February 14, 2023

Celebrating my first Dean’s Message

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I’m very happy to present my first Dean’s Message since being appointed senior vice president for Medicine and Dean of the Heersink School of Medicine. I am excited to embark on this leadership transition along with Dawn Bulgarella. She and I share a long history working together in school leadership, as she previously served as the school’s senior associate dean of Finance and Administration. Now that she has been appointed CEO of the UAB Health System and CEO of the UAB/Ascension St. Vincent’s Alliance, I look forward to deepening and strengthening our professional partnership and the critical ties between the Health System and the Heersink School of Medicine.

At my recent State of the School Address, I discussed challenges facing our research teams and our plans to address these challenges. A Heersink School of Medicine survey and other campus assessments have highlighted concerns surrounding issues with UAB Research Administration. I want to highlight this recent message from Chris Brown, Ph.D., vice president for Research, discussing the survey and efforts to reduce pain points and address these concerns going forward. Please know that I share his determination to tackle these issues head-on and improve processes so our talented researchers can be as dynamic and productive as possible. We have also shared the results of the pulse survey at the department level with our chairs and asked that department leadership begin addressing the concerns raised with their faculty and staff.

February is Black History Month, and while any time is a good time to learn more about this rich aspect of American history – and to appreciate the current contributions of talented Black/African Americans – UAB is offering a variety of exciting programming this month to celebrate Black history. I’m pleased that our school is partnering with the Alys Stephens Center to present a special jazz performance by Ranky Tanky featuring Lisa Fisher, whose songs celebrate South Carolina’s West African-rooted Gullah community, on February 23. I hope you can attend what’s sure to be an entertaining evening.

I’d also like to amplify this recent Black History Month message from Mona Fouad, M.D., MPH, senior associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the Heersink School of Medicine and associate vice president of the UAB Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. In it, she discusses the health disparities and social determinants of health that we must address in our training, clinical care, and research programs in order to make health equity a reality. She points to examples of the many innovative programs that make our school a true leader in this area, and in which we can all take pride.

Finally, I want to encourage you all to register for and make plans to attend the Leadership in Academic Medicine Lecture featuring Eric Neilson, M.D., the vice president of Medical Affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. This series brings high-profile leaders in medicine and health care to Birmingham to discuss issues facing UAB and other prominent academic medical centers, and Dr. Neilson’s lecture will be especially meaningful because he is a distinguished alumnus of our medical school.