New President Named at Samuel Merritt University

Oakland, Calif. (September 28, 2018) — Dr. Ching-Hua Wang has been selected to be the next president of Samuel Merritt University (SMU), an affiliate of Sutter Health. The appointment was announced by Jonathan Brown, the chair of the SMU Board of Regents. 

Wang will assume the position on November 26. She succeeds Sharon Diaz, who announced her retirement earlier this year after serving for 36 years as the University’s first president. 

Currently serving as provost and vice president for academic affairs at California State University, Sacramento, Wang brings a wealth of experience to SMU.

“Throughout her distinguished career, Dr. Wang has demonstrated impressive leadership and a passion for education,” said Brown. “We considered many highly qualified candidates for the position. In the end, Dr. Wang’s extensive experience and commitment to student success made her an excellent choice to lead SMU into the future.”

Before joining Sacramento State, Wang served as dean of the School of Health and Natural Sciences at Dominican University of California, where she was also a professor of immunology and microbiology. 

Wang was one of the original 13 faculty members recruited to start California State University Channel Islands in 2001. She served as director for the Bridges Stem Cell Research Training Program, chair of several health science programs, and director of the Master of Science in Biotech and Bioinformatics program as well as special assistant to the provost.

“I am honored to be chosen to lead Samuel Merritt University and advance its goal of educating students to become highly skilled practitioners who will improve the health and well-being of so many people,” said Wang. “As someone long committed to advancing the health sciences, I am inspired by SMU’s history of academic excellence and its vision of reducing health disparities in underserved communities. I look forward to joining such a dedicated community of students, staff and faculty.”

Wang’s journey to academic leadership is compelling. A native of Beijing, she was sent to a small village in Inner Mongolia as a teenager to get ‘re-educated’ during the turbulent period of China’s Cultural Revolution. Separated from her family, she worked in the fields and served as an elementary teacher at a one-room schoolhouse where her students came from impoverished families. She has said that those years of hardship taught her about resilience and the value of education.

After earning a medical degree from Beijing Medical College and a master’s degree in immunology from Beijing Medical University, Wang received a doctorate in immunology from Cornell University.

Samuel Merritt University is an affiliate of not-for-profit Sutter Health’s integrated network, which features more than 50,000 doctors, employees and volunteers in Northern California. 

“Dr. Wang’s poignant personal journey demonstrates the profound role both education and service play in our communities,” said Sarah Krevans, president and CEO of Sutter Health. “I’m confident that she will inspire the entire SMU community to continue making a life-changing difference for the students, patients and families we are privileged to serve across Northern California.”  

For more information, contact: 

Debra Holtz, Samuel Merritt University, 510-409-7936,


Samuel Merritt University has been educating students since 1909 to become highly skilled healthcare practitioners who positively transform the experience of care in diverse communities.  More than 2,000 students are enrolled at SMU campuses in Oakland, Sacramento, and San Mateo as well as in online programs.  The University offers bachelor’s degrees in nursing; master's degrees in nursing and physician assistant; and doctoral degrees in nursing practice, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and podiatric medicine.  Samuel Merritt University is affiliated with Sutter Health, a not-for-profit network providing comprehensive health care in more than 100 Northern California communities. For more information, visit


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