Dear Colleagues-Friends,

As we look to raise the profile of our medical school, we often see wonderful examples of our faculty and staff contributing in meaningful ways. Three examples stand out from recent events.

On November 30, VCU recognized the 50th anniversary of the merger of the Medical College of Virginia and the Richmond Professional Institute. These institutions were combined to form VCU in 1968. The symposium addressed both the challenges and opportunities of our history as a university through plenaries, poster and concurrent sessions. VCU news coverage of the event can be found online.

The medical school was very well represented with more than half a dozen faculty, staff and alumni participating as moderators and session participants. Donna Jackson, Ed.D., assistant dean and director for student outreach programs in the School of Medicine’s Admissions Office, was a featured speaker in the Mapping Pathways to Health Careers, session. This session discussed the beginnings of the Guaranteed Admission Program and the VCU Health Careers Pipeline and its history of inclusion. She was joined by:

  • Arthur Seidenberg, Ph.D., associate professor emeritus of biology, former assistant dean for undergraduate academic affairs and coordinator of pre-health sciences advising, VCU College of Humanities and Sciences;
  • Kevin A. Harris, Ph.D., associate vice president for academic health sciences, VCU Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences;
  • Lisa Webb, Ed.D., executive director for academic health sciences, VCU Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences.

Additionally, Suzanne Barbour, Ph.D., formerly of VCU and now professor and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Georgia, moderated a compelling session on Building a Diverse Community of Scientists: A Decade of VCU Center on Health Disparities Research Training Programs. VCU Panelists included:

  • Hamid Akbarali, Ph.D., professor and vice chair, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology (principal investigator: VCU IMSD);
  • Virgie Fields, M.S., healthcare-associated infections epidemiologist, Virginia Department of Health (alumna);
  • Sarah Golding, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of Undergraduate Research, Department of Biology (director: VCU IMSD undergraduate);
  • Rosalyn Hobson Hargraves, Ph.D., associate professor, Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Teaching and Learning; associate vice president for Assessment and Transformation (director: HERO-T);
  • Joyce Lloyd, Ph.D., professor and vice chair for education, Department of Human and Molecular Genetics (principal investigator: VCU IRACDA, VCU PREP and VCU IMSD);
  • Mychal Smith, Ph.D., assistant professor and community outreach coordinator, Department of Chemistry (director: VCU IMSD PhD);
  • Marcie Wright, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Family Medicine and Population Health; director, Research Support Services VCU Center on Health Disparities.

Finally, a third session examined What’s in a Name? Exploring the Tensions of Legacy and Future. University archivist Jodi Koste, M.A., provided a fascinating overview of the various names and accompanying identities of the School of Medicine as it evolved from the medical department of the College of Hampden-Sydney when it was first founded 180 years ago to its current VCU and VCU Health System names and identities. Panelists alumnus George Burke, M.D., of the Class of 1970, who currently serves on the board of the MCV Foundation; Thomas Maness, M.P.A., associate dean for development; and Alex Valadka, M.D., housestaff alumnus and chair, Department of Neurosurgery, offered their perspectives on the sense of place as a meaningful part of the human experience and the tensions inherent in the MCV and VCU naming conventions. Panelists and audience members had a robust discussion. Anita Navarro, Ed.D., chief of staff for the medical school, moderated the session.

We are grateful to all these colleagues for extolling the great legacy of our school and for so skillfully juxtaposing our past with our vibrant present and future promise.

We also recently had an opportunity to visit Williamsburg and share how VCU Pauley Heart Center makes a difference in heart care. At the home of our gracious hosts Don and Susie Beck, we described our team-based approach to comprehensive issues, from diagnosis to treatment as well as prevention. Leading off the evening were Division Chair of Cardiology Ken Ellenbogen, M.D., and Greg Hundley, M.D., director of VCU Health Pauley Heart Center, whose comments and talent greatly impressed a room full of community leaders. Equally as impressive was the way they handed off the podium to their accomplished colleagues, Zach Gertz, M.D., Jordana Kron, M.D., Kris Rao, M.D., and Antonio Abbate, M.D., each of whom also spoke passionately about their important work. The panel also stressed how vital the research of basic scientists is in advancing cardiovascular care. Our gifted cardiologists displayed a remarkable depth of talent as well as the breadth of collaboration that is a hallmark of the center and the medical school.

This event was made possible as a result of the relationships developed through the MCV Foundation’s Discovery Series, under the leadership of Harry Thalhimer, Margaret Ann Bollmeier and Brian Thomas. For several years, our faculty have been investing time in the Williamsburg community as speakers at the lecture series, and this terrific showing was a great way to end out a successful year’s engagement with the community.

While many of you may know her contributions to faculty nominations for various national awards, Kathleen O’Kane Kreutzer, M.Ed., director of special projects in the medical school’s faculty affairs office has just garnered her own national award. We have received word that Kathy’s been honored as one of two Associate Editors of the Year by the AAMC’s MedEdPORTAL. A journal devoted to teaching and learning resources, MedEdPORTAL is vital in advancing health professions education, and Kathy’s contributions on this national stage reflect well on our school’s commitment to a life-changing learning environment.

We are fortunate to have so many talented people willing to share their expertise and to invest precious time in raising the profile of our medical school and engaging with our community.

With every good wish for your continued good work,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System