Institutional Leadership

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 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.

Don N. Peska, DO
Vice President of Academic Development

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

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.

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.

Jeff Harris
Assistant 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.

Adela Lente, MD
Associate Dean of Clinical Education &
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Surgery

Dr. Lente is a board-certified general surgeon who joined Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2015 as a founding member of the faculty. Prior to joining the College, she provided acute care surgery, trauma services, and specialized in providing health care in under-served areas of the Southwest. As a female Native American surgeon, she is well-versed in the needs of underrepresented minorities and in addressing those needs.

Before joining the administrative leadership at Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine she served as the founding chair of surgery and is the general surgery clerkship director at the College. This experience as well as knowledge of the health care needs in the Southwest have been instrumental in developing the clerkship relationships between Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine and the medical community, fulfilling the needs of education in the clinical years of the College’s medical students.

Dr. Lente has a broad background in multiple aspects of healthcare. Before attending medical school, she was a board-certified pharmacist and worked in retail, hospital and mail-order pharmacy. Additionally, she completed a healthcare policy fellowship in 2018. She grew up in Isleta Pueblo where her family still resides.

Justin McHorse, MS
Assistant Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion

Justin McHorse is originally from Taos Pueblo, NM, where he graduated from Taos High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College where he double majored in Native American Studies and English. Upon graduating from Dartmouth, Justin participated in the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers at Phillips Academy Andover.

After his summer in Andover, MA, he served as the Assistant Director of Admissions at Proctor Academy in Andover, NH, and then as the Diversity Outreach Coordinator for The Advent School in Boston, MA. Justin then headed to West Lafayette, IN, to study at Purdue University. He graduated with a M.S. in Education with a specialization in Higher Education Administration.

Following his graduate study at Purdue University, Justin accepted a position offer from Cornell University where he served as the Assistant Director of Diversity Programs in Engineering. One of his noted roles was as the advisor for the university’s chapters of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).

As it was always one of Justin’s goals to return to his home state of New Mexico, he welcomed the opportunity to serve as the Director of the American Indian Program at New Mexico State University (NMSU). As the director, Justin strived to provide a positive climate that supports the recruitment, retention, and graduation rates of American Indians in the pursuit of a higher education.

To highlight one Justin’s accomplishments as the director, he played a key role in facilitating the construction and completion of the American Indian Student Center at NMSU, which opened its doors in early 2011. Upon being satisfied that he contributed to the advance of the American Indian Program for the benefit of the students, Justin was open to new opportunity for growth and advancement.

In 2015, Justin joined the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine team as the Assistant Dean for Multicultural Affairs, Marketing and Communications. In his role, he employs the use of cultural knowledge and humility to help Burrell College establish a culturally diverse, supportive and inclusive environment where students, faculty, staff and administrators are valued members of the community. As of 2020, Justin continues to promote the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion to sustain a sense of belonging for all as the Assistant Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion.

Nina Nuñez, MAEd
Assistant Vice President for 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 Director of Compliance and Institutional Assessment. In her current role, she provides primary leadership in matters related to 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 the College’s Director of Compliance and Institutional Assessment, Ms. Nuñez is able to utilize her twenty years of educational expertise to provide strategic leadership on assessment related activities and oversee the use of assessment results for institutional improvement and effectiveness. Ms. Nuñez has recently been recently been named a Harvard Macy Scholar and will attend the Harvard Macy Institute Course: A Systems Approach to Assessment in Health Professions Education in the Spring of 2020.

David Osborne PhD
Assistant Dean of Pre-Clerkship Curriculum
Professor of Physiology

David. Osborne, PhD. was raised and educated in North Carolina. He is a whole animal Physiologist, with a research interest in Gastrointestinal Physiology. He is an active member of the American Physiological Society (APS) with primary affiliations with the Teaching Section and the Gastrointestinal Section. He is a founding member of APPEL (Affiliation of Professional Physiology Education Leaders), which is an organized group of Physiology course directors dedicated to the preparation of students for professional service such as medicine and dentistry. Dr. Osborne received his Bachelor’s Degree from Elon University with Majors in Biology and Chemistry, Master’s in Biology degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and his PhD. in Physiology from East Carolina University School of Medicine. Dr. Osborne, completed two post-doctoral fellowships, Wayne State University and Louisiana State University- Shreveport before taking a position as assistant professor at the University of West Georgia (UWG). Dr. Osborne has 30 years of research and teaching experience

Dr. Osborne joined Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine (BCOM) as Professor of Physiology, after being a founding member of the faculty that developed the El Paso campus of Texas Tech Health Sciences Center (Paul L Foster School of Medicine, PLFSOM) into a free standing four-year medical school. Dr. Osborne was instrumental in developing the physiology curriculum and driving the integration of basic science disciplines with clinical application. Before his tenure at PLFSOM, Dr. Osborne developed and managed (15 years) a very successful Pre-Health professions program at UWG. In this capacity, he developed the Pre-Medical, Pre-Dental, Pre-Physical Therapy and other health professions development programs. Dr. Osborne brought his extensive program development expertise to BCOM as Chair of the Physiology and Pathology Department. In 2017, Dr. Osborne was appointed as the Assistant Dean of Preclinical Curriculum and now oversees the curriculum for OMS years 1 and 2.

Dr. Osborne’s research focus is two-fold. The focus of his scientific research has been to investigate the factors that influence the normal growth of the intestinal epithelial cell lining. His research has applications related to understanding Colon Cancer and in pursuing the successful use of intestinal transplants following removal of the intestines. Dr. Osborne has demonstrated the influence of polyamines, nicotine and various hormones on the normal regulation of intestinal epithelial cell growth. He characterized the concept of “ischemic tolerance” in the intestines in response to repeated oxidative injury. His other focus is in education research where he has been investigating more effective methods to deliver complex scientific concepts to naive and experienced students. Most recently, Dr. Osborne has been investigating the use of the “Flipped Classroom” in application to medical education. This method involves pre-recorded material and other learning tools for students to study and learn before coming to class. Class time is then used to help the students apply their new knowledge to real word situations. This allows the educator to correct student’s misconceptions and the students to incorporate correct information in their knowledge base for future applications. Dr. Osborne had been a prolific presenter of his research at national meetings since 1987.

Marcy Oxford, PhD
Assistant Dean of Evaluation and Assessment &
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Medical Education

A biography for Dr. Oxford will be provided soon.

Thank you for your patience.

Vanessa Richardson, MAEd
Executive Director 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.
Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences & Assistant Dean of Faculty Affairs

A biography for Dr. Szalai will be provided soon.

Thank you for your patience.