Dean’s Newsletter – September 2011

As I am sure you have heard, Ruth Simmons, the President of Brown, has announced that she will step down in June of 2012. She will be sorely missed. Ruth Simmons’ vision and leadership has transformed Brown. One of her most significant contributions, from my point of view, was her insistence that Brown raise its aspirations as a research university on par with other Ivy League schools. She increased the size of the faculty and emphasized to them the value of both research and teaching. She improved and increased the amount of research space, and convinced the entire community that strengthening our profile as a research university was critical to Brown’s future. The results show and Brown’s scholarship has blossomed as has the university’s national and international standing.

Medical students have settled into their new home and they love it. The classroom space is luxurious. Perhaps most appreciated is the study space, something in short supply on the campus. The students like the academies, but it is not entirely clear how they will use them. They are filled at lunch time but not so busy later. We’ll have to see how they are used as the year goes on. The students were quite concerned about transportation to the building, but that hasn’t turned out to be a problem. Twenty percent of students (and one dean) ride bikes and park them right in front of the building on Richmond Street.

Photograph by Warren Jagger

Others carpool, take the shuttle, or take the public bus. Some even walk. When the students arrive they can get great bagels and breakfast burritos at the Bagel Gourmet Café right in the building.

The public art was put in place in the alcove on the first floor between the large auditoriums over Labor Day Weekend. It is a wonderful collage of tile, bronze panels, gold and gold leaf representing the doctor patient relationship. Two marble chairs facing each other are placed right in front of the collage. Whether one likes it or not, it grabs your attention. I like it.

Photograph by Gregory Jordan-Detamore

Our goals for the next year are to create a School of Public Health from our Program in Public Health and to further enhance the Academic Medical Center. Associate Dean Fox Wetle, the public health faculty and Executive Dean of Administration Lindsay Graham will be working hard to make this happen. There are some matters to resolve and several steps to take over the next few months. We will also examine opportunities to further integrate the Academic Medical Center. I will be working closely with President Simmons and Provost Schlissel to explore this possibility with other institutions and our elected officials. An important part of this initiative will be bringing our more than 600 full time clinical faculty in closer alignment with Brown. Lots of good work ahead.

We have had some wonderful events in my backyard to mark the opening of the academic year. There were two receptions for incoming students, the first for medical students and the second for the graduate students. For many, this was their first introduction to their classmates and to Providence in the summer. They got to meet my manic Springer Spaniel, Snicky, and feast on sushi and beer. The students’ capacity for raw fish is astounding to me, especially since it is not my favorite. The latest event was a very nice affair with the Department Chairs and Senior Leadership of the University. The food included Kobe beef mini-burgers, lobster crepes, scallops with bacon, and fried asparagus. My kind of food… although I felt a bit queasy afterwards.

This month has been also notable for awards. First Brian Zink, MD, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Frances Weeden Gibson-Edward A. Iannuccilli, MD, Professorship in Emergency Medicine. Brian deserves tremendous praise for his vital role in building the department and so I’m pleased that he could be honored with this professorship. The outstanding research of an alumnus was recognized recently. Arthur L. Horwich ’73, ’75 MD, now the Sterling Professor of Genetics and professor of pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, has won a share of this year’s Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. Dr. Horwich was the medical school’s first valedictorian. This award is one of the nation’s most prestigious in research. Many past award recipients have become Nobel Prize winners.

We are looking forward to an eventful October with the White Coat Ceremony and the Celebration of Thanks on October 15th. The Corporation Dedication of the Medical School will take place the following week on October 21st. The keynote speaker is Darrell G. Kirch, MD, President and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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