduate of the College of Medicine and clinical professor of surgery. We thank Dr. Crow for is service as chair and his continued commitment to NEOMED and the College of Medicine.
Gary Niehaus, Ph.D., professor of Integrative Medical Sciences, will retire at the end of August after 35 years of service to NEOMED.

Dr. Niehaus began his career at NEOUCOM in 1985 as an assistant professor of physiology. His early research focused on pulmonary pathophysiology secondary to smoke inhalation, hemorrhage, blunt trauma and sepsis.

Later, Dr. Niehaus established a multidisciplinary research focus group and collaboratively developed a liquid crystal based pathogen detection technology, which resulted in 15 patents. This research led to the development of Crystal Diagnostics, where Dr. Niehaus is the chief scientist. In 2008, he was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Research Award.

In addition to his research, Dr. Niehaus has taught numerous courses in the COM curriculum and most recently served as course director for Physiological Basis of Medicine (PBM).

We thank Dr. Niehaus for his years of teaching, research and service to the COM and the University.
Ryan Palmer, Ed.D., has stepped down from the role of associate dean for medical education in the College of Medicine Office of Medical Education.

Dr. Palmer began at NEOMED in May, 2018 and was instrumental in the planning and development of operations related to the new peer instruction curriculum. He was an active participant in the 2019 LCME site visit and served as a lead on the new M1 curriculum implementation team.

We thank Dr. Palmer for his many contributions to the College of Medicine.
Terriann Crisp, Ph.D.
Director, Graduate Studies
Associate Professor, Neurobiology and Pharmacology, 1987-2001

John Fink, M.D.
Professor of Surgery, 1984-2020

E. Jay Wheeler, M.D., Ph.D.
Senior Associate Dean, Academic Affairs, 1975-1983

Please send any COM faculty and staff tributes to Jennifer Lint,, so that they may be shared in future communications.