POMONA >> For only the second time in its 40-year history, Western University of Health Sciences inaugurated a new president Saturday.
The pomp and circumstance marked a ceremonial fresh start for Daniel R. Wilson — who assumed the duties of president in July 2016 — and for nearly 1,000 incoming students.
Students and their families filled Fairplex Exposition Hall to honor the start of a new school year, with speeches by alumni, faculty, friends of Wilson and state Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino.
Wilson began his speech by honoring the university’s accomplishments since Philip Pumerantz founded it in 1977 with an inaugural class of 36 students.
Pumerantz led the university until 2015,
“Four decades ago, Phil said there are two ways to get to the top of an oak tree,” Wilson said. “One is to sit on top of an acorn and wait. The other is to start climbing. And climb he did, and climb.”
Western University is now home to 3,800 students, with a second campus in Lebanon, Oregon.
Wilson’s undergraduate degree is in anthropology, an unusual choice for an aspiring doctor, and he went on to earn both a master’s from the University of Iowa College of Medicine and a doctorate in biological anthropology from Cambridge University.
He celebrated the impact Western Univeresity has made over the last 40 years, noting that there are 1,000 graduates in the area who will each see patients 100,000 times over their careers. But Wilson and other speakers who knew him from his previous positions emphasized the importance of a humanistic education.
He quoted from a 1959 lecture by C.P. Snow that bemoaned the split between science and the humanities, before listing technological initiatives the university will continue.
“Our main mission remains three priorities,” Wilson said. “Education, education and education.”
Prior to his stint as president, Wilson was most recently vice president for Health Affairs and dean of…