Dean's Update

February 25, 2022 - Aron Sousa, MD


As I write, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has commenced and is playing out in video before our eyes. It is frightening, surreal, and deeply disturbing. The tragedies for the people of Ukraine must be first in our thoughts. Geographically but not emotionally distanced from this madness, we have students, staff, and faculty with loved ones in harm’s way. And, if we can be of help to you, by all means reach out to any of us. War is not new to Ukraine, or to other places in the world, or even to Europe in recent times. We have many members of our community who have been in war and/or have loved ones facing the terrors and trials of war.

Often these world events bring back or exacerbate previous experiences. I also want to remember and appreciate our reserve members and families of service members who may soon be deployed as the US and NATO support our allies. We have resources (like ThrivingCampus, MSU Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS), MSU Employee Assistance Program (EAP), the college’s Culture of Caring, and student affair’s support resources for students) to help where we can. I encourage you to reach out to, and look out for, those around you. I know the people of the college are here for each other.

Violence modeled on war or terror is not only an issue overseas. In my first update of Black History Month this year, I wrote about the bomb threats made against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as they came off winter break or with the start of Black History Month. Those threats have continued with at least 57 HBCUs and houses of worship affected from January 4 through February 16 of this year. When you think about the emotional and operational toll of these events, these are not threats, these are attacks. Our partner, Xavier University of Louisiana has had multiple threats over the last six weeks. I encourage you to read the responses of President Verret and his staff to these attacks and why they remain,  inspiringly, hopeful and optimistic.

I think Black History Month is a great opportunity to be curious and to read something you have not yet read. (Here’s what I am reading – it’s tough but so well written.) Our SNMA students ran a Black History Month series on Instagram and created a video asking members of the College of Human Medicine how they think about Black History Month. I encourage you to watch these videos.

One of our former students, Dr. Farhan Bhatti (CHM ’12) , has won the 2022 MSU Young Alumni Award, presented annually to “alumni who have distinguished themselves early in their career.” Since his graduation, Dr. Bhatti has gone on to win multiple awards as a teacher and community leader. He has made community service and providing health access to the underserved a cornerstone of his career. Core to his service has been his leadership of Care Free Clinic in Lansing, dedicated to helping the un- and underinsured. He is also dedicated to improving health care for all and has been a wonderful mentor and role model for so many of us. The celebration gala for alumni awards is not until Fall, but word has leaked out, so I am delighted to celebrate now!

Last week, I announced that Dianne Wagner is retiring as Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (SADAA), which makes me and many others sad, but she does deserve to do whatever she wants. The college needs to place an interim in the role, and after discussion with the CAC, I am asking people interested in the position to submit a letter of interest and their CV to Cynthia Vincent. Candidates who submit their materials by March 4 can be sure they will be part of the first reviews by a small screening committee, who will recommend qualified candidates to me. I hope to interview and make a decision in the week after the deadline, but if you are interested and cannot make the timeline be sure to let Ms. Vincent know. The SADAA is a remarkable position, and I think it is the best job in the college and perhaps in all of education, but I am biased. You can find the job description here.

I hope you and yours are healthy and safe.


Serving the people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD
Interim Dean

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