By Heather Reifsnyder
Ever since she was a young teenager, Tricia Penniecook, MD, MPH, has wanted to work with Loma Linda University.
Since June 24, her dream has been fulfilled. That is when she became the associate dean for academic affairs in the LLU School of Public Health.
“When the opportunity arose for me to contribute to Loma Linda’s mission with what I have learned from my previous work experience, my family and I asked the Lord’s guidance, and we believe that He wants us to be here,” she says.
Dr. Penniecook replaces Susanne Montgomery, PhD, MPH, who served for two years as associate dean for academic affairs. Dr. Montogmery continues to direct the School of Public Health’s Center for Health Research and works as a professor of health promotion and education.
“My first love has always been research. That’s why I was originally recruited to LLU,” Dr. Montgomery says. “I took the job as associate dean for academic affairs because I wanted to serve where I was needed at the time. But now, with Dr. Penniecook’s hiring, I can return to research.”
David Dyjack, DrPH, CIH, dean of the School of Public Health, says he was disappointed Dr. Montgomery decided to shift roles. But he says he is thrilled with finding Dr. Penniecook to fill the job.
“With both of them working for our School, our team is even stronger,” says Dr. Dyjack.
Dr. Penniecook says her first priority is getting to know everyone in the School of Public Health. Re-accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is next.
“I plan to continue with Dr. Montgomery’s efforts to obtain full re-accreditation for our School under CEPH’s new criteria,” says Dr. Penniecook. “Although we are accredited until 2009, very hard work has been done to revamp our curriculum so it is totally compliant with the new requirements.”
Dr. Montgomery used her training as a researcher to tackle the goal of re-mapping the curriculum and take the School through approximately the first year of the three-year self-study leading to re-accreditation.
“Dr. Penniecook is a gifted administrator who will do a wonderful job as associate dean for academic affairs and with with the remainder of the CEPH re-accreditation process,” says Dr. Montgomery. Dr. Penniecook has a long history of career experience in public health and medicine. For the past five years, she has worked in Montemorelos, Mexico. She has served as the coordinator of the School of Public Health at Universidad de Montemorelos. She has also worked as a professor in the School of Medicine and School of Dentistry at Universidad de Montemorelos, and as coordinator of the preventive medicine and epidemiology department at Hospital La Carlota, in Montemorelos. She also served as an attending physician at Hospital La Carlota’s clinic for students at Universidad de Montemorelos. Dr. Penniecook also has work experience with the Ministry of Health in Limón, Costa Rica, in positions including state health director for the Limón province.
Because of her background experiences in Latin America, Dr. Penniecook says she hopes to help fulfill Dr. Dyjack’s vision to work more closely with the area’s Hispanic community; her bilingual skills will be useful. She is also interested in becoming even more closely connected with the global community by strengthening international programs.
In addition, Dr. Penniecook has a sweeping vision for the education that the School offers to each student.
“I would like to ensure that every student that goes through our school, even if only in one class, comes out having received the best education possible, as well as having had an opportunity to explore a personal relationship with God,” she says.