Regents welcome medical college dean, honor late president

Tomkowiak-80PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University’s medical college will bear the name of its initiator and strongest champion, the late WSU President Elson S. Floyd.

The WSU Board of Regents this morning approved a proposal to change the name from the College of Medical Sciences to the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. The board also welcomed the announcement of Dr. John Tomkowiak, a veteran of community-based, inter-professional medical education, as the inaugural dean of the college.

“I was able to communicate our intention to President Floyd before his passing, and he was very grateful and humbled by the naming,” Board Chair Ryan Durkan said. President Floyd died June 20.

Dan Bernardo, WSU’s interim president, submitted the naming proposal.

“No one worked more tirelessly to expand medical education in Washington State than Elson Floyd,” he said. “We continue marching toward making his dream a reality to benefit Washingtonians for generations to come.”

Following approval of the naming, Bernardo shared with the board the appointment of Dr. Tomkowiak as the new college’s inaugural dean. He will begin to assume his responsibilities in early October.

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Dr. John Tomkowiak

“Dr. Tomkowiak brings the perfect combination of experience and expertise to the position of inaugural dean,” Bernardo said. “He was instrumental in establishing and sustaining community-based medical education in Florida, New York and in Illinois, which will be critical to our success in developing that model in Washington. John also has been successful in working inter-professionally with his counterparts in the other health professions, including pharmacy and nursing.”

Lisa Brown, chancellor at WSU Health Sciences Spokane, said, the new dean’s professional background aligns well with several specific programs on the Spokane campus.

“Dr. Tomkowiak’s background as a psychiatrist complements the behavioral health and addiction research already occurring at WSU Spokane,” said Brown. “It will also align well with the new psychiatry residency program that will be in the soon-to-open Spokane Teaching Health Clinic, whose goal is to increase medical residency positions in Spokane.”

Tomkowiak says he is eager to get started.

“Completing our accreditation preparations is the top priority,” he said, “but connecting and developing the relationships with our valuable partners in the health care industry, the WSU main campus, the regional campuses, other universities and communities around the state is also important. Those relationships will be the key to the medical school’s long-term success.”

Currently, Tomkowiak serves as dean of the Chicago Medical School, president of the Rosalind Franklin University Health System and the executive vice president for clinical affairs for Rosalind Franklin University. Over the course of his career, he has been involved with many successful accreditations with the Liaison Committee for Medical Education, the primary accrediting body for medical schools in the United States.

Tomkowiak has been instrumental in the success of four community-based medical schools. Two of those institutions had regional campuses and his current school is in the process of developing a regional campus. Two of the four schools also had a primary care mission. He also was a part of the team that created the new medical school at Florida State University.

He started his academic career at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine where he was the director of the second year of the curriculum as well as the director of the geriatric education program. At Florida State, he served as the education director for psychiatry, as well as the director of the third and fourth year curriculum.

In his first tenure at Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University he served as the associate dean of education, director of simulation and facilitator for the University Strategic Plan. In addition he served as the acting dean. At New York Medical College, he served as the vice dean for medical education as well as the director for inter-professional education development for Touro College and University. He rejoined Chicago Medical School in 2013.

Dr. Tomkowiak has won numerous awards including the Nancy C.A. Roeske MD Award for Excellence in Medical Student Education; U.S. Department of Justice Award for Public Service; and the Illinois FBI National Academy Associates Citizen of the Year Award. He is a member of the Alpha-Omega-Alpha Honor Society in Medicine.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and completed his M.D. and residency training at Southern Illinois University of Medicine. He is a professor of psychiatry and board certified in general psychiatry. He holds a Masters of Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University.

Dr. Tomkowiak is married to his wife, Sherri, who is a practicing psychiatrist. They have four children.


Kathy Barnard, University Communications, (509) 335-8055,