Richard Nielsen, PT, DHSc, ECS

Founding President/CEO

With over four decades of healthcare provider and higher education service and experience, Dr. Richard P. Nielsen served as the founding president and CEO of Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions from inception in 1998 to 2021 and founding president/CEO of the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine (Noorda-COM) from inception in 2017 to the present.  It was his vision and leadership which brought about the creation of both institutions.  

After obtaining two separate Bachelor of Science degrees from Brigham Young University (pre-physical therapy) and the University of Utah (physical therapy) during which time he served in the US Army National Guard for six years, Dr. Nielsen served in the United States Navy Medical Service Corps for over 20 years. During his time in the US Navy, he held several esteemed positions, one of which included serving as the Chief Physical Therapist for the entire US Navy and Physical Therapy Consultant to the US Congress and Senate, the Surgeon General, the US Supreme Court, the Pentagon, and the US President and White House.  While in the US Navy Dr. Nielsen obtained a Master of Science degree in neuro-kinesiology (neurophysiology) from the University of Washington.  Additionally he became Board Certified as an Electrophysiology Clinical Specialist (ECS) and has since re-certified three times.  He has published in several peer-reviewed journals in the specialty area of Clinical Electrophysiology.

After his retirement from the US Navy, Dr. Nielsen co-founded and served as president and CEO of the Institute of Clinical Electrophysiology in Provo, Utah until becoming founding president and CEO of Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in 1998.   He also obtained a Doctor of Health Science (DHSc) degree from the University of St. Augustine with an emphasis in Clinical Electrophysiology.

Dr. Nielsen has co-founded with his wife, Jodi and their eldest daughter, Kindee, two charitable foundations (Reach The Children 1998-2006 and World of Difference ( 2006-present), both of which have focused on enhancing education opportunities by building schools for underserved children in Africa and focused on regenerative and sustainable agriculture and health and nutrition for the people in Africa.  For over 34 years, Dr. Nielsen has led teams to Africa.  Since 2013, World of Difference has partnered with Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions by taking graduate students to Kenya and Malawi to work in developing country hospitals and clinics.  In 2013, Dr. Nielsen and his wife, Jodi, received the American Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year Award for their service to the people in Africa.   

Dr. Nielsen has received several recognitions in the medical community, including the 2015 Leader of the Year Award from the American Physical Therapy Association and in 2019, the Utah Hero of the Year Award for healthcare education.   The Nielsen’s live in Salem, Utah and have five children and seven grandchildren.


Founding Dean and Chief Academic Officer

After an undergraduate degree in education Dr. Dougherty graduated from medical school from Kansas City University. He is board certified in Family Medicine and holds a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Sports Medicine. He is recognized as a fellow in both Family and Sports Medicine as well as two Academic Leadership colleges. Dr. Dougherty is past President American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine (AOASM), an Organizational Physician for the Kansas City Royals serving in the Dominican Republic in collaboration with the Kansas City Royals and Dominican Republic Ministry of Health since 2008.

Immediately before coming to Provo, Dr. Dougherty had been serving as Dean of the medical school for Touro University in Henderson, Nevada. Prior to that he served in a variety of senior leadership roles at his alma matter in Kansas City for 20 years.

Dr. Dougherty is a Certified Physician Leader in Administration. He was selected for and completed a Senior Leadership Development Program, a National Health Policy Fellowship and holds a Certificate in Finance from the University of California, San Diego – Rady School of Management. He was voted Family Physician of the Year for Missouri in 2014, named Education Health Care Headliner by VegasInc Magazine in 2018 and was recently selected to serve as a Governor for the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Doug Evans, AD

Director of Facility Operations

Doug Evans comes to Noorda-COM with 25 years’ experience in the facilities and operational management of large commercial buildings and construction management.  Mr. Evans began his journey as a Chief Engineer while working for the Financial District in Salt Lake City, Utah before moving into higher education where he has worked as a Director of Facilities for the past 10 years.  His previous institutions have included the Montana Technological University of the University of Montana and the University of Utah.  Mr. Evans will be overseeing construction of the new Noorda-COM campus and will be responsible for the daily operations once it is completed.

Leslie Manley, PhD

Director of Assessment

Dr. Leslie Manley joined Noorda-COM as Director of Assessment and Professor of Neurosciences. Dr. Manley received her BS in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from UCSD School of Medicine. She has also received a Senior Leadership Development Program certificate from Columbia Business School. She developed her passion for teaching undergraduate medical students and neuroscience graduate students while at UCSD. Prior to joining Noorda-COM, Dr. Manley was the Executive Director of Assessments at Kaplan Medical where she led teams of dozens of physicians and PhDs to create world-class licensure exam practice items and review materials.  She was an author of the first ever online Qbank and a variety of published medical boards preparation books. She has extensive knowledge of assessment and medical content development and is excited to take this experience to a new medical school.

Schyler Richards

Vice President of Institutional Advancement

With nearly 30 years of Advancement experience in higher education, Schyler Richards joined Noorda-COM in July 2020 as Vice President of Institutional Advancement. Prior to joining Noorda-COM, Ms. Richards served in the same capacity at Touro University Nevada from 2010 to June 2020. As a member of the senior leadership team at the Noorda COM, she will provide advice and counsel on matters related to the University’s outreach to various external audiences and has overall responsibility for Development, Alumni Relations, Marketing and Public Relations, Advertising, Media Relations, Government Relations, and Community/External Relations. Ms. Richards previously worked at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas holding numerous positions, including Associate Vice President for Alumni & External Relations, Associate Vice President for Community Relations, Chief of Staff to the University President, and Director of Donor Relations and Stewardship.

Dave Sorensen, M.HRD, CPRP

Director of Human Resources

A native of Northern Utah, Dave Sorensen joined the Noorda team in December 2019 as the Director of Human Resources with over 20 years’ experience in Human Resources and Mental Health.  Prior to moving back to Utah, Dave owned and operated the largest private outpatient mental health clinic in southern Idaho.  He has a degree in Psychology from Utah State University and a master’s degree in Human Resource Training & Development from Idaho State University.  Dave has a passion for working with recruitment, HR policy and employee relations. He has been a recognized crisis intervention instructor and parent educator for many years throughout Southeastern Idaho. 

Christina Twelves, MPA

Director of Financial Aid

Christina Twelves serves as Noorda-COM’s Director of Financial Aid.  Ms. Twelves arrives at Noorda-COM with over 25 years working within higher education at major universities including the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada State College, Westminster College, and Touro University Nevada, as well as the U.S. Department of Education. Ms. Twelves is passionate and committed to assisting students with attaining their dreams.  Her philosophy is that quality student service provides students with the opportunity to focus on their education, not worrying about the financial aid process.

Kristy Watters

Administrative Assistant

After graduating from Brigham Young University with a degree in Education, Ms. Watters taught for 10 years in California. After returning to Utah from California, Ms. Watters spent the next 25 years working as a Human Resources Manager and Executive Administrative Assistant in the retail world. She is very excited to use the skills gained through 35 years of experience to support the Clinical Affairs department and students at Noorda COM.