March 08, 2018
Today is International Women’s Day, a day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It is also a day to embrace and encourage gender equity and to ensure a true voice for women. While more and more women are taking the worldwide stage, I thought it would be a great opportunity for us to celebrate and thank the women deans and chairs at McGovern Medical School.
As we have previously noted, women comprise 70 percent of the employees of McGovern Medical School, including 80 percent of our staff, 41 percent of our faculty, 46 percent of our residents and fellows, and half of our students.
Our leadership numbers are not as balanced. Just three of our 23 department chairs are women, which despite the low number is close to the national average for U.S. medical schools. According to 2015 Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) data, 14 percent of medical school chairs are women—our percentage is 13. Thirteen women hold various dean positions at our medical school—which represents 34 percent of the total. The AAMC does not have data to track all medical school deans.
Let’s take a closer look at the women who hold these leadership roles.
Our women assistant deans are: Pamela Promecene, M.D. and Julia Shelburne, M.D., assistant deans for Graduate Medical Education; Allison Ownby, Ph.D., assistant dean for Faculty and Educational Development; and Dana McDowelle, Ph.D., assistant dean for Admissions and Student Affairs. Dr. Shelburne joined the medical school in 2004. She is an associate professor, associate program director, and vice chair for healthcare quality for the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Promecene, an associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, joined the medical school in 1996. She served previously as program director for the Obstetrics and Gynecology residency program. Dr. Ownby, an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, has been with the medical school since 2002 and played a major role in the rollout of the new medical school curriculum. Additionally, she is involved with faculty development in the areas of educational theory and practice, curriculum design, program evaluation, learner assessment, and feedback. Dr. McDowelle joined the Office of Student Affairs and Admissions in 2015, is spearheading many of the new wellness initiatives for our students, and serves as one of the institutional representatives for the AAMC Group on Student Affairs. Prior to joining UTHealth, she was the assistant dean for Diversity and Student Professional Development at Long School of Medicine, UT San Antonio.
Our women associate deans are Sheela Lahoti, M.D., associate dean for Admissions and Student Affairs; LaTanya Love, M.D., associate dean for Admissions and Student Affairs and associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion; and Margaret Uthman, M.D., associate dean for Graduate Medical Education (GME). Dr. Lahoti is an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Child Protection. Dr. Love is an associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine as well as the UTHealth vice president of Diversity and Leadership Development. As associate dean for GME, Dr. Uthman serves as the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) designated institutional official for the medical school, with oversight for all GME programs. She is professor and vice chair for education in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Drs. Lahoti, Love and Uthman joined the medical school in 1998, 2005, and 1988, respectively.
Our senior associate deans are Angela Smith, CPA, senior associate dean for Finance; Julie Page, CPA, senior associate dean for Clinical Business Affairs; and Nancy McNiel, Ph.D., senior associate dean for Administrative Affairs. Angela first joined UTHealth in 1996 as part of the internal audit team and started leading the medical school’s finance team in 2004. She is known for her attention to detail and for holding her team to the highest standards of competency and character. Julie has been with UTHealth since 2002, first with UT Physicians, then as DMO of the department of Surgery before joining the dean’s office in 2007. Dr. McNiel first joined UTHealth as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Physiology in 1982 and has been with the medical school’s dean’s office since 2004. She previously was the associate dean for management at our School of Nursing. This triumvirate are invaluable for administration of the medical school, representing deep institutional understanding and a commitment to excellence.
Our women vice deans are Bela Patel, M.D., vice dean for Healthcare Quality; Patricia Butler, M.D., vice dean for Educational Programs; and Margaret McNeese, M.D., vice dean for Admissions and Student Affairs. Dr. Patel is passionate about improving clinical quality and patient safety. She also serves as the division director of Critical Care Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine, the executive medical director of Critical Care for Memorial Hermann-TMC, and the regional chief medical officer for Memorial Hermann-TMC. Dr. Butler has overseen the medical school’s educational programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education, for more than 20 years and is also a professor of psychiatry. In 2012, she was appointed to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) as an American Medical Association professional member. She has led the medical school through three successful LCME site visits. Dr. McNeese has been the driving force of the medical school’s student affairs and admissions efforts for many years. She is also a professor of pediatrics, has served on the Texas Medical Board (TMB) since 2006, and is on the Executive Committee of the TMB.
Our women department chairs are Theresa Koehler, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics; Susan John, M.D., chair of the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging; and Louise McCullough, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Neurology. Dr. Koehler, the Herbert L. and Margaret W. DuPont Distinguished Professor in Biomedical Science, joined the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in 1991 and has been chair since 2013. Dr. Koehler’s NIH-funded research program focuses on the genetics, physiology, and virulence of Bacillus anthracis and she is an internationally recognized anthrax expert. Dr. Koehler is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and has served on multiple federal advisory committees. Dr. Koehler chaired the NIH study section on Bacterial Pathogenesis and she is currently a member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity. Dr. Koehler is a strong advocate for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and a recipient of the Paul E. Darlington Award for outstanding mentoring of graduate students. Dr. John holds the John S. Dunn Distinguished Chair, also is chief of Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, and chief of the Pediatric Radiology at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and Harris Health LBJ Hospital. Her primary area of expertise and research is acute care and emergency imaging of infants and children. Dr. McCullough, the Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Distinguished Chair, joined the medical school in 2015. She also serves as chief of the Neurology Service at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. A noted stroke neurologist with research expertise in male/female differences, she has a remarkable level of extramural grant support, high-impact publications, and has received many honors and awards, including the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to further her research on the impact of social isolation on stroke recovery. We are so fortunate to have these three extraordinary women leading departments at the medical school.
The University of Texas System has recognized the need for an organizational climate and culture that is supportive for women and for raising the next generation of women leaders. The UT System strategic plan includes a specific focus on enhancing fairness and opportunity for women in leadership positions at UT institutions. Recognizing that education is—and should be—all about opportunity, several years ago UT System implemented an “Opportunity Rule” —similar to what exists in the NFL for hiring head coaches—for higher education and health care. This will ensure that qualified women and minorities have an opportunity to be considered for senior level positions.
Please take a moment to thank your colleagues. The many women who work here every day—in so many different positions—underscore the Chinese proverb, “Women hold up half the sky.”