SMU Leadership


Ching-Hua Wang

Dr. Ching-Hua Wang became the second president of Samuel Merritt University on Nov. 26, 2018. She works to fulfill the University’s mission and values, with a commitment to improve health outcomes by educating future health care professionals who are highly skilled and reflect the communities they will serve.

As the University’s chief executive officer, Dr. Wang provides stewardship of institutional resources in close consultation with the Board of Regents and Sutter Health.

Under Dr. Wang’s leadership, the Office of the President provides vision and direction to SMU students, staff, and faculty as well as outreach to alumni, donors, government officials, and other external constituents to ensure educational excellence, quality service, and institutional effectiveness.

Board of Regents

The SMU Board of Regents guides the University efforts to sustain its excellence in clinical education and secure the financial resources to meet the University’s needs.  Board members bring a variety of executive experiences in educational leadership, health care, and business development. Together, the Board of Regents and President Wang work to fulfill the University's overall strategic vision by overseeing ongoing improvements to SMU’s facilities and developing academic programs that will meet the health care needs of all communities.


The president’s cabinet develops and implements strategies to advance the mission of the University by enhancing educational instruction, ensuring student success, and creating a culture that is diverse and inclusive. 

President’s Cabinet
  • Fred Baldini—PhD, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Al Frisone—Vice President, University Advancement and Communications
  • Terry Nordstrom, EdD—Vice President, Enrollment and Student Services
  • Greg Gingras, MSB—Vice President, Finance and Administration, and CFO
  • Shirley Strong, MEd—Chief Diversity Officer
  • Cynthia M. Ulman, MBA—Executive Director, Planning and Business Development


Enitan Adesanya, MBA, is president and CEO of Desade Corporation, providing strategic consulting services to health care organizations and land development companies. He brings vast experience managing enterprise business risks and launching strategic, operational, and regulatory risk management services that support organizational goals and objectives. Prior to joining Desade, Mr. Adesanya spent 25 years at Kaiser Permanente, most recently as vice president and risk executive, responsible for operations of Kaiser’s $14 billion shared services of facilities, clinical technology, procurement, security, and medical device data privacy. Mr. Adesanya is a California certified public accountant and a chartered global management accountant. He is certified in ISO 31000 risk management and Lean Six Sigma performance improvement methods.

Mr. Adesanya earned his bachelor’s degree in business finance from Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria and his Master of Business Administration degree from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. He also earned an executive leadership certificate from Harvard Business School.

Brad Barber, JD, is a retired attorney and assistant vice president emeritus for Institutional Advancement at the University of California (UC) Office of the President. Mr. Barber has extensive experience in managing nonprofits, and in planning and implementing fundraising campaigns. In addition to his work with all UC campuses and their foundations, Mr. Barber previously served as senior vice president and chief development officer of Children’s Hospital & Research Center in Oakland (now part of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital). He is currently involved with UC Berkeley as a member of four advisory boards, a visiting scholar at the Center for Studies in Higher Education (since 2013), and chair of the Friends of the Bancroft Library. Mr. Barber serves on the Earth and Life Studies advisory committee for the National Academy of Sciences.

Mr. Barber earned a bachelor’s degree in history from UC Berkeley and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the Boalt School of Law.

Melanie Bell-Mayeda, MBA, is a partner and managing director in IDEO’s San Francisco office, helping lead the Design for Change studio.  Her passion lies in helping organizations reinvent themselves in order to connect with customers in new and meaningful ways. Recently, she led an initiative called “The Powerful Now,” a global project that explored ways to bring creativity and design thinking to the topic of aging. Since joining IDEO in 2007, she has engaged in strategic design projects spanning industries from financial services to manufacturing to consumer services. Ms. Bell-Mayeda has extensive experience in strategy and business development, and in creating high-value partnerships. Prior to joining IDEO, she led LeapFrog’s global licensing business and worked at Virgin Entertainment Group, Booz-Allen & Hamilton, and Morgan Stanley, where she sharpened her skill in applying strategic thinking and financial analysis to the business decision-making process.

Ms. Bell-Mayeda earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Harvard University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School.

Jonathan Brown, DPA, became president emeritus of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities in 2011, after serving 20 years as president and 16 years as vice president. In 2012, Mr. Brown founded a consulting firm specializing in university and nonprofit issues. An expert in higher education finance, Mr. Brown has held leadership positions in several educational organizations including as chair of the National Association of State College and University State Executives.

Mr. Brown earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of the Pacific; completed graduate study at George Washington University (International Relations), Catholic University (Urban Education) and Harvard University (Institute for Educational Management); and holds a Doctor of Public Administration degree from the University of Southern California, where he is currently an adjunct professor.

Elizabeth Chaney, BA, is account executive and regional director for JLL, a global commercial real estate investment and services firm.

Her 30 years of experience includes overseeing Kaiser Permanente’s real estate portfolio transactions and Stanford University Medical Center’s growth. She assists institutional and private sector owners to advance complicated development programs with multiple stakeholders. She has also handled significant programs for the federal government, state of California, Fortune 100 corporations, and leading academic and health care institutions. A recognized leader in health care development, she also participates in teaching at institutions such as Yale University and Stanford University.

Ms. Chaney earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, and is a licensed architect in the state of California.

Sam DavisFAIA, is professor emeritus of architecture at the University of California at Berkeley, where he taught from 1971 until 2009. Other roles he has held at UC Berkeley include interim dean of the School of Social Welfare, interim dean of the College of Environmental Design, chair of the Department of Architecture, and associate dean of the College of Environmental Design. His professional work, as principal of Sam Davis Architecture, has focused on affordable housing, housing for those with special needs, and facilities for the homeless. His projects for Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco include the nation's first housing specifically for homeless youth with HIV and AIDS. Mr. Davis has received design awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Progressive Architecture magazine, and has won several housing competitions. He also received the UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award and the Excellence in Education Award from the AIA California Council. His books include: The Form of Housing, The Architecture of Affordable Housing,andDesigning for the Homeless: Architecture that Works.

An AIA fellow, Mr. Davis earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture at UC Berkeley and a Master of Environmental Design degree from Yale University.

Owen Garrick, MD, MBA, is president and chief operating officer of Bridge Clinical Research, where he is responsible for managing clinical trials, research analytics and investigator training. With a focus on minority health, Dr. Garrick leads the company's research efforts in diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and prostate cancer. He has served on many nonprofit boards, including as past president of the American Medical Association Foundation, and was appointed as a member of the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services Advisory Council on Human Research Protections in 2012.

Dr. Garrick earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, his medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine and his Master of Business Administration degree from the Wharton School of Business.

Jeff Gerard, MM, is Sutter Health's senior vice president of Strategic Services and chief strategy officer. He joined Sutter Health in 1999 as chief financial officer for the Peninsula Coastal Region, served as chief operating officer of Mills-Peninsula Health Services from 2003 to 2008, and in 2008 was promoted to president of the Sutter Peninsula Coastal Region. In 2015, he became president of Sutter Health's Bay Area Operating Unit and joined the SMU Board of Regents. Prior to joining Sutter Health, he worked for Deloitte Consulting, focusing on hospital merger integration, and as an executive with Alta Bates and Davies Medical Centers.

Mr. Gerard earned his bachelor's degree in human biology from Stanford University and his master's degree from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Gloria Harmon, MS, is a retired hospital administrator. She worked for Sutter Health's Alta Bates Summit Medical Center for 33 years in various capacities, most recently as administrative director for rehabilitation, orthopedic, and skilled nursing services. Ms. Harmon has extensive experience in business development, physician recruitment and contracting, strategic planning, systems development, and fiscal oversight. She led the development of the Alta Bates Summit Regional Stroke Center, which received several specialty recognitions and awards. Ms. Harmon has served on several boards and advisory committees for health care and community organizations including the American Hospital Association, Rehabilitation and Long Term Care Section; California Hospital Association, Center for Medical Rehabilitation Services; Western Alliance of Rehabilitation; and the Ethnic Health Institute.

Ms. Harmon earned two degrees in speech pathology and audiology; a bachelor’s from Hampton University and a master’s from San Diego State University.

Anna Kiger, DNP, became an SMU Regent in 2016 after joining Sutter Health as its chief nurse officer. With more than 30 years of clinical and health care executive leadership experience, Ms. Kiger leads Sutter Health’s efforts to advance the safe, high-value and high-quality care provided by nurses, professional and technical staff for the network's 3 million patients. She serves on the editorial boards for the Journal of Nursing Administration and the Journal of Healthcare Risk Management.

Ms. Kiger completed her undergraduate nursing degree at West Virginia University, received master's degrees in business and nursing administration, and earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, School of Nursing, and a second doctorate in public health and health services research from Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Lloyd Leanse, BA, is chief operating officer and a founding partner of Prager & Co., LLC, with extensive experience in investment banking, financial management and business development. He has structured more than $1.5 billion of public and private securities offerings, acquisitions, software licenses and real estate transactions for colleges, universities and technology companies. Mr. Leanse played a key role in structuring and deploying the first service to offer students transparent comparisons in the $6 billion per year private student loan market. He was a member of the board of directors of Tuition Plan Consortium, LLC, a nonprofit company that offers the only nationwide pre-paid 529 college savings plan, and volunteers frequently for arts and other organizations.

Mr. Leanse earned a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford University.

Amber Luther, BA, specializes in higher education planning in the San Francisco office of Populous, an international architecture and design firm. Her background includes planning for high-end residential, education, workplace, healthcare, and mixed-use collegiate and professional sports projects in the U.S., Middle East and Canada. As one of Populous’ thought leaders within the national design community, she speaks at conferences, conducts research on new technologies that support innovative design processes, and publishes papers on innovation in design. Since 2017, she has led Populous’ Campus 2050 initiative studying campus design trends and themes with a consortium of universities including CalTech, Carnegie Mellon, NYU, DePaul, Northwestern, Purdue, and Stonybrook. Her recent work includes University Mary Hardin Baylor Master Plan, SUNY University at Buffalo UB 2020 Plan, Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences Campus Relocation, Bloomsburg Campus Master Plan, the Philadelphia VA Medical Center Master Plan, and a variety of projects with Thomas Jefferson University.

Alvin McLean Jr., PhD, is a professor of clinical psychology, co-director of clinical training, and associate dean in the College of Psychology at John F. Kennedy University. He is also co-owner of a medical specialty home health agency that manages chronic medical conditions in patients’ homes. Dr. McLean joined the University of Washington’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine faculty after completing a post-doctoral fellowship in neuropsychology. His research, publications, and presentations focused on the neuropsychological and psychosocial sequelae of traumatic brain injury, neuro-pharmacology, and care management strategies to improve daily functioning after brain and spinal cord injuries. In addition to his academic work, Dr. McLean has an extensive business background, including developing residential, outpatient and home-based rehabilitation programs for persons with brain and spinal cord injuries. He was senior vice president for Paradigm Health Corporation for over 20 years.

Dr. McLean serves on the boards of San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Bay Area Albert Schweitzer Fellows Program. He is also on the board of Man2Man-Urban Youth Advocates, which provides mentoring, coaching and mental health support to help African American young men from disenfranchised, underserved communities achieve their optimal potential. Dr. McLean is also a musician and has directed the men’s chorus at Allen Temple Baptist Church for 25 years. 

Dr. McLean received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kansas University. He earned his doctorate in clinical psychology and psychophysiology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Gary Morrison, JD, is deputy general counsel emeritus of the Regents of the University of California. He retired in 2002 after 29 years with the UC system. Mr. Morrison served as deputy general counsel and represented UC in the landmark Bakke case, which allowed consideration of race and ethnicity in college and university admissions. He also worked on UC’s response to Proposition 209, which nullified affirmative action in admissions in California.

Mr. Morrison earned his law degree at Stanford University.

Dennis J. O'Connell, BA, spent more than 30 years in the construction, manufacturing, retail and investment businesses, including 10 years with Bechtel Corporation. He has extensive experience as a board member, including with Marin General Hospital Foundation, Marin Community Health, Marin Physician Hospital Organization, and Babcock Foundation. He has chaired the boards of Marin General Hospital and Sutter Health and has been a member of the Sutter West Bay Hospitals and Sutter West Bay Medical Foundation boards. He currently serves on the Sutter Bay board and the board of Bailard, a wealth management and institutional investment firm in Foster City, California. He earned his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from California State University, Chico.

Julie Petrini, BSN, MPA/HSA, is president and chief executive officer of Sutter Health Bay Area Hospitals. Previously she served as chief operating officer for Sutter Health’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.   Her extensive background in health care spans more than 30 years, beginning as a nurse caring for patients at the bedside and including expertise in administration, strategic planning, and operations management. Prior to joining Sutter Health, Ms. Petrini served as senior vice president and chief administrative officer for Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California region, responsible for all operations and support functions. She oversaw operations of 11 medical centers and two hospital rebuild projects, as well as serving as chief negotiator for Kaiser’s regional contract with the California Nurses Association. Currently a trustee of the California Hospital Association, Ms. Petrini has served on many community organization boards, including the Women’s Initiative for Self Employment and the George Mark Children’s House. She was named among the “100 Most Influential Women in Business” by the San Francisco Business Times in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Ms. Petrini earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a Master in Public Administration degree with a concentration in Health Services Administration from the University of San Francisco. She is also a graduate of the Kenan Flagler Business School Executive Program and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

John Swartzberg, MD, FACP, acting Chair of the Board of Regents, is a clinical professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health. Dr. Swartzberg also is the chair of the editorial board of the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, where he has directed coverage since 2001. Dr. Swartzberg directed the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program for more than a decade. Before joining UC Berkeley’s faculty full time in 2001, he spent 25 years in clinical practice. He collaborated on the highly successful Wellness Self-Care Handbook in 1998 and Complete Home Wellness Handbook in 2002. His areas of professional interest are medical education and health-care associated infections.  

Dr. Swartzberg, a fellow of the American College of Physicians, earned his medical degree at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and performed his residency training at the University of Colorado and his postdoctoral fellowship in infectious diseases at Stanford University.

Ching-Hua Wang, MD, PhD, (ex-officio) began her tenure as president of Samuel Merritt University on Nov. 26, 2018. Previously, she served as the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at California State University (CSU), Sacramento. From 2012 to January 2017, she worked as dean of the School of Health and Natural Sciences at Dominican University of California. Between 2001 to 2012, she served as a founding faculty member, chair, program director, and special assistant to the provost at CSU Channel Islands. From 1990 to 2001, she was an assistant, associate, and full professor in Immunology at CSU, San Bernardino. Since 2001, Dr. Wang has led efforts to develop 16 new academic programs, authored numerous peer-reviewed publications, and raised more than $17.3 million in private and corporate funds and $15 million in grants.

Dr. Wang received her medical degree from Beijing Medical College, a master's degree in immunology from Beijing University, and a doctorate in immunology from Cornell University.

Lisa Zuffi, BA, has been senior vice president and relationship manager in the East Bay Regional Office of Presidio Bank since 2011.  She previously worked as head of banking group and senior vice president at One PacificCoast Bank in Oakland and held several positions at Bank of America. In addition to her extensive banking experience, Ms. Zuffi has a background in business and community development, and she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa. She has served on the boards of Oakland’s Lighthouse Community Charter School and the Oakland Business Development Corporation.

Ms. Zuffi earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley.

Centralis black and white


SMU is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). 

Learn More