January 07, 2016
As we close the chapter on 2015, I reflect in amazement at all of the changes and accomplishments of this school over the past year. 2015 will forever be known as the year we became the McGovern Medical School. With the name and transformational gift comes a renewed sense of purpose, focusing on a thoughtful new curriculum that will educate our students to be lifelong learners; pursuit of high-impact research; and delivering outstanding patient-centered care. This generous gift will allow us to establish four endowed chairs in 2016, and we will be able to offer our first full-ride student scholarship.
Other donor-supported initiatives to our school over the past year included the generously donated tree and Hippocrates bronze bust installed in Webber Plaza, the new security for bike parking, and the incredible scientific memorabilia collection, which is on permanent display in the basement.
New leadership for the school appointed this year included new chairs for the Department of Neurology, Dr. Louise McCullough, and Department of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Jamie McCarthy; as well as Dr. Kevin Morano as the associate dean for Faculty Affairs, and Dr. Dana McDowelle as the director of the Office of Admissions and Student Affairs. We also welcomed Sandra Nauert as the McGovern Medical School’s executive director of development. I am pleased to say all of these leaders have hit the ground running and are breathing a new life into our departments and programs.
Also in 2015, we had the opportunity to see some of our faculty in action as part of the Lifetime show, Life Flight: Trauma Center Houston; the gross anatomy course introduced iPads into the curriculum; and entering students got a taste of the new curriculum as part of a pilot program. The Women Faculty Forum debuted, and we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the China student elective, led by Dr. Henry Strobel. We celebrated many awards of our faculty and students and shared the excitement of our hospital partners in their achievements. Our researchers captured more than $10 million in CPRIT grants and had their work showcased in many high-impact journals this year, including JAMA, NEJM, Science, and PNAS.
The 2015 MS graduation will be a hard act to follow — with amazing talks by three extraordinary young women — each a longtime patient of Dr. Colasurdo.
With sadness, we said farewell to some of our colleagues and pioneers in 2015, including Dr. Gerald Dodd, the first chair of the Department of Radiology; Dr. Alan Robison, the first chair of the Department of Pharmacology; Dr. Gene Jacobson, the first chair of the Department of Physiology; and Dr. James H. “Red” Duke, Jr., Department of Surgery and father of Life Flight.
As we start a new year, many of us have wellness resolutions on our minds. I have promised my family that I will start to exercise (It’s official, in print!). The UTHealth Auxiliary Enterprises Recreation Center offers a membership special through Jan. 31 for those who want to focus on fitness. The Employee Assistance Program is now offering counseling support tailored for faculty. More information about programs for faculty and staff is available via the website.
One of my goals for the New Year is to better understand our 24 departments. To that end, I will be hosting one-on-one meetings with all department chairs and will be attending departmental faculty meetings. I’m looking forward to learning about our departments’ successes and challenges, and I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings.