News and Stories - 2015

Physical Therapy Program combats smoking on campus

PTdayofservice_2015Students and faculty of the College of Health Professions Physical Therapy Program collaborated with members of Upstate’s Tobacco Free Task Force to recognize Global PT Day of Service, Oct. 17, by clearing cigarette litter and distributing smoke cessation coupons on campus. Participating in the event, front row, from left, are Katherine Beissner, PT, PhD, chair of the DPT program; and students Jason Sheehan, Matt Carey, Christopher Herbs, Ema Kraut, Professor Gary Brooks, PT, DrPH, student Lauren Shirley. Health Professions Dean Donald D. Simpson, PhD, MPH. Missing from photograph is Theresa Hankin, RRT, CTTS, tobacco treatment specialist for the Upstate Cancer Center.

Licensing Board taps Bruce Searles

CHP-News-Bruce SearlesThe newly established State Education Board that will oversee the implementation of a licensing track for perfusionists, has tapped Upstate’s Bruce Searles as a member. Searles and then-College of Health Professions Dean Hugh Bonner were strong advocates of the licensing issue which was championed by our local legislative delegation.

SUNY Trustees approve Danielle Laraque-Arena, MD, FAAP, as president of SUNY Upstate Medical University

SYRACUSE, NY — The State University of New York Board of Trustees today (Sept. 10, 2015) appointed Danielle Laraque-Arena, M.D., FAAP, currently chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Maimonides Medical Center and vice president of Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital of Brooklyn, as president of SUNY Upstate Medical University. Laraque-Arena also currently is professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University. Laraque-Arena will be the first woman to lead the university. Her appointment is effective January 14, 2016. Read more.

Donald D. Simpson, PhD, MPH, named dean of the College of Health Professions

Donald SimpsonAugust 2015--The people at Upstate are a key reason why Donald D. Simpson, PhD, MPH, accepted the position as the new dean of the College of Health Professions at Upstate Medical University. “What appealed to me at Upstate is primarily the people—individuals committed to improving the lives of others; faculty and staff seeking innovative ways to deliver curriculum; and students committed to the communities they seek to serve,” he said. To read more, click here.

Physician Assistant Program awarded HRSA grant

July 2015--The Upstate Physician Assistant program has received word that it has been awarded a five-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. Although this is a five-year grant, funding is awarded annually. Year 01 (current) award is $227,737.00. The recommended future support on the Notice of Award is as follows:
Year 2 - $264,978.00
Year 3 - $267, 516.00
Year 4 - $269, 460.00
Year 5 - $269,352.00

This grant focuses on enhancement of the clinical training year for PA students. The plan is to develop a "continuity of care" curriculum during the clinical year that is modeled after the College of Medicine's Rural Medicine Program.

Upstate’s program proposal of a continuity of care experience is modeled after the longitudinal integrated clerkship model of medical education and includes interdisciplinary clinical training for PA and medical students in a community-based team concept with one clinician serving as the preceptor for both students simultaneously. The structure of this unique clinical experience provides students the opportunity to fully engage in continuity experiences with preceptors, patients and families at both the health care delivery and community levels, with a primary goal of practicing team-based medical care as well as recruiting primary care providers to these communities.

Funding from this grant will support a Clinical PA Faculty position, clinical site development and monitoring, educational software, individual licenses for clinical tracking of patient access and quality assurance measures, faculty development and administrative support.

Retiring dean tells what drives demand for CHP grads

July 2015--Two things help explain why the graduates of Upstate’s College of Health Professions will be in high demand for the foreseeable future, according to Hugh Bonner, PhD.

An aging population and the Affordable Care Act both ensure a healthy job market for the physical, radiation and respiratory therapists, the physician assistants and all others with CHP degrees, says Bonner, who is retiring after 20 years as dean of the college.

“Between 2000 and 2030, we will double the population of those 65 and older. We’ll go from essentially 35 million to 70 million people. That population also has a large number of individuals with chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes,” Bonner said in a recent interview for Upstate’s “HealthLink on Air” radio show. To read more of the interview, click here.

CHP Tie-dyed T-ShirtStart Summer Off Right with a Colorful
CHP T-Shirt!

Celebrate the multidisciplinary nature of patient care with a tie-dyed T-shirt. Proceeds benefit the work of the CHP Alumni Association in support of the College of Health Professions. The price of just $15 includes postage and handling. Contact the Health Professions Alumni Office at (315) 464-4416 or or visit us in the CAB - Room 326.

Patricia Duffy retires after 40 years as a member of the Upstate community

Patricia DuffyJuly 2015--An accident she had as a junior high cheerleader that led to multiple X-rays with the help of a kind technologist spurred Patricia (Finocchiaro) Duffy, MPS, RT(R)(CT)’72 into a long, rewarding career. She spent most of her 45 years in radiology at Upstate – 40years to be exact. Two of those were as an imaging student, Class of ’72.  A staff technologist at University Hospital since 1977, Duffy joined the faculty in 1981, becoming assistant director and clinical coordinator. She later served almost a decade as chair and program director, returning to clinical coordinator afterwards. For more about Pat Duffy and the fund established in her honor to enhance MIS clinical education, click here.

Dean Bonner's retirement marks 20 years of progress

Upon the announcement by Dean Hugh Bonner, PhD, that he will retire this summer, the University community reflected on how  markedly improved he leaves the College of Health Professions.

“Hugh Bonner was one of my first administrative hires at Upstate when I first became president in 1995, and I have always  considered it among my best,” said Interim President Gregory  Eastwood, MD. “Dr. Bonner’s imprint on the quality preparation  of our graduates will be felt for years to come.” 

Dr. Bonner guided the College to become a true upper division and graduate institution, reflecting the increase in professionalism and licensure requirements. He helped lead the College toward licensure standards for both medical laboratory technology and perfusion. The MS Physician Assistant program vaulted to one of the state’s best, and the post-graduate DPT provided licensed Physical Therapists an opportunity to earn their doctorate.

A master’s medical microbiology program and new baccalaureate tracks in medical biotechnology, medical sonography, MRI and CT, were also developed. As a result, the College has grown in numbers and prestige – from 200 full-time students in 1995 to more than 400 today. Dr. Bonner helped to secure $4.5 million in federal, state and local grants as well as numerous equipment donations.

His service in national agencies for health education and specialized accreditation has brought national stature to the College. His offices have included: past president of CAAHEP, board member of NAACLS, representative on the Commission of Accreditation for Respiratory Care; and member of the NYS Respiratory Care Licensing Board (10 years). He is a site visitor for the Commission on Accreditation for PT Education.

To develop a dialogue among academic deans and CEOs of nursing and health professions accreditation societies, Dr. Bonner co-hosted national meetings under the auspices of CAAHEP and the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP). He served two ASAHP board terms, and has been an ASAHP Fellow since 2005. In 2010, he received the Darrell Mase Presidential Citation – the society’s most prestigious honor for leadership in allied health education. Dr. Bonner also is a contributing editor for the Journal of Allied Health.

Dr. Bonner’s active role in NY-AHEC (Area Health Education Centers) has strengthened linkages to better meet the needs of rural medically underserved communities. He served on its board since it began in 1997 and was confirmed by Congress to serve on its federal oversight advisory committee. He provided a strong voice for the health professions in regional high schools, colleges and hospitals and he worked to prepare the health professions workforce to serve in these communities.

“Hugh Bonner gave a face to the College of Health Professions and Upstate Medical University,” said Dan Hurley, assistant vice president for Government and Community Relations. For instance, the Dean’s Leadership Coffee receptions for local elected officials and community leaders have been “a valuable conduit to grow relationships and build supporters of the College.”

Dr. Bonner has “walked the walk” in many levels of community engagement, building important relationships on the alumni board and among the over 4,000 CHP alumni along the way. “He has been a staunch supporter and participant at alumni events,” noted Alumni Association President Josie Przepiora: “It has been my pleasure to serve beside him.” 

The CHP Alumni Association wishes Dr. Bonner and his wife Lynnette all the best as they move to Georgia, closer to their daughter, two sons and six grandchildren.


MimiPfeifferThe Alumni Association sends condolences to the family of Mimi Pfeiffer upon her passing on December 6, 2014, at age 58 in Wilmington, NC. Mimi was the association’s first alumni director, leading it from a fledgling group in 1991 into a well-established organization. By the time she retired in 2002, she had nurtured the  group into an active association membership with a strong annual fund campaign supporting 20 annual student scholarships, and two faculty enrichment awards. She  then worked part-time as a communications design specialist for the Upstate Foundation. In 2005, Mimi moved with her husband, Rick, to North Carolina where she  worked at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Mimi is fondly remembered for being an alumni advocate and dedicated Upstate colleague, as well as for  her personal kindness and many talents. She will be missed!

NIH Funded Study Led by PT Educator
January 2014 -- A four-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health to determine treatment for a common flatfoot disorder is being led by Christopher Neville PT, PhD, associate professor of Physical Therapy at Upstate.  Adults aged 40 and older with flatfoot due to Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD) may be eligible to participate in the Upstate clinical trial. The trial will test various ankle braces used to treat the disorder and findings will determine which brace design is most successful to use clinically and will provide insight for future device development. For more information, contact the Motion Analysis Laboratory at 315-464-9966 or




November 2013 -- The College of Health Professions Alumni Association awarded 12 scholarships for the 2013-2014 academic year to entering students who have demonstrated excellence. Each $1,000 scholarship provides needed financial assistance for recipients who will become qualified health care professionals in our communities. In addition, 15 CHP students received a total of $10,000 in renewed scholarships.

Incoming Class of 2015 recipients are:  Melissa Abbate (MT), Spencer Blackman (DPT), Tania Brice (CP), Anna Brothers (RADT), Kelly Carolan (DPT), Joseph Ciciarelli (MBT), Ethan Curtis (RT), Britteny Hasselmayer (MIS), Irena Henry (MIS), Yiming Liu (CP), Brianna Rossi (RADT) and Alex Tabone (RT). 

Thank you to our alumni for making a real difference in these students’ lives! Support our students using the “ways to give” link at or by calling 315-464-4416.



January 2013 -- Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law on October 22 a bill advanced by Upstate Medical University that will create a pathway for all cardiovascular perfusionists to be licensed by 2016. The signing marks the culmination of almost a decade long campaign to make perfusionists the 51st profession to be licensed by the state Department of Education. In addition to local legislators’ leadership, College of Health Professions Dean Hugh Bonner, PhD, and Cardiovascular Perfusion Department Chair Bruce Searles, CP ‘93, both played strong roles in keeping the issue alive. Overall coordination for the activity was handled by Dan Hurley, director of the Upstate Office of Government and Community Relations.

“The law’s passage is significant for setting a legal scope of practice for perfusionists and maintaining patient safety,” noted Searles, who is president of the NYS Society of Perfusionists. “It sets entry-level criteria that practicing perfusionists must now meet in this state.”

Approximately 20 percent of NYS perfusionists are not certified and have no continuing education requirement. “Licensure of perfusionists in New York will set a minimum bar for initial and continuing education for our profession,” said Searles.

Upstate is home to one of only two perfusionist training programs in the state. It is expected that perfusionists will be able to apply for a NY license beginning in 2015 and if they are practicing in state, will be required to have a NY perfusion license starting in 2016.


White Coat Ceremony Welcomes New Students

August 2013 -- Upstate’s College of Health Professions welcomed 161 new studentsto its academic programs that are at, or near, full capacity, during the annual White Coat Ceremony, held August 28. Each new student was welcomed by Dean Hugh Bonner, PhD, President David R. Smith, MD, and faculty,with the presentation of a new white coat, a gift through the Health Professions Alumni Association. Donning the white coat signifies that health professionals not only treat, but also care for their patients, according to Dr. Bonner, who donned his own tie-dyed lab coat, symbolizing the multidisciplinary nature of patient care. Continuing its tradition, Franciscan Companies sponsored a reception for the students and their guests following the ceremony. Respiratory therapy alumnus Joseph Nicoletti, ‘76, represented Franciscan as an invited speaker, and CHP Alumni Association President Josephine Przepiora, MS, MT(ASCP)SM ’10, an MT instructor, also remarked: “You all now have your own white coat, an outward symbol representing the knowledge you will acquire, the skills you will hone and the compassion I suspect each of you already has, otherwise you would not have chosen to enter such noble professions.”

A group of DPT 2016 students pose in new white coats with educator Carol Recker-Hughes, PT, ’79, PhD, (center), including Joshua Hibbert (3rd from right) and his parents.


Dean Hugh Bonner, PhD, donned his own multi-colored lab coat, symbolizing the multidisciplinary nature of patient care during the fall White Coat Ceremony.