George E. Kikano, MD
Vice President for Health Affairs, Central Michigan University
Dean, College of Medicine

George Kikano

George E. Kikano, MD, became dean of the CMU College of Medicine in July 2015, and CMU vice president for Health Affairs in August 2018. As vice president for Health Affairs, Dr. Kikano is responsible for the unification of all CMU health-related programs, functions and clinical services as well as aspects of regulatory compliance, quality, information security, and privacy. He also serves as chairman of the board of CMU Medical Education Partners.

Dean Kikano is passionately committed to teaching, community partnerships, access to care and the College’s mission to educate diverse students and train culturally competent physicians to provide comprehensive health care and services to underserved populations in Michigan and beyond. Before joining CMU, Dr. Kikano was the Dorothy Jones Weatherhead professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. He served as the chairman of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University for over 12 years.

Dr. Kikano received his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine degrees from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. He completed his residency in Family Medicine at University Hospitals of Cleveland. He is Board-certified in Family Medicine and earned Certified Physician Executive credentials at the American Association for Physician Leaders.

Dr. Kikano remains a practicing family physician. He is the recipient of several awards and was recognized as a Health Care Hero by Crain’s Cleveland Business. Dr Kikano has been active in many professional organizations and is a former President of the Academy of Medicine of Cleveland and North East Ohio. He is an active leader and board member for many regional organizations and initiatives. He has published more than 50 medical articles in peer-reviewed journals and has been an investigator on several federal grants focusing on education and research. Dr. Kikano also has been involved in international projects related to primary care sponsoring educational conferences in Lebanon, coordinating exchange programs in Ukraine, and most recently teaching and establishing major research initiatives in China.

Tina Thompson, PhD
Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

Tina ThompsonDr. Thompson is the Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at CMU College of Medicine, appointed in June of 2017. Prior to that, she served as the Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Mercer University School of Medicine and also served there as a professor of neuroscience. She received her Ph.D. from Texas Christian University and completed postdoctoral work at Brown University in Rhode Island and UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas. A Michigan native, Dr. Thompson provides a wealth of leadership and academic experience to the College of Medicine and is happy to have returned to her home state to further the CMU College of Medicine’s mission.

Edward E. McKee, PhD
Senior Associate Dean of Research

Edward E. McKeeDr. McKee oversees research and research facilities for the CMU College of Medicine. He also leads the research efforts and has combined the efforts of faculty in Saginaw and Mount Pleasant. He joined CMU College of Medicine in 2011 as professor and chair of Foundational Sciences. He received Bachelor of Science degrees in biology and biochemistry from Pennsylvania State University. He received his Ph. D. in physiology from the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine. Following post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Connecticut Health Science Center and the University of Colorado, he accepted a faculty position in biochemistry at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science/The Chicago Medical School. He later was appointed associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend. McKee is active in the team-based learning community and has presented internationally and nationally on the subject.

Manuel R. Rupe, JD, PhD
Senior Associate Dean of Legal Affairs

Manuel RupeDr. Rupe is the Senior Associate Dean of Legal Affairs at CMU College of Medicine and joined the College in 2020. Dr. Rupe provides oversight for all legal matters related to the College. Dr. Rupe previously served as Vice President and General Counsel at CMU (2009-2020); Senior Assistant General Counsel/Associate General Counsel and Special Assistant Attorney General at the University of Colorado (2006-2009), where he worked primarily with the Denver and Health Sciences Center campuses (now the Anschutz Medical Campus); Assistant General Counsel at Ferris State University (2001-2006); and Associate Attorney at the Kreis Enderle law firm (1998-2001) in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Dr. Rupe earned a Doctor of Philosophy (2005) in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University’s College of Education; a Juris Doctor (1998) from DePaul University College of Law; and a Bachelor of Arts (1995) from Kalamazoo College. Dr. Rupe is a member of the American Health Lawyers Association and the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA), and served on NACUA's Board of Directors (2016-2019). Dr. Rupe has also served as a member of various NACUA committees and as a speaker, moderator, and session coordinator for numerous conference sessions on diverse higher education legal topics.


John Blebea, MD, MBA
Chair of Surgical Disciplines

John Blebea, M.D.Dr. John Blebea is the Central Michigan University College of Medicine Surgical Discipline Chair and Professor of Surgery. Dr. Blebea is a respected and well-known vascular surgeon who most recently has served as Director of the Vascular Surgery Fellowship Program and a professor in the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. he earned his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University and an M.B.A. from Lake Erie College. In the past, he also served in various faculty and leadership positions, including at Case Western Reserve-University Hospitals, Temple University College of Medicine, Hershey Medical Center and University of Cincinnati Medical Center. In 2008, Dr. Blebea was named in American College of Surgeons' "Surgeons as Leaders".

Kathleen Meert, MD
Chair of Pediatrics

Kathleen Meert, M.D.Dr. Kathleen Meert is a Professor and Chair of Pediatrics at Central Michigan University, College of Medicine. She is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in Critical Care Medicine and practices in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital of Michigan (CHM). She completed medical school at Wayne State University (WSU) and pediatric residency and critical care fellowship in the Detroit Medical Center. Dr. Meert is an avid clinical researcher. She has been a Principal Investigator for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Collaborative Pediatric Critical Care Research Network (CPCCRN) since its inception in 2005. Through the CPCCRN network, Dr. Meert conducts multicenter clinical trials to improve outcomes of critically ill children and understand the pathophysiology of critical illness and injury. Dr. Meert has mentored many trainees and junior faculty at CHM and other institutions. Dr. Meert has served on the National Advisory Committee for the NICHD Pediatric Critical Care and Trauma Scientist Development K12 Program since 2010, and as a study section member for the NICHD Pediatric Scientific Review Group. Dr. Meert has previously served as President of the WSU School of Medicine Faculty Senate, and a past Chair of the WSU pediatric institutional review board.

S. Sethu K. Reddy, MD, MBA
Chair of Medical Disciplines

S. Sethu K. Reddy, M.D.Dr. Sethu Reddy is Professor and Chair of Medicine at Central Michigan University College of Medicine. He has previously been Chief of Adult Diabetes at Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard, in Boston and Chairman of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism at Cleveland Clinic and a VP for Medical Affairs at Merck. He completed his undergraduate education at Memorial University of Newfoundland and postgraduate training in Endocrinology & Metabolism at University of Toronto and in Molecular & Cellular Physiology at Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston in 1988. Dr. Reddy has been actively involved in numerous clinically relevant projects with AACE since 1996 and is currently on the Board of Trustees for the American College of Endocrinology. In 2007, he received the distinction of Mastership in the American College of Endocrinology.


Beth Bailey, PhD
Director, Health Services Research

Beth BaileyBeth Bailey, PhD, joined the College of Medicine in 2019 as a Professor and the Director of Health Services Research. She has held research director positions at other medical schools including East Tennessee State University, and most recently, the University of Colorado. A developmental psychologist and statistician/epidemiologist by training, Dr. Bailey’s area of research is maternal child health, especially pregnancy substance use and rural health disparities in this population. She serves on expert panels and grant review study sections for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the March of Dimes (MOD). She is frequently invited to speak at national conferences and events and has over 100 peer reviewed publications in scientific journals. As a research director, she has mentored dozens of other researchers, and has developed additional expertise in clinical research methodology, leveraging electronic health information and surveillance data for research purposes, and research compliance. Dr. Bailey’s research on addressing tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use during pregnancy is internationally recognized, as is her work on the health and developmental effects on children of prenatal exposure to tobacco, alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and opioids. Her work has involved both traditional clinical longitudinal studies and epidemiologic and population based efforts involving electronic health data, and state and national databases. She is currently the Principal Investigator on an NIH R01 multi-site study examining the impacts of electronic cigarette using during pregnancy. She is conducting pilot work and pursuing larger scale funding to examine specific health and developmental impacts of prenatal exposure to newer forms of marijuana and to medication assisted treatment drugs for opioid addiction. She views her research as ultimately focused on improving the health and wellbeing of women and children, especially those experiencing health disparities, living in rural areas and/or impacted by addiction.

Judy S. Blebea, MD
Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development

Judy S. BlebeaDr. Judy Blebea is Professor of Radiology and Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development at Central Michigan University College of Medicine. A nationally recognized radiologist and educator, Dr. Blebea has previously served as Section Chief of Musculoskeletal Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania, Section Chief at Penn State University and at the University of Cincinnati; Modality Chief and MSK fellowship program director at the University of Pennsylvania and MSK fellowship director at Penn State University. She was principally responsible for the ACGME accreditation of the University of Pennsylvania musculoskeletal radiology fellowship. Dr. Blebea has served on several national committees for the American College of Radiology, American Board of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America and the Society of Skeletal Radiology. She has received several academic and service awards and is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. Dr. Blebea has multiple publications, authored several book chapters and given many presentations on a local, regional and national level. She continues to teach, mentor faculty and students and promote faculty development.

Fred Creighton, MSA
Assistant Dean, Clinical Operations

Fred CreightonIn his role, Mr. Creighton oversees the clinical operations for the College of Medicine and Central Michigan University Education Partners in Saginaw. A native of Michigan, Mr. Creighton graduated with distinction in a dual degree program from the University of Michigan and performed his graduate work at Central Michigan University. Mr. Creighton completed a post-graduate fellowship at Yale University under a former head of HCFA (aka CMS), and holds executive management certifications from the Wharton and Weatherhead Schools of Business and Management. Mr. Creighton is a fellow in both the Medical Group Management Association (FACMPE) and American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). Mr. Creighton is well published in the areas of physician group practice and operations management and has consulted and lectured both nationally and internationally.

David Forsythe, MBA
Assistant Dean, Finance

David ForsytheMr. Forsythe oversees the financial activities of the College of Medicine. Prior to joining CMU, Mr. Forsythe worked in financial services in academic medical centers in Ohio and Michigan. Mr. Forsythe receive a Master of Business Administration degree in Health Administration and Finance from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Management from Albion College.

Georgette Russell, MSM, FACHE, PHR
Assistant Dean, Faculty and Staff Affairs

Georgette RussellMs. Russell is the Assistant Dean of Faculty & Staff Affairs at Central Michigan University College of Medicine. Prior to joining the University, Ms. Russell spent the last 20 years in Human Resources at various healthcare systems in the Mid-Michigan region. She hold a bachelor’s degree in communications and completed post graduate work in Colorado obtaining a Master’s of Science in Management in Human Resources Management. Ms. Russell is also a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executive (FACHE) and hold a Profession Human Resources (PHR) Certificate through the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI).

Sam Shaheen, MD
Executive Director, CMU Medical Education Partners

Sam ShaheenDr. Shaheen is the Executive Director of CMU Medical Education Partners and Professor of Surgery at the CMU College of Medicine Department of Surgery. He earned an MD degree in 1992 from the University of Michigan School of Medicine in Ann Arbor, and performed his surgical residency at Northwestern University in Illinois. He was board certified by the American Board of Surgery in 1998 and 2007, and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Shaheen is a life-long resident of Saginaw county and is committed to building healthy and vibrant communities and improving health through medical education for the Great Lakes Bay Region and Michigan.

Kurt Smith
Assistant Dean, Healthcare Information Technology

Kurt SmithKurt Smith joined CMU in 2015 after spending several years as Director of Telecommunications at Michigan Technological University. Prior to working in higher education, Kurt spent several years providing IT services and consulting to clients in a variety of business verticals, including healthcare. Bringing his experiences in higher education and healthcare IT support together, Kurt now serves as CMU’s Assistant Dean of Healthcare IT, leading his team in supporting both the College of Medicine and the Herbert H. & Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions. As a member of the Chief Information Officer’s cabinet, Kurt is the Executive Director of Medical & Clinical Applications and oversees the IT services for all CMU healthcare operations; academic, research and clinical. Always vigilant regarding the concerns of data privacy and information security, Kurt serves the University in the areas of clinical and research compliance. Kurt is the CMU HIPAA Security Officer, and he works closely with the HIPAA Privacy Office and the Chief Information Security Officer to protect health information. As a full member of CMU’s Institutional Review Board, Kurt reviews research protocols and consults with researchers with a particular focus on data security plans that will protect research participants’ personally identifiable information.

Steve Vance, MD
Associate Dean of Clinical Education

Steve VanceDr. Vance joined CMU in 2011, and currently serves as Associate Dean, Clinical Education. In this role, he leads the development, implementation and operation of our third and fourth year educational program. He was instrumental in efforts to achieve LCME accreditation for the College in 2018. Dr. Vance is a Saginaw native, attended Alma College and received his Medical Doctor degree from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. After completing an Emergency Medicine residency in Grand Rapids, he returned to Saginaw in 2004. He has served as Program Director of the Emergency Medicine residency and Associate Dean, Academic and Clinical Technology. In 2008, he was the founding director for SYNAPSE (Synergy Medical Advanced Practicum and Simulation Environment). Under Dr. Vance’s leadership, the organization rapidly expanded its learner base and educational opportunities. Dr. Vance is past-chair of the Emergency Medicine subsection of the Society for Simulation in Medicine, and continues to guide the use of simulation-based education as a member of the simulation steering committee. Dr. Vance is an expert in the use of advanced technologies for medical education – including the development of a robust video network that enables students distributed throughout Michigan to connect virtually. He regularly speaks on e-learning and its applications nationally. Dr. Vance resides in Saginaw Township with his wife, Sara and their three children.

Mary Jo Wagner, MD
Chief Academic Officer/Designated Institution Official, CMU Medical Education Partners

Mary Jo WagnerDr. Wagner is the Chief Academic Officer/Designated Institutional Official (DIO) in our CMU Medical Education Partners’ Graduate Medical Education (GME) program. Dr. Wagner is known for her leadership in medical education and faculty development. She has served as a national Accreditation Council for Graduate Medicine Education (ACGME) representative for Emergency Medicine for the Duty Hours conference, the initial EM Milestones Workgroup and now currently serves on the ACGME Residency Review Committee for EM. She is a nationally recognized speaker on GME topics. She is very active in emergency medicine including as the Past-President of the Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors (CORD), honored with the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Outstanding Contributions in Education Award and CORD Academy of Scholarship Distinguished Educator. She has been Editor of the emergency medicine written examination review textbooks, the ACEP “PEER” series, for the past 15 years, as well as co-editor of 3 other textbooks.

Mildred Willy, MD
Associate Dean, Student Affairs

Mildred WillyDr. Mildred Willy is the Associate Dean of Student Affairs at CMU College of Medicine, appointed in May 2019 overseeing student services, career advising, wellness, and professionalism. Before her appointment, she spent her career practicing emergency medicine in the Great Lakes Bay Region and continues to practice clinically part-time. She has a strong interest in graduate medical education and was previously core faculty and an assistant program director for the emergency medicine residency program in Saginaw, Michigan. Dr. Willy received her MD from Indiana University School of Medicine and completed her residency in Emergency Medicine at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, Michigan. She received her B.A. in Chemistry and Psychology from Indiana University, Bloomington. Dr. Willy has a strong commitment to continuous learning for physicians and has served on both national and regional education committees. She is excited to contribute to CMU’s rural mission, which addresses the physician shortage in our area.