It is the start of not only a new year, but a new decade. It’s a time for reflection on the year – and the last ten – gone by, and a time to consider the future.
Marsha Palmer, our new internal communications expert, has assembled a list of top ten stories from the medical school for the last year on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Her fresh perspective on our efforts makes this list all the more important.
What a year! We moved into the magnificent Samson Pavilion in April. Day by day, the little glitches were corrected, the puzzling room numbering system revealed, the stairs mastered, the light and air greatly appreciated. The students loved it from the start, and the faculty have come to enjoy it and all that it offers. It is already increasing interactions and communications, especially among the students.
Our physician assistant program had its final site visit on its way to full accreditation. The PA students are strong proponents of interprofessional education, and to date our graduates have a perfect record on the licensing exams.
Our research programs expanded. A strongly collaborative effort captured the long-desired Alzheimer Center from the NIH. Other areas of research also grew and thrived – brain health, cancer, big data, and so much more. Our dedicated faculty pulled in more federal and industrial support to change the miserable health statistics in our inner city community. We moved closer to having our technologies reach patients, as our spinout companies pulled in more professional investment dollars than ever before – over $200 M since 2017 – and FDA approvals started to come in.
There’s much to celebrate in 2019 – but there is still so much to do. Even the casual observer of biomedicine knows that change is constant and sometimes breathtaking. We must move to meet the new challenges. Both our innovation and our resolve will be tested. Building on the terrific foundation we have now laid for ourselves, we are poised for great things in so many areas – continued prominence in medical education and inter-professional activities, advances in brain health, cancer, big data, and genomics – and many other areas. We must press our advantage in improving the health of our community. Our commercialization programs will continue to drive advances for patients.
But no doubt, there will be change. Besides the approaching turnover of the deanship, several other school leadership positions have or will be turning over: Carol Moss, our terrific former Vice Dean for health sciences development now leads the university’s entire fundraising operation; Michael Dolsak has moved from engineering to assume Carol’s role, while longtime medical school fundraising leader Lindsay Whitling is now our vice dean for development and alumni relations. Mark Kaplan, our former associate dean for marketing and communications left his role as part of the university’s reorganization of marketing and communications; Pat Thomas, our Vice Dean for medical education, has retired; and Sana Loue, our founding Vice Dean for faculty development and diversity, has announced she will step down March 1.
For the moment, we must drive forward and expand our current successes. Some important advances are just ahead. I will continue to drive the programs that we have built together just as hard as ever, until the day I turn over the Dean’s suite to my successor. I hope you will continue to press our advantage, too. I hope you will spend a few minutes basking in your success - and then buckle down to continue the progress toward making us the best we can be, educating students in the very best way, continuing research progress, and improving the health of our community. As excellent as 2019 was, and the decade it concluded, 2020 promises to be even better! Happy New Year!