The road ahead

Dear Faculty and Staff,

I am writing to let you know, as you may have read in the announcement from President Snyder, that I have accepted reappointment as dean of the School of Medicine and senior vice president for medical affairs at Case Western Reserve University for two more years. This will bring my time as dean to nearly 14 years, about three times the average term of my peers in the US—and a long tenure for deans at CWRU’s medical school in the modern era, second only to the legendary Fred Robbins!

The next two years will be busy. I intend to work hard with President Snyder and the extraordinary faculty and staff at the School to continue our strong momentum. Presiding over the transition to the sparkling, visionary completion and occupancy of the Samson Pavilion at the Health Education Campus will be a central focus of my remaining two years here at the School.

We must further develop the distinctive and innovative inter-professional education we have pioneered and we will continue to create novel areas of concentration, or pathways, for our students. In the graduate domain, we will work to consolidate the gains that brought us an additional 50 percent new, excellent PhD students this year than last, provide meaningful first-rate masters’ level education, and advance our strong contributions to the undergraduate community.

The momentum that has given us unprecedented levels of translation of our discoveries from the laboratory to patients must be sustained for patients are waiting. The seven companies spun out this year are a great base on which to build, and the pipeline is robust. Because of threats to all research revenue streams, we must continue to diversify our research support, well beyond the NIH. This year, total SOM research expenditures reached their highest level since the ARRA years. We must continue to seek additional support for our top-flight programs from philanthropy.

Our community programs have expanded and deepened, and now include more extensive collaborations than ever before. We cannot let up in our drive to improve the health of our community, for we are making gains in reducing infant mortality, in caring for patients with chronic diseases, and in achieving health equity. We have made great strides in reaching out to the young people of our community, providing research and educational opportunities for our high school students and younger scientists as well.

We must recommit to a diverse student body and faculty. Our progress in diversifying the student body is encouraging: 23 percent of the students from our current first-year MD class are from groups historically underrepresented in medicine. At the faculty level, progress is not as dramatic. We must try harder.

Together, we set these goals years ago in our strategic plan and have worked diligently to achieve them. It’s only by joining together that we have come this far and been consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top medical schools in the nation, and number one in Ohio.

Looking back, we have achieved real gains–Western Reserve 2, more faculty research support in the form of 48 new endowed chairs, a fast-growing segment of our grant portfolio in community-based research and citywide collaborations, with many of our grants based at our affiliated hospitals and community partners. I’m reminded of the African proverb: if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. We have great momentum and drive, and I look forward to working with you in the next two years to sustain this energy and build for the future.

Over the last dozen years, I have immersed myself in the duties of the deanship, leaving little time for personal passions, old and new. Now that there seems a natural transition point–in 2020 when we are settled into the new building and on our way to maximizing its opportunities–some of those passions beckon to me. Of the “big three” elements of success–time, talent, and treasure–only time has a limit. I believe 2020 will be an opportune moment to hand the baton to a new dean and permit myself the time to engage in some of these projects.

In the meantime, I intend to work full tilt to consolidate our gains and push our School to further heights. I know you will join in this pursuit of excellence.

Thank you, for all you do and for who you are.

Most sincerely,


Pamela B. Davis, MD, PhD
Dean, School of Medicine
Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs, Case Western Reserve University
Arline and Curtis Garvin Research Professor
2109 Adelbert Road, BRB 113
Cleveland, OH 44106