Academic Societies

The Society Deans
Group of physicians at CWRU School of Medicine Health Education Campus

The Robbins Society
Dr. Angelique Redus- McCoy
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs

The Blackwell-McKinley Society 
Dr. Todd Otteson
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs

The Wearn Society 
Dr. Steven Ricanati
Associate Dean for Student Affairs

The Satcher Society
Dr. Jill Azok
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs

The Geiger Society
Dr. Marjorie Greenfield
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs

The Gerberding Society
Dr. Jason Lambrese
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs

Upon matriculation to the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, all students are randomized to one of six Academic Societies, which are named after important people in the history of the medical school.

Students remain members of their assigned societies throughout their time in medical school. The Academic Societies aim to foster close relationships and a sense of community among students. The Society Deans serve as mentors, helping students navigate the curriculum and providing students with advice and support for residency and career planning.

Mission Statement

The purpose of the Academic Societies is to provide a comprehensive support system for students so that they can master the academic and professional skills required to be a physician. This goal is accomplished through advising, teaching, career planning, and building a sense of community.


Personal Advising

Academic Advising

  • Holding group meetings during the Blocks to share best practices
  • Remediation (learning plans and academic and behavioral contracts)
  • Oversee the student-run Consult Services and Tutoring Program to provide learning assistance outside of class
  • Referral as needed to Office of Accommodated Testing and Services
  • Referral as needed to Disability Resources to arrange examination accommodations
  • Provide advice about academic scheduling and timing of National Boards exams
  • Dual degree program planning (MS, MA, PhD, JD)

Career Planning

  • AAMC Careers in Medicine Program guidance
  • Early career counseling for M1 and M2 students
  • 1:1 meetings to help students find mentors
  • Match Time-Line, CV preparation, personal statement preparation, informational class meetings
  • Workshops and panel discussions in preparation for residency application


  • Help students find mentors
  • Write letters of recommendation for research grants, fellowships, and year-long programs
  • Coordinate with Medical Student Research team


The Society Deans teach some curricular components but are primarily involved in the teaching of medical professionalism.

  • Organize and lead the Professionalism Workshop at Orientation
  • Organize and lead the annual Student Clinician Ceremony
  • Work with students on personal reflection, continuous quality improvement, sharing best practices

Building Community

  • Creating a smaller community where everyone feels heard
    • Society Lounge space
    • Society representation through the InterSociety Council (ISC)
    • Independent budget for the ISC, allocation determined by students
    • Society competitions
    • Society volunteer projects
    • Society logos
    • Vertical sharing of best practices
  • Managing or Playing Major Role in School Events
  • Keeping in touch
    • Weekly Society Dean meetings to share ideas and issues. Christine Warren, Associate Dean of Admissions and Student Affairs at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine attends this meeting regularly. Student leaders and others are often invited if they have a request, issue, or information they want to present to the deans
    • Regular meetings with other administrative departments
    • Regular Dean's Council Meetings with the Committee of Student Representatives

Advocating for Students

The Society Deans advocate for their students in a variety of issues. 

Committee on Medical Students Referrals

At the School of Medicine, decisions about academic advancement are handled by the Committee on Medical Students (COMS). Referrals to this committee are made for academic and professional reasons. The guidelines for academic referrals are clearly spelled out in the student handbook. The student's Society Dean will meet with him/her in advance, describe the process and then attend the COMS meeting as the student's advocate. The Society Dean will also collate the data about academic performance and present it to the COMS.

Referrals to the COMS come from sources such as a faculty evaluation, faculty complaint, student complaint, criminal referral or a mental/physical health referral. The Society Dean will meet with the student, explain the COMS process, and ask the student to reflect on the complaint. The Society Dean will attend the COMS meeting to advocate for the student.

Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) Letter Preparation

Graduating students need this letter as part of their residency application. The MSPE letters are prepared by the Society Deans. Students see the letter during the entire process, including the final product. 

The Society Deans prepare the MSPE (formerly known as the Dean's Letter). Although this is a letter of evaluation, the Society Dean's role is to collate the assessments that are submitted by the faculty. This is a transparent process that is accomplished through a series of 1:1 meetings. 

If a student is uncomfortable with content of their MSPE, they may contact the Vice Dean for Medical Education to request an independent review or a change in letter-writer.

Avoiding Conflicts of Interest

The Society Deans are advisors. All academic assessments are prepared by faculty and the Office of Curricular Affairs and are provided to the Society Deans. The Society Deans present the data to their students and review the assessments with them to help them reflect on areas of strength and weakness. When students fail to meet expectations on a particular assessment or curricular competency, they are referred to their Society Dean, who will communicate the timing and substance of the remediation designed by faculty and will help students prepare a remediation plan.

Whenever possible, the Society Deans avoid having their own students in a pre-clinical or clinical teaching activity and will ask IQ team coordinators not to assign students to a group facilitated by their Society Dean.

The Societies work on a group practice model, and students are free to consult with any of the Society Deans. If a student genuinely feels that they have a conflict with their Society Dean and is not comfortable with this person, he or she may meet with the Vice Dean for Medical Education to request a change. The Vice Dean will make the final decision.