Murdock Grant Provides Technological Boost to NUNM’s Year-One Online Naturopathic Program

National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) is proud to be the recipient of a substantial grant from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust of Vancouver, Washington. The grant will provide technology improvements for the university’s industry-leading first-year online Doctor of Naturopathic (ND) program.

“It is a pleasure to share the good news that Trustees have approved a grant in the amount of $253,500 for the project titled Technology Improvements,” wrote Steven G. W. Moore, Ph.D., executive director of the Murdock Trust, in a letter conferring approval of NUNM’s grant proposal.

The Murdock grant will allow NUNM to accelerate systems for incorporating telehealth into the clinical care model, improve technology services for faculty, students and staff, and offer faculty training in online pedagogy. Additionally, these monies will enable NUNM to purchase new simulation equipment for clinical labs and facilitate an online academic proctoring solution, among other technology improvements.

NUNM launched its first-year online ND program in 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In its inaugural year, the program matriculated 25 new students, or approximately one-third of the incoming ND cohort.

“It’s clear that students everywhere are being called to natural medicine,” said NUNM’s President/CEO Melanie Henriksen, ND, LAc, CNM. “If they can’t come to us, whether because of COVID-19 restrictions or cost considerations, for at least the first year of their education, we can come to them virtually. Now, thanks to the Murdock grant, we can provide an even more robust learning experience.”

Technology Improvements Reduce Costs

In its letter of intent, NUNM identified technology improvements as a way not only to advance its curriculum, but also to lessen the financial burdens of tuition and the cost of relocation.

“Feedback from prospective students has been that they are interested in the option of having one year of online, then moving to Portland for the second year and beyond to save money,” said NUNM Associate Provost Cheryl Miller, EdD. “The Murdock grant will allow us to offer expanded access to online learning, so students will have more flexibility to balance their living arrangements with academic aspirations.”

First-year ND students begin their training from wherever they currently live, then complete their education through experiential clinical work. This hybrid educational process has the potential to reduce student loan debt while affording better professional placement opportunities. NUNM’s clinical training includes field placements with some of the best practitioners in North America. 

History of Clinical Excellence

Previously, in 2012, NUNM was the recipient of a $220,000 grant from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust for the renovation of the Helfgott Research Institute and Community Education Center. Those funds were used to build a new basic sciences laboratory, create two clinical rooms for seeing patients, build an interactive audio and video broadband-networked classroom, and build a new teaching kitchen/food science laboratory for nutrition classes offered to medical students and community members.

“The physical facilities afforded by the past generosity of the Murdock Trust has allowed NUNM to educate hundreds of students over the past decade,” said Dr. Kelly Baltazar, Dean of NUNM’s ND program. “This new grant will allow us to reach many more, and hopefully usher in a new wave of naturopathic health care providers.”

NUNM’s first-year online ND program was the first such degree program accredited by the Council of Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), the only accreditor of naturopathic medical education recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, and one of only five ND programs recognized by American Association of Naturopathic Medical Council (AANMC).


M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest—Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington—that seek to strengthen the region’s educational and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Grants are awarded to a wide variety of organizations, including those that serve the arts, public affairs, education, scientific research, health and medicine, human services, and people with disabilities.

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