July 01, 2020
Five years—passed by in a flash. AND what an extraordinary five years.
I’ll start with a simple THANK YOU to our wonderful McGovern family.
I feel so fortunate to have spent the past five years at McGovern Medical School and at UTHealth. This is a very special place.
Before I moved to Texas friends told me what a welcoming, “can do” state this is—AND Houston a great city, proud of its multicultural makeup and heritage, teeming with opportunities.
I couldn’t have imagined what that would mean to someone who grew up in New York City, lived in several countries, and spent much of my life and career in Atlanta. BUT the warmth and friendliness of Texas is remarkable and suffuses everything we do here. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to live and work here—working side by side with some of the finest people I have ever met.
We have shared magical moments together over the past five years.
A few highlights that are very special to me include: the transformational McGovern gift, renaming of the school, our annual McGovern Day celebration, and my friendship with Mrs. Kathrine McGovern; the school’s heroic response to serious crises—first hurricanes and now a global pandemic—I could not be prouder of our school; the recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty, including naming five Department Chairs over my tenure; our success with UT System STAR awards—important for recruiting and retaining great faculty; several new institutes and centers—broadening what we do and pushing the boundaries of excellence; our strong Faculty Senate—thoughtful faculty governance in action; groundbreaking for the new UTHealth Continuum of Care Campus at HCPC and the state’s commitment to enhancing behavioral health and mental health care; great science and great scientists recognized by several new and important NIH grants—including refunding of our Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences—one of the original programs in the US, continuously funded since 2006; our new medical school curriculum— a remarkable accomplishment—a tribute to the hard work of so many amazing educators; getting to know the wonderful students we recruit to McGovern—not simply smart and accomplished young women and men, but lovely human beings who remind us every day that the future of medicine is bright; our beautiful new student lounge in the LRC (you will be back enjoying each other someday…….); being invited to Freshman Retreat—a long tradition at the school; our wonderful residency program—showing their strength during the current crisis; the school’s commitment to wellness and resiliency—among students, trainees, faculty and staff; listening to beautiful music on campus through our Arts and Resiliency program; a remarkable commitment to outstanding patient care—wonderful care across the lifespan (from our nationally recognized fetal center and outstanding programs in obstetrics and pediatrics to a world class geriatrics program) with faculty and staff dedicated to caring for our most vulnerable at all ages, working every day to enhance quality and safety; my monthly trips to LBJ hospital—remarkable faculty and staff committed to the underserved; sharing the limelight with Memorial Hermann for top 10 honors in the VIZIENT rankings for healthcare quality; extraordinary guest lecturers—a lecture from the International Space Station by one of our own McGovern graduates and NASA astronaut, certainly one of the highlights; bringing science and medicine to the Houston community through House Calls, Friends of McGovern, and our wonderful McGovern Ambassadors; the Annual CLI Tasting Dinner—supporting the important work of the Children’s Learning Institute; our annual ice cream social and other events to say thank you to our staff, students, and faculty; our Women Faculty Forum hosting McGovern’s first symposium to honor the International Day of Women and Girls in Science; presiding over our White Coat Ceremony; Transition to Clerkships; Match Day and Graduation—important and joyous milestones in a medical career; our historical Time Capsule videos, part of a yearlong celebration honoring the school’s 50th anniversary—our people, programs, and traditions.
But the real magic of McGovern is the people who work here—a patchwork of people from different backgrounds, with different areas of expertise and different interests; hard working, mission-driven, caring for each other. You are wonderful human beings, each with a fundamental commitment to doing the best you can—and to making a real and lasting difference.
It has been a joy to work with you. Serving as your Dean has been the absolute highlight of my career. I look forward to remaining part of the McGovern family.
A heartfelt THANK YOU.