In February, when Dr. Ray Watts, president of UAB, asked me to serve as the interim senior vice president for medicine and dean of the medical school, my first reaction was, “No, thank you.” I was extremely honored, but I felt like my plate was already full with other responsibilities. I have a research laboratory, patients, administrative responsibilities and a young family. Just six months earlier, I had also completed a year-long interim position as chair of the Department of Medicine.
Dr. Watts is very persuasive. So I set aside my apprehension and agreed to take the job, and I am so glad I did. Now, I can say thank you to Dr. Watts for entrusting me with an opportunity of a lifetime. The experience has given me an even greater appreciation for our organization, and especially our leaders – Dr. Watts, our Health System CEO Dr. Will Ferniany and our president of the Health Services Foundation Dr. James Bonner – who have a clear vision for growing UAB’s success. The Board of Trustees of the UA system also stand firm with UAB and share its mission. I have enjoyed getting to know them during this time.
I would like to thank our senior associate deans, department chairs, center directors, many other faculty and Health Care executives who worked with me collegially and collaboratively on countless initiatives, from faculty recruitment and retention to facilities management to launching new programs.
I am looking forward to returning to my position as director of Nephrology, but I would especially like to thank Dr. Bob Gaston, who agreed to serve as interim director of Nephrology these past eight months, and Dr. Seth Landefeld, my own chair in the Department of Medicine, for his support during this interim role.
I would also like to thank our staff, especially those in the Division of Nephrology and the Dean’s Office, for keeping me and the whole institution on track. Without the thousands of women and men who come to work every day in laboratories, clinics and offices around campus, we would not progress.
It was a privilege to participate with students and alumni groups in the interim dean position. At our core we are an educational organization. Meeting such talented students and accomplished alumni was inspiring, and provided a measure of reassurance for the future of medicine and biomedical research at UAB and beyond.
Finally, I would like to publicly welcome Dr. Selwyn Vickers to UAB as he begins his tenure as senior vice president and dean. As Dr. Watts said, Dr. Vickers is the right person at the right time for UAB. The School of Medicine is already a very dynamic institution and is considered among the best medical schools in the country. I know all of you will join me in giving Dr. Vickers your full support as we take UAB to even greater heights.