Celeste Villanueva

Celeste G. Villanueva, CRNA, EdD, FNAP is Associate Professor and Assistant Academic Vice President at Samuel Merritt University and a Distinguished Practitioner and Fellow of the National Academies of Practice. Dr. Villanueva’s educational background includes degrees from the University of California, Irvine (BS, Biological Sciences) University of California, San Francisco (BS, Nursing), Columbia University (MS, Nurse Anesthesia) and Pepperdine University (EdD, Learning Technologies). Her 30-year career as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) includes 17 years in clinical practice and 22 years as an educator and higher education administrator. 

Prior to coming to SMU, Celeste served as the Chief Nurse Anesthetist at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco. Since joining the SMU faculty, she has served as the Associate Director and Director of the Program of Nurse Anesthesia (1996 - 2012), the founding Director of the Health Sciences Simulation Center (HSSC, 2006 - 2016), served on the Provost’s leadership team since 2012, and was appointed Assistant Academic Vice President in 2016.

An early adopter and pioneer in healthcare simulation, Celeste has championed the full range of immersive learning approaches, particularly simulation-based learning (SBL), throughout the University since 2001. Her vision, leadership, and commitment to innovative and effective learning approaches that leverage emerging technologies is credited as the driving force behind the HSSC, which opened in 2006. Under her direction, the HSSC garnered its reputation as a leading edge, vibrant, learning nexus and in 2016 achieved full accreditation status by the International Society for Simulation in Healthcare. She has published and presented extensively on simulation topics and has ongoing research studies related to SBL.

Dr. Villanueva has administrative oversight of the Hthe HSSC, Academic and Instructional Innovation, SMU Libraries, and the Center for Innovation & Excellence in Learning. She is responsible for faculty development across the University, and shares accountabilities for SMU’s emerging interprofessional education program with Dr. Michael Negrete.

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