Walton School of Medicine Hires 4 Assistant Deans, 12 Faculty Members

Walton School of Medicine Hires 4 Assistant Deans, 12 Faculty Members
Clockwise from top left: Dr. Ken Hopper, Dr. Quac-Ahn Thai, Dr. Angela Pierce and Dan Kallenberger (Alice L. Walton School of Medicine)

The Alice L. Walton School of Medicine on Thursday announced it had hired four assistant deans and twelve faculty members as it prepares to welcome its first class of students in 2025.

"I am thrilled to welcome this diverse and dynamic team of AWSOM leaders who are passionate professionals with storied careers educating students and improving care delivery," Dr. Sharmila Makhija, the school's founding dean and CEO, said in a news release. "Each team member brings new perspectives toward the vision to advance medical education by creating a physician of the future who is focused on whole-person health."

The assistant deans are: 

  • Dr. Ken Hopper, assistant dean for health systems science education. As a physician development coach at the Texas Christian University Burnett School of Medicine, Hopper mentored students and created and facilitated curricula on telehealth, value-based care, health finance, psychiatry, team-based care, interprofessional education, ethics, and more. He previously served as National Medical Director of Integrated Care for Anthem’s Government Business Division, where he led the creation and operation of a value-based intensive care management program.
  • Dan Kallenberger, assistant dean of admissions, recruitment and whole health initiation. Prior to joining the School of Medicine, Kallenberger served as the assistant dean for admissions and financial services at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in Rochester, Michigan. During his tenure, he developed and directed a four-year financial wellness program, implemented strategies that reduced student debt, and increased in-state enrollment to its highest level. 
  • Dr. Angela Pierce, assistant dean of whole health integration. Prior to this role, Pierce was a part of the executive leadership team at Kansas City University College of Osteopathic Medicine. As a member of the Department of Curriculum and Integrated Learning, she served in various administrative directorships spanning assessment, curriculum, and student success. She is a Harvard-Macy Institute Health Professions Education Scholar and has completed national fellowships in science policy and advocacy. 
  • Dr. Quac-Ahn Thai, assistant dean for art of healing. Thai is an academic and clinical neurosurgeon who most recently served as assistant professor of clinical neurosurgery at Houston Methodist Academic Institute and Weill Cornell Medical College. He has practiced in a rural solo private practice, integrated community hospital networks, and large tertiary academic universities and trauma centers. He served as the division chief of Johns Hopkins Neurosurgery, National Capital Region, and was also an assistant professor of neurosurgery at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Recent faculty additions include: 

  • Dr. Gagani Athauda, foundational science educator, pharmacology
  • Dr. Lance Bridges, foundational science educator, biochemistry
  • Dr. Lance Forshee, foundational science educator, anatomy
  • Dr. Ayleen Godreau, director, clinical skills
  • Dr. Hector Lopez, director, anatomy lab
  • Sylvia Merino, director of simulation
  • Dr. Ian Murray, foundational sciences educator

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in March for the 154,000-SF school. The 14-acre campus will be on the grounds of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, another creation of Alice Walton.

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