May 19, 2016
It’s hard for me to believe that commencement is already next week. Seems like I just attended last year’s celebration at the invitation of President Colasurdo—and what a memorable day that was. Commencement is always my favorite event of the year—such a joyous and optimistic occasion—with students surrounded by family and friends and teachers all proud of this great accomplishment. This year is particularly special to me—our school’s first degree-granting ceremony as McGovern Medical School and my first commencement as Dean.
For our graduating students, this is a wonderful moment that signifies the formal beginning of their professional careers. They have worked so hard to arrive at this day. For our faculty and educators, it marks the special moment when they can see the fruits of their work—guiding students over the past 4 years, helping them learn and preparing them for a life of learning. So many people worked persistently to get to this day—our students, their mentors, faculty, staff, family, supporters, and countless people “behind the scenes” preparing our first class of McGovern Medical School graduates. Thanks to each of you—we are very proud.
In addition to faculty and staff, we have invited a number of special guests to the ceremony at the George R. Brown Convention Center May 27, including Mrs. Kathrine McGovern; members of our McGovern Medical School Advisory Council; Harris Health leadership; old friends from Memorial Hermann, including Craig Cordola, Brian Dean, and Susie Distefano; and Dr. Benjamin Chu, the new president and CEO of the Memorial Hermann Health System. I can’t wait to see the parents, friends, supporters, faculty, and mentors of our graduates. This is our students’ day, and we will be there to celebrate and cheer them on.
I am delighted that Dr. Eliseo Perez-Stable, director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, has agreed to be our guest speaker. A physician and scientist who saw patients until he joined NIH in 2015, Dr. Perez-Stable is a nationally recognized expert on minority health and health disparities, with a focus on Latino healthcare and disparities research. He is the perfect choice for graduation speaker at a school that embraces the power of diversity located in a city as diverse as Houston. He has been a lifelong career mentor of a close friend of mine at UCSF and after talking with her, I am sure we are in for a treat.
Speaking of commencement speakers, I had the opportunity to hear my husband, Dr. Roger Glass, give the commencement talk at the UTHealth School of Public Health ceremony last weekend. He did a great job, but I have to say I shared some nervous energy for him. Roger is the director of the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health and spoke on the importance and promise of public health, caring for patients by the millions.
As we celebrate our inaugural class of McGovern graduates, this is also a time to celebrate our school and reflect upon our new McGovern name and transformational gift—what it signifies for our future and our culture. The gift bolsters our McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics, establishes a research fund, provides for new distinguished chairs, and creates our first full-ride scholarship. This most generous gift from the John P. McGovern Foundation allows us to focus on our strengths, recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty and scientists and pursuing our goals of educating future generations of physicians with the values of service, knowledge, and compassion.
I know we are all getting used to saying and using our new name—McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). This is especially important as we present at national and international meetings and in journals. New business cards are now available at Printing Services, and new white coats are available at the Bookstore. New exterior building signage is also in the works, and we will soon see the new logo on our telephone screens. For consistent templates for research posters, letterhead, logos, etc., please see the website. As you can imagine, changing a name takes time and attention to detail, and we need everyone’s help to get this right!
Please hope for a beautiful sunny day next Friday, May 27 and join me in congratulating our graduates!