Dean's Update

January 6, 2023 - Aron Sousa, MD

Dean Aron Sousa with text overlay "Dean's Update"


I hope you and yours got the chance for a bit of break over the holidays, and let me give my sincere appreciation to those of you on service, in clinic, keeping the buildings open, supporting our safety, and keeping the animals healthy in the vivaria the last few weeks, while the rest of us got the chance to take a nap. There are always people working in the college, and we depend on your dedication. Thank you.

The last year ended with a flurry of activity: approval of the college’s strategic plan, submission of the LCME materials, approval of the Charles Stewart Mott Department of Public Health, and CAC approval of six new departments. Each of those achievements brings a series of next steps – no good deed is a terminus.

This month the college will be moving into implementation of the strategic plan. Carol Parker is leading the dean’s office’s support of the implementation plan, and we are pulling together the steering committee to lead the work. Next, there will be implementation work groups to head up the pillars and grand challenge. It is these groups that will finalize metrics and work plans.

Perhaps it is obvious, but the implementation work groups cannot do all of the implementation – we, the collective we, have to do the implementation. Each work group will be staffed by an associate dean, and they will provide oversight and, in some cases, specific implementation. As an example, the Dean’s Advisory Committee on Diversity (DACD) will be the work group for the diversity, equity, and inclusion stream. They already get updates from the college’s diversity office and provide oversight in that way. The DACD also has been at the core of the implementation of the 1964 Project and should release the winning proposals yet this month.

As most of you will know, the college’s eight-year LCME accreditation cycle has come around to another survey team visit. We expect the visit to be based out of Grand Rapids, and unlike prior visits when they visited more than one community, this time the LCME survey team will only be in Grand Rapids. I would prefer to have the team visit some of our other campuses, but the LCME has reduced the number of days in a visit and there is not time to move the team. We will make this work, and we will use videos of our other spaces to show the team our facilities around the state.

Last month, Dan Webster, MD, who was the founding community assistant dean for our Traverse City Campus retired. I met Dan a long time ago, when we worked to set up the Traverse City campus as the first new CHM campus since the creation of the original six campuses with the founding of the school. Dan was always game to visit prospective sites, encourage practices to work with our students, and I am sure his delivery of pies and popcorn to prospective clinical faculty was a key part of the survival strategies of several Northern Michigan businesses. He was a national leader in the AAMC Group on Regional Campuses and has been a key supporter of our rural programs. Dan’s example and the work of the Traverse City campus staff laid the groundwork for the expansion of our premier rural health education program as well the creation of our new campuses in the last decade. Dan has my deepest gratitude and appreciation.

And, if Dan is leaving, someone has the unenviable job of replacing him. I am happy to announce that David Klee, MD, has accepted the role as our new community assistant dean for the Traverse City Campus. Dr. Klee is a family medicine physician and has a long history of working with our students and residents. He went to medical school at the University of Minnesota before doing his family medicine residency in Midland at the program affiliated with the college at the then MidMichigan Health, now MyMichigan Health. He will be great in this crucial role, and we are so happy to have him with us.

While I am doing announcements, I am thrilled to announce that Wayne McCullough, PhD, has agreed to be the interim chair for the new Charles Stewart Mott Department of Public Health. Dr. McCullough has been remarkable in leading the division through the last year and a half, and his work was absolutely essential for the success of the department proposal approved by the board of trustees in December. The department has created a faculty executive committee, and we are beginning the process of creating the search for the founding chair. Thank you, Wayne.

A new year brings new opportunities for hope and inspiration. Michigan State alums Wanda Lipscomb, PhD (Education, ’78), and Candace Smith-King, MD (’03), have been mentoring and supporting students from underrepresented backgrounds for decades. Hundreds of physicians have found a path specifically from their mentorship. Dr. Lipscomb is our senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion as well as associate dean for student affairs, and Dr. Smith-King is vice president for academic affairs at Corewell Health in Grand Rapids and assistant professor in our Department of Pediatrics and Human Development. Their work was celebrated as one of the “most inspirational stories of 2022” by WOOD TV in Grand Rapids.

We each make a difference one student, one person at a time. Passing from one to the next, crossing the years like we cross a door-slab, across all of us, we serve multitudes.

Serving the people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD, FACP


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