May 26, 2016
As the school year winds down and summer starts, this is also the start of hurricane season, June 1. While I have seen a lot of rain in Houston so far, I recently experienced my first flood door drill, which was organized by Bob Emery, UTHealth vice president for safety, health, environment and risk management. I learned a lot about this building’s protective systems – a perimeter berm, pumps, aquarium glass, and partial and full flood doors. A special thank-you to all of those who came out to participate in the drill on a beautiful sunny morning and especially thanks to those who work around the year to keep us safe.
I have had the opportunity to meet with a number of institutional leaders this week. Last Friday I had my first one-on-one meeting with Dr. Benjamin Chu, the new CEO and president for Memorial Hermann Health System. I was most impressed by his breadth of knowledge, his commitment to partnership, and his understanding of the academic mission. I look forward to working with Dr. Chu, Craig Cordola, Brian Dean, and Susie Distefano to further strengthen our collaborative relationship and to continue to build the very best academic health center for Houston and beyond. On the Harris Health side, Dr. Carmel Dyer, associate dean for Harris County Programs, and I met with George Masi, the president and CEO for Harris Health System. Dr. Jose Garcia, professor of pediatrics; Julie Page, associate dean for clinical business affairs; and others are working on the next year’s contract. Our organizations share a common goal of providing excellent medical care to the community.
Today, the deans of all of the UTHealth schools will make presentations to Dr. Raymond Greenberg, executive vice chancellor for health affairs of the UT System, and other members of the UT System executive team. I’m looking forward to presenting highlights from the medical school as well as discussing opportunities and challenges.
I attended a special event this week, UTHealth Live, to highlight the Many Faces campaign of UTHealth and to thank donors. The evening featured, Mark Summers, the artist of the Many Faces campaign you have seen around town. After brief remarks by Kevin Foyle, vice president for development and public affairs; President Colasurdo; and Mr. Summers; we had the opportunity to visit in an art gallery that featured life-sized photos of each of the Many Faces portraits. The black-and-white venue was perfect for showcasing these beautiful hand drawings. It was such a pleasure to meet the artist. He is remarkably talented, very personable, and humble. So many of the university’s friends came out, and it was an amazing way to show our gratitude to our most ardent supporters.
From the “Wow” files:
- Congratulations to Dr. Jacqui Hecht, professor of pediatrics, Leah L. Lewis Distinguished Chair, and the recipient of the Distinguished Professional Woman Award from the Committee on the Status of Women. I had the opportunity to attend the awards ceremony and hear her lovely remarks (see attached) as she explained how she established the Center for Craniofacial Research and the importance of the big Cs – communication, collegiality, and collaboration – to the success of one’s career.
- A shout-out to Dr. Nirav Thosani, assistant professor of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition, who has been named the first holder of the Ertan Chair in Gastroenterology.
- Kudos to the winners of the 2016 McGovern Medical School Dean’s Excellence in Research Award Winners, recognizing postdoctoral research, First Place – Dr. Priyanka Srivastava (mentor, Dr. Alemayehu Gorfe); Second Place – Dr. Pedro Miramon Martinez (mentor, Dr. Michael Lorenz); Third Place – Dr. Joseph Lorent (mentor, Dr. Ilya Levental) and Honorable Mentions – Dr. Guizhen Fan (mentor, Dr. Irina Serysheva), Dr. Xueqiu Jian (mentor, Dr. Myriam Fornage), and Dr. Qing Zhou (mentor, Dr. Ziyin Li).
- Yesterday afternoon I celebrated Dr. Joe Alcorn, associate professor of pediatrics, who was recognized with a Men of Distinction award. The annual Houston event honors the contributions of outstanding men in our community. To date, the annual luncheon has raised more than $3M for programs in the Texas Medical Center.
I’m so excited about commencement tomorrow. I hope to see many of you there to give our graduates a great send-off.
Have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day weekend and wherever you are on Monday at 3 p.m., please join in the National Moment of Remembrance and honor those who have died in service to our nation.