Richard “Rick” Muma, PhD, MPH, PA-C, was named the 15th president of Wichita State University on May 6, 2021. He is the first physician assistant to become the president of a university. He has more than 30 years of experience as a professor, administrator, and PA in internal medicine and infectious diseases. Muma has published his research in notable journals and has edited four books, two on HIV infection and two others on patient education.
Muma was born in Wichita, Kansas but raised in Houston, Texas. He became interested in the PA profession as a high school student, learning about it from one of his high school teachers who left teaching to become a PA. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston (1987), a Master of Public Health in Community Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston (1993), and a PhD in higher education administration from the University of Missouri-St. Louis (2004).
Muma has been a faculty member with Wichita State University since 1994. Before assuming the presidency, Muma was executive vice president and provost of Wichita State, serving as the university’s chief academic officer and providing academic leadership for the university’s priorities — including enrollment, applied learning, funded research, and regional economic development (2018-2020).
While at Wichita State, Muma has served as senior associate vice president for Academic Affairs and Strategic Enrollment Management and chair and professor in the departments of Public Health Sciences and Physician Assistant. He has also served as chair for Saint Louis University’s Department of Physician Assistant Education (1999-2000) and an assistant professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston’s Department of PA Studies (1988-1994).
Prior to assuming administrative roles at Wichita State, Muma was active in reshaping health profession education at Wichita State. Most notably, he was responsible for developing undergraduate degrees for paramedics and health science majors, a master’s degree in physician assistant studies, and reorganizing the Department of Public Health Sciences to include undergraduate degrees in health management and health science and a graduate degree in aging studies.
Muma is a member and Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA), an honorary member of the Pi Alpha Honor Society, an elected member of the Alpha Eta Honor Society, and a member of the American Public Health Association. Muma is also a board member of the Kansas Hispanic Education and Development Foundation and the Wichita Medical Research Education Foundation (and was president from 2015-2019). Muma established the Wichita College Hill United Methodist Church Community Garden in 2010.
Acknowledgments: This biography was written by Dr. Muma and his staff. His biography was submitted to the Society in June 2022. Photographs are courtesy of Dr. Muma.