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UTRGV School of Medicine names Ronnau senior associate dean for Interprofessional Education

HARLINGEN, TEXAS – JULY 20, 2015 – Dr. John Ronnau, former dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services at The University of Texas-Pan American, will serve as senior associate dean for Interprofessional Education at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine (SOM).

In his new role, Ronnau will lead the initiative to advance the competencies of medical students, faculty and resident physicians associated with best practices in Interprofessional Education (IPE).

“Dr. Ronnau brings a wealth of experience coupled with genuine caring for our students and the communities they will serve as health professionals,” said Dr. Francisco Fernandez, inaugural dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine. “His credentials are extensive and we are pleased he will be part of the leadership for this exciting new School of Medicine.”

As dean at UTPA, Ronnau oversaw 10 academic units and two centers, 4,300 majors, 100 full-time faculty and 40 staff in disciplines that included nursing, pharmacy, physician assistant, dietetics and social work. During his leadership, Ronnau spearheaded the effort to promote interprofessional education and practice in the college, and initiated several community engagement activities including development of a strong relationship with the County Health Department and an annual conference and community health fair.

Prior to his UTPA experience, Ronnau held numerous academic appointments as a faculty member and administrator, including serving as The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College’s dean of Graduate Studies and vice president for Administration and Partnership Affairs. He earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. in social work from the University of Kansas.

IPE education and practice prepare health professions students to provide patient care in a collaborative team environment. IPE activities in the SOM curriculum will include community-based practice experiences, simulations, small group activities, research projects, seminars and workshops with a special emphasis on learning in colonias via the Ambulatory Interprofessional Medical Experience (AIME) program.

Through AIME, medical students along with other disciplines will learn about population health, health disparities, cultural diversity and culturally competent practice, Ronnau said, and other IPE models of health care practice in the region are successfully underway or will be initiated by the SOM.

“Through interprofessional education, the UTRGV School of Medicine will graduate outstanding physicians who are collaborative leaders, prepared to contribute to effective interprofessional teams and invested in providing leadership on matters of community health,” Ronnau said. “It is the goal of the School of Medicine to not only meet accreditation standards for IPE, but also to be recognized as a national leader in providing health education and health care via interprofessional teams of health care providers.”

The School of Medicine is scheduled to open in fall 2016 and plans to enroll 50 students in its inaugural class. For more about the UTRGV SOM, see:



Marci Caltabiano-Ponce, UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications 
Jennifer McGehee Valdez, UTRGV Director of Media and Public Relations