Institutional Leadership

John L. Hummer, MHA
President & Chief Executive Officer

John L. Hummer is co-founder, executive board director and president of Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine.  He earned his undergraduate degree in economics from Kansas State University under a United States Army scholarship and his master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of Kansas. He has 20 years of executive leadership experience in the private, investor owned, healthcare industry as well as academic teaching hospitals. He held the CEO position in 12 of his 20 years in the hospital industry. He has developed, expanded, and led major hospitals in Las Vegas, NV, Washington, DC, New Orleans, LA, Ft. Lauderdale, FL., Las Vegas, NV and Las Cruces, NM. He is a past board member of The Federation of American Hospitals.

His experiences include several academic teaching hospitals. Hummer completed his administrative residency at Wesley Medical Center, Wichita, KS, a 760-bed teaching hospital for The University of Kansas Medical School. Early in his career, Hummer served as the chief operating officer for an osteopathic teaching hospital in South Florida providing him with an appreciation for osteopathic medicine. He served as the chief operating officer for The George Washington University Hospital (GW) a major teaching hospital located in our nation’s capital.  Hummer led and negotiated all key provisions and shared service contracts between UHS, Inc. and George Washington University (GWU) under the joint venture with GWU.  His professional experience with graduate medical education (GME) and its critical role within hospitals and communities, coupled with his network of hospital relationships, has and will continue to benefit Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine.

John serves on the board of directors for the Borderplex Alliance, the regional economic development organization for Southern, NM, El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juarez, MX. He is a director for First American Bank’s Board of Trustees. He is a past chairman of the board for the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVEDA) and past chairman of the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce. He is also a past president of The Rio Grande Rotary Club.

John and his wife Amy own the largest full service real estate company in Las Cruces – Steinborn Inc. Real Estate offering residential, commercial, property management, development and consulting services.  John and Amy served as co-chairs of Mesilla Valley Hospice’s “Continuing the Dream” Capital Campaign which raised $6.5 million for expansion of hospice facilities.

John, along with his wife Amy and their two sons Alex, and Sam, enjoy New Mexico, active in St. Albert the Great Catholic Church and avid NMSU Aggie supporters.

William Bill Pieratt, DO

William Pieratt, DO, FACP
Dean & Executive Vice President of Academic Services and Chief Academic Officer

Dr. William (Bill) Pieratt serves as Dean and Chief Academic Officer for the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dean Pieratt joined Burrell from Texas A&M’s College of Medicine where he served as the Associate Dean for the Bryan-College Station campus, as well as Interim Department Head for Primary Care and Population Health. In addition, Dean Pieratt served as the founding Physician Director of the A&M Integrated Medicine (AIM) Program. He holds a B.S. in Biology from Texas A&M, Class of 1988, and received his Doctor of Osteopathy from the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1992. He completed residency in Internal Medicine at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in 1995 and is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He was elected as a Fellow of the American College of Physicians in 2010. Dean Pieratt has broad experience in both ambulatory and hospital-based medicine in rural as well as urban settings, in both private and system-based practice.

Dean Pieratt has held various leadership positions in both the practice of medicine and medical education. Dean Pieratt has been recognized for his contributions to medical education as Outstanding Internal Medicine Faculty from numerous College of Medicine classes, as well as the AIM Educator of the Year while he served at Texas A&M.

Jennifer Taylor, MBA
Chief Financial Officer,
Vice President of Administration/Finance

Jennifer joined Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine in January 2015 as CFO, following a career of over 30 years in financial administration and accounting. She began her career in public accounting, and held numerous positions of increasing responsibility at New Mexico State University, culminating in the position of Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration. Following her retirement from this position in 2010, she rejoined NMSU as a faculty member in the Department of Accounting and Information Systems. She holds a Bachelor of Accountancy and an MBA.

Don N. Peska, DO
Interim Regional Dean (Proposed Florida Campus)
Professor, Clinical Medicine

Don N. Peska, DO, MEd, FACOS, Vice President of Academic Development, Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine at New Mexico State University is a highly respected educator and academic leader within the osteopathic medical school profession. Most recently (2018-2020), Dr. Peska served as the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Dean and Chief Academic Officer, and before that (2009 – 2017) Dean of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Ft. Worth Texas (TCOM). He started his academic career at TCOM in 1982 as an Assistant Clinical Professor and was promoted to the positions of Associate Professor, Assistant Dean for Clinical Education, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Dean for Educational Programs. He also served as the Chief Medical Officer for UNT Health. Dr. Peska also served as a Residency Director for Vascular Surgery. Dr. Peska’s honors include: Distinguished Osteopathic Surgeon from American College of Osteopathic Surgeons (ACOS), President’s Service Award from ACOS and the MeadJohnson Fellow in General Surgery. Prior to academia, Dr. Peska had a successful private practice in cardiothoracic and vascular surgery.

Dr. Peska received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Des Moines University, College of Osteopathic Medicine. He obtained his Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Cincinnati (Ohio). He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Biology from Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY. He completed residencies in general surgery and thoracic cadiovascular surgery. He is board certified in general surgery, general vascular surgery and thoracic-cardiovascular surgery from the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery. Dr. Peska is a Diplomate of the National Board of Medical Examiners. He has also served as a member of the Research Advisory Committee of the National Resident Match Program (NMRP) in Washington, DC and accreditation surveyor for the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA).

An accomplished researcher and lecturer, Dr. Peska is a visiting faculty member at the Harvard-Macy Institute at Harvard University. The Harvard-Macy institute is an inter-professional, international incubator for innovators in health care education. The institute takes a collegial “think tank” approach to continuing professional development, bringing together diverse perspectives in health care education. It inspires participants to examine their own assumptions and behaviors in a new light, leading to fresh approaches to their careers and their capacity as leaders of organizational change.

Under Dr. Peska’s leadership at TCOM, he and his team successfully increased the overall class size and established the TCOM Academy of Medical Educators. The Academy provides protected time for faculty to attend to their teaching assignments and brings them together each week for their own development. They participate in a longitudinal curriculum that provides in-depth discussion in the learning sciences and coursework that includes theory, instructional design, assessment, skills training, technology, and other facets of curriculum delivery. Time is dedicated for reflective dialogue on outcomes of recent courses and sharing of best practices. The Academy members were responsible for modernizing and integrating the curriculum. The overall success of the academy and other leadership strategies contributed to achieving excellent outcomes for TCOM’s students and an increase in overall faculty and institutional pride. Since inception TCOM students have exceeded the national means for first attempt passage and total scores on all levels of COMLEX-USA, the licensing board exam required of all graduates of osteopathic medical schools. Additionally, the majority of TCOM students sit for USMLE Step 1 where they also performed at or above the national average of all allopathic medical schools.

Dr. Peska’s Perspective on Medical Education: “Although comfortable with and experienced in clinical practice management and oversight of a modest research enterprise, my core interests are in curriculum and instruction and team development. The application of evidence-based principles of learning to medical education has enhanced institutional effectiveness at TCOM. With several complimentary degree programs on the health science center campus and in the community TCOM has successfully partnered internally and externally to promote inter-professional practice. Our team has been invited to present its strategies and outcomes in the United States and overseas.” – Don N. Peska, DO, MEd, FACOS

H. Eduardo Velasco, PhD, MD, MS
Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

Dr. Velasco oversees the academic elements of the DO program, the Associate Dean for Clinical Education, the Associate Dean for Evaluation and Assessment, and the Director of the Library.

Dr. Velasco received his MD degree from Mexico’s National University (UNAM), his Family Medicine Specialist degree from Mexico’s Technology Institute (IPN), a Master of Science in Health Systems from Mexico’s School of Public Health and a PhD in Epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University. He practiced family medicine for 14 years, after which he embraced a career in public health research and medical education. At his former job with Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health/School of Public Health of Mexico, he held leadership positions as Chair of two Departments (Health Policy Analyses and International Health; and Public Health Genomics), as well as Deputy Director for Academic Development. From 2006 to 2011, he was a tenured Professor of Epidemiology and Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs at Morgan State University, where he oversaw the graduate and postgraduate Health Sciences programs. He has been funded to conduct research on migrant health, health information systems and program evaluation, as well as on cervical cancer screening programs, and Type 2 diabetes mellitus. He has served as a grant reviewer for HRSA, OMH and CDC study sections and as a consultant for WHO/PAHO. He is currently national faculty and Chair of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Section for the National Board for Osteopathic Medicine Examiners. He has taught courses on research methods, biostatistics, epidemiology, and scientific writing. He served as Associate Dean for Preclinical Education and Professor at Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine for 11 years, where he chaired the Student Promotions Committee and the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Anti-Racism (IDEA) Committee and served as the Director of the Wellness, Academic Achievement, Resiliency, and Mindfulness (WARM) Program and as a member of the Provost’s Academic Leadership Team.

Jeff Harris
Associate Vice President of Administration &
Chief Information Officer

Jeff Harris joined Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine from the Las Cruces Public Schools, where he served as the Executive Director of Technology Support Services for the 2nd largest school district in New Mexico.  His career has been focused on the design and development of large scale data systems and the use of technology to enhance education. He has previously held leadership positions with NMSU, Region 19 Education Service Center (Texas), and in several large consulting projects across New Mexico & Texas with his firm Harris & Associates Technology Group, LLC. His recent focus has been leveraging technology for staff, student learning, and building safety systems.  He is the Past-President and an Emeritus member of the NM Council of Higher Education in Computing and Communication Systems (NM-CHECS) and a board member of the New Mexico Technology in Education (NM-TIE) group that hosts the largest educational technology conference in New Mexico.  He is an Electrical Engineering graduate of NMSU and a long-time resident of Las Cruces.

Oliver W. Hayes, DO, FACEP
Associate Dean of Graduate Medical Education
Professor of Clinical Medicine, Emergency Medicine

Dr. Hayes is a nationally-known authority on clinical education of medical students and medical residents. He joins Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine from the Genesys Healthcare System in Grand Blanc, Michigan, where he serves as the Designated Institutional Official and is accountable for the accreditation and operation of their graduate medical education programs, that is, residency training. Dr. Hayes has written extensively on development of graduate medical education and has been instrumental in the development of hundreds of new residency training positions in the US. Dr. Hayes is board- certified in emergency medicine and also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health Administration.

Mary Lacaze, MD
Associate Dean of Community-Based Learning & Social Accountability
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine

A biography for Dr. Lacaze will be provided soon.

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Charles Metzger, MD
Associate Dean of Clinical Education
Associate Professor, Clinical Medicine

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Nina Nuñez, MAEd
Associate Vice President of Enrollment Services and Institutional Effectiveness & Title IX Coordinator

Nina Nuñez, MA Ed. joined the College in 2016 as an inaugural staff member and is currently the Associate Vice President of Enrollment Services and Institutional Effectiveness. She also serves as the College’s Title IX Coordinator. In her current role, she provides primary leadership in matters related to enrollment services, compliance, accreditation and institutional assessment.

Ms. Nuñez has a Master of Arts in Education degree with emphases in Curriculum and Instruction and Technology Education, which was earned from New Mexico State University. She was a founding faculty member for the first early college high school in the state of New Mexico where she taught multiple mathematics and engineering courses. Ms. Nuñez also held an adjunct faculty appointment with the Dona Ana Community College where she taught mathematics and aerospace technology courses. She is a recipient of the Dr. Sandra K. Nakamura Professional Development Excellence award and was a finalist for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. She served as a panelist for the National Science Foundation where she was able to utilize her expertise in reviewing large scale grant proposals in their Advanced Technologies in Education program. Her initial role for the College was serving as an Educational Specialist where she developed and implemented a student support program for students. Ms. Nuñez also supported faculty, staff, and students as the College’s learning management system administrator.

As an Associate Vice President for the College, Ms. Nuñez is able to utilize her over twenty years of educational expertise to provide strategic leadership on enrollment services and institutional assessment related activities. Ms. Nuñez has recently been named a Harvard Macy Scholar.

Erica Hughey, MBA
Chief Diversity Officer

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Joseph Benoit, PhD
Assistant Dean-Research & Professor of Physiology

Joseph N. Benoit, Ph.D. is Assistant Dean for Research and Professor of Physiology & Pathology. His career as an academic spans more than thirty-years, and has involved working at all levels ranging from the professoriate where he has held faculty appointments at five medical schools to graduate school dean with campus wide authority to president of a Benedictine liberal arts college. His early research centered on microvascular physiology, vascular smooth muscle regulation and lymphatic physiology. In recent years, he has devoted his efforts to new and emerging medical schools where his work involves curriculum design, building research infrastructure, faculty development, and teaching. Dr. Benoit has published more that 200 papers, abstracts and book chapters. He has been invited to speak on his scholarly work in the U.S., Canada, Japan, China, Europe, and Australia.

Dawn Leake, SHRM-CP
Assistant Vice President of Human Resources

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Marcy Oxford, PhD
Assistant Dean of Curriculum Effectiveness & Evaluation &
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Medical Education

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Vanessa Richardson, MAEd
Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs

Vanessa Richardson, MA Ed. joined Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine in early 2016 during the inaugural opening with an extensive background in STEM education and curriculum development. She comes from Las Cruces Public Schools where she worked as a Health Science, Medical Terminology, Microbiology, and Anatomy & Physiology teacher as well as a Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Advisor. Her career has been focused on the advancement of the design and development of Health Science curriculum within New Mexico public schools. As the Literacy Design Collaborative Science Representative, she developed and assisted faculty in the implementation of the Common Core Standards for Science for the state of New Mexico. Her endeavors led to receiving a High Schools That Work grant for the Las Cruces High School Pre-Nursing Pathway.

She has a passion for advising and mentoring new teachers and students; forging their health science career paths. This passion was recognized by the academic community when Ms. Richardson received the “Outstanding Educator” award while working with the Hawaii Department of Education as well as a Teacher of Year nomination with Las Cruces Public Schools.

Ms. Richardson is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer where she worked as a Rural Health Advisor and aid worker in Southern Armenia and Northern Iran. While there she taught classes in reproductive health in extremely impoverished areas as well as courses in basic finance for women. She collaborated with NGOs for funding of community projects, conducted child development seminars, and taught literacy classes specifically for woman and girls in the area.

She has over sixteen years of teaching experience and has degrees in both the Biological Sciences as well Education with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction. Ms. Richardson has recently been accepted into the Harvard Macy Institute Course: A Systems Approach to Assessment in Health Professions Education and will attend this Spring.

Gabor Szalai, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean of Faculty Affairs & Professor of Biomedical Sciences

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