College of

Dean's Update

November 1, 2019

It’s been a big week for our medical school, including the promotion of Dean Beauchamp to the MSU Executive Vice President for Health Sciences, Doug Meijer’s $19.5 million gift for the Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building announcement, and the $5 million gift from Peter Secchia for the Grand Rapids Research Center (GRRC).  The Secchia gift helps close the final funding gap for the GRRC and is a continuation of Peter and Joan Secchia’s dedication to MSU and the success of the College of Human Medicine. The $19.5 million gift from Doug Meijer and the Meijer Foundation is the largest, single individual gift to the college, and it will help the newly named building in Grand Rapids bring innovative, liminal technology to our people.

And, if you otherwise missed the news, with Dean Beauchamp’s promotion, I was appointed as interim dean after a vote of the College Advisory Council (CAC). I appreciate the CAC’s confidence and have benefited from the support and enthusiasm of those I have spoken with in the last few weeks.

This week I completed my first “quality and safety” rounds at one of our clinics. I have decided to do these early morning rounds once or twice to learn what staff, faculty and students are doing to provide excellent care to our patients and education to our learners. The staff I visited this week are ensuring our patients receive high quality care as safely as possible, and I am impressed how the staff are leading superb efforts. For example, when an insurance company changes medication on their formulary, patients often need to have a different prescription to ensure their treatment continues with medication covered by their insurance.  Getting the new prescription changed and filled in a timely, safe manner requires communication with multiple people along with opportunities for mistakes to occur. 

The staff have recognized near and full misses when patients have not received their new script in a safe, timely way. However; in collaboration with the physicians and nurse practitioners in the clinic, staff are implementing a series of pre-approved orders to get patients replacement scripts faster and safer than in the past.  This is extremely important and is an example of a great safety culture of people who do the work, find ways to improve safety regardless of where they are in the hierarchy. Unfortunately, there is not a good way for staff to automatically track these medication delays, so it’s hard for them to document improvements without adding to their already long task lists with a manual tracking system. 

In a wonderful confluence of patient care and education, this clinic has an Early Clinical Experience (ECE) student who will be conducting a quality improvement project. This student will be able to help document the improvement of care as staff implements their new system. This is exactly why people should get care in an academic setting.  Students, staff and faculty working together to provide great care in a learning environment, improves the care people receive. The student will get a great educational experience, the staff will improve the safety and quality of care our patients receive, and clinical providers will be able to focus on the patients.

I really appreciate the staff’s dedication to getting their patients the medicines they need and providing high quality care. It’s this kind of work that makes MSU and our college a great place to work and receive care. 

As I said, it has been a big week. We hosted President Stanley and Trustees Kelly Tebay and Brianna Scott at the Secchia Center and the Grand Rapids Research Center.  I think they had a great visit meeting with scientists, Rick Leach, Jack Lipton and Dan Campbell, and hearing from Dick Temple about the buildings and the programs in those great spaces.  President Stanley, who is an infectious disease physician, sat in on part of a Middle Clinical Experience (MCE) Weekly Scholar Group (WSG). He was scheduled to be there for 15 minutes, but when I stopped in to pull him out, he said, “give me some more time, I’m still learning here.” I really appreciate everyone who helped make their visit to Grand Rapids a wonderful event. 

One successful step for the college happened this week in New Orleans. The college and Xavier University of Louisiana announced the CHM Mission SMART (SpartanMD Acceptance Realization Track) initiative. The two institutions are collaborating to give students at Xavier an early assurance option for entering the College of Human Medicine. Xavier is a historically black university with a history of sending us great students.  You can learn more about the college’s early assurance programs (EAP) here and the early assurance opportunity (EAO) for MSU undergraduates here. The short version is that EAP and EAO programs allow students to apply and be accepted to the college in their junior year. These students are still evaluated by the admissions committee, and the college is not required to admit students endorsed by undergraduate EAP and EAO programs. 

I must give a shout out to Liz Lyons, CHM’s director of diversity recruitment and admissions coordinator, and QuoVadis Webster, Xavier’s director of premedical programs, for bringing this program to fruition for both of our institutions. You can learn more about the signing event here - it was a great day!

If you have been following campus activities this week, you know about the painful events which ensued. From my conversations with people in the residence halls, the students involved did not intend to offend or cause hurt; however, it happened, and these types of events live on through social media as aching reminders of a misstep.

I am committing the college to be a supportive place for our patients, students, staff, and faculty. Faculty and leadership are learning how to use trauma informed communication to express care rather than presupposing privilege when we do not know each other’s personal histories. Being with each other, sharing stories and taking an interest is how we learn and grow as people and as professionals. I am happy to be on the journey with you.

Aron Sousa, MD
Interim Dean
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

OCTOBER 25, 2019


Today I began serving as interim dean of the College of Human Medicine as the MSU Board of Trustees has appointed Norman Beauchamp the Michigan State University executive vice president for health sciences. Norm is taking on this new role to help MSU do better for the people we serve, and I am taking on the interim deanship again for the same reason. We know and appreciate that you share this goal of serving the people of our state.

I am truly excited and honored to take on the interim dean role again during this interesting and momentous time. The changes in our system are deeply important and will require collaboration among all of us, regardless of our role or title. The events of the last several years demonstrate the need for a different structure and culture for our health programs, and I believe Norm has the vision and the talent to remake MSU health programs as a transformative agent for the public good.

I will do everything I can to ensure the College of Human Medicine is a vibrant part of MSU’s success. A first effort will be listening to those we serve, those who struggle, and those who have suffered. In the last couple of months, the university has taken important steps toward making this a safer, more responsive, and more sanative community. Those steps must continue as real progress toward a real destination. 

As you know, I served the college in the interim role before, and one of my most productive and enjoyable activities last time was to meet with units and departments. When I start the interim role on October 25th, I will be visiting units, communities and departments as one of my first organized priorities. We have a long and rich history of leadership across the missions of the college, and that leadership and experience will be instrumental in our success as we move forward.

A key to my willingness and ability to do the interim deanship is the wonderful people in Academic Affairs who always step up and take on additional roles and work when the college needs them. We are fortunate that Dr. Dianne Wagner has agreed to be interim senior associate dean for academic affairs as I move to the interim dean role. She did a wonderful job leading us through the implementation of the Shared Discovery Curriculum the last time I was interim, and I have every confidence in her ability to handle the senior associate dean’s job this time. The overall SDC curricular team is not changing with this new structure, and I am confident students, staff and faculty will find stability and opportunity as these new roles and relationships develop.

There will be some uncertainty as the new structure develops, but there can be no uncertainty that we, as a college, are dedicated to our patients, our students, the public, and each other. For that I am enormously grateful to you all. 

Serving the people with you,

Aron Sousa, MD
Interim Dean
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

October 11, 2019 - Dean Beauchamp

Dear friends,

As I have shared with you in the past, being a student in the College of Human Medicine was truly transformative for me. I learned how to channel my desire to make a difference in the lives of people who struggle into an ability to do so. I was embraced by a faculty and staff who were deeply committed to helping every student learn to serve – and to become the best version of themselves. Surrounded by fellow students who were kindred spirits, we were able to learn in an environment where we supported each other. I will forever be indebted to this amazing college.

It was my desire to give back that called me to return to the College of Human Medicine as dean in the fall of 2016. It was an opportunity to return to a medical school committed to serving the people. It was also a chance to help lead a much needed transformation of health for our communities, state and nation. During my time as dean, I have been inspired by this college and all the impactful ways in which you and we make a difference. Ours is an extraordinary organization.

I have also observed a potential for the college and the university that has not yet been realized. Specifically, if we could bring together and harmonize the transformative efforts of those engaged in the provision of human clinical care, education and discovery campus-wide, we could exponentially strengthen the ability of the university to serve all the communities that look to MSU for hope, health and healing.  

President Stanley also made this observation based on his experience as a physician and a university president. President Stanley has implemented this change through the creation of the position of Executive Vice President for Health Sciences – the role he has asked me to assume. I have accepted the position, effective October 25. I see this role as a key to our great university taking its next steps toward excellence and the transformation of health for the people of Michigan, our country and the world. 

In order to be effective in this position, I am stepping down as dean of the College of Human Medicine, and I am happy to report that Aron Sousa has agreed to once again serve as interim dean.

I will miss being dean of the College of Human Medicine. This is my college – my medical school – and I am immensely thankful to the teachers I had when I was a student. I am just as appreciative to my colleagues for their generosity of spirit and intellect since I arrived three years ago.  

To our students:  you are the reason I come to work in the morning. I have great faith in your talent, your hard work and your education. What’s more, I know that for the rest of your medical career, you will meet each patient with an open heart and a dedication to reducing their suffering. You will give them hope for a healthy future. They will know you are a College of Human Medicine graduate because they will know how much you care. 

To our faculty and staff:  I will continue to work with you as the Executive Vice President for Health Sciences to advance the health of our patients, the education of our students, and the scholarship of our faculty. The fact that I am stepping away as dean does not change my interest in, and commitment to, the success of our students, staff and faculty, or my dedication to the health of our patients.

As I reflect on my time since taking deanship, I am very proud of the college’s development, including patient safety and quality, diversity equity and inclusion, culture, and implementation of the innovation cycle. We have recruited amazing people to join the college, increased our ability to support faculty and enhanced shared governance. We have strengthened relationships with our longtime partners and started new collaborations with health science partners who share our vision for transforming health and supporting the Grand Rapids Innovation Park. We successfully implemented the Shared Discovery Curriculum, and it is already a medical education model for others in the country. Finally, our research and scholarship have expanded across the state. These are just a few accomplishments for which our team should be proud. Bravo!

I am looking forward to continuing my work with our partners and collaborators in this new role, as together we help MSU reach its promise as a world leading university.  

I believe with all of my heart that the work we started together at the College of Human Medicine will make people healthier and more successful, and I am grateful to have this opportunity to expand on this work and make an even bigger impact on health as the Executive Vice President for Health Sciences.

For they who have health, have hope. For they who have hope, have everything.

In health and in hope,


Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., MD MHS
Dean, College of Human Medicine
Associate Provost and Assistant Vice President for Health Affairs
Michigan State University

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