Dean's Update

March 11, 2022 - Aron Sousa, MD


In the early parts of the week, I spent time talking and emailing with students, faculty, and alumni working to support people in Ukraine. I spoke with a student with Ukrainian family whose home was destroyed on Sunday. Their relatives are ok for now, but obviously, this is hard for our student. It’s difficult just hearing the stories; imagine the struggle to keep focused on caring for patients when you have people in peril.

One of the college’s alumni, Mary Marshall, MD, FN, FAAFP, reached out to me after last week’s Dean’s Update to ask for help getting supplies to Ukraine. Mary’s daughter-in-law is a medic in Ukraine helping the wounded, and she is in need of basic medical supplies. Mary found that the Michigan State Medical Society has set up a system to get supplies to the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Warren, Mich., who will get the supplies into Ukraine. You can reach their website here. Mary and a couple of our students, Anne Opalikhin and Emily Cushman, are working to help transfer supplies to Warren for shipment to Ukraine. In the Lansing area, they have arranged a drop-off site at the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians (2164 Commons Parkway, Okemos, MI 48864). Supplies collected at the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians will be taken to the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Warren for shipment to Ukraine. And:

  • At the same time, two of our students, Emily Cushman and Svetlana Donato, have set up a “Go Fund Me” to help support the work of the international relief agency, CARE.
  • One of our most accomplished alumni, former Ukrainian Health Minister, Ulana Suprun, is on Twitter and has been a remarkable leader for her country before the war and again now.
  • Dr. Anna Moore has also been working on ways to get help to Ukraine and recommends Razom.

During the week, I’ve been in a conversation with Dr. Marshall and offered her the chance to provide a paragraph for this week’s update:

Thank you, Dr. Sousa, for allowing me this space to share my daughter-in-law, Olena's, story. She is a courageous young, Ukrainian woman with whom our son fell in love and married on December 28, 2018. They are both experienced combat medics who have served their respective countries honorably in times of war, he during Iraq and she in Crimea in 2014 and now in Kyiv. She has been unable to obtain a US visa as a spouse to be with him due to a myriad of technicalities over the last two and a half years. As she saw the possibility of the Russian invasion become a reality, she began to teach civilians in Kyiv to be medics. She promised us she would be safe in her beloved city of Kyiv and that she would stay in Ukraine to defend it and her people. During the last 14 grueling days, she has been selflessly caring for many wounded men, women, and children. In the brief and very sporadic messages that I have received, she has never once complained about the hardships that I know she must be facing. This past Saturday, she messaged me asking if I could send bandages and “harnesses” for the wounded soldiers. I can only interpret this as bandages, tourniquets, ACE wraps and other assorted emergency items. And so, my mission began. I found the Michigan State Medical Society site this past weekend offering a list of items and where to send them. Thank you to Anne and Emily, CHM Class of 2023, for reaching out to me so quickly to help. Today, there is a little more hope but we have much work to do. Please feel free to join us. You can reach me, Mary Marshall, MD (CHM 1997), at, or cell # 810-423-7116. We will be taking medical supplies at least weekly to the Ukrainian Culture Center in Warren, Mich. My heartfelt thanks for your help and your prayers.

Thank-you, Mary, and we all hope Olena and her people are soon safe.

Following town halls and updates, I have received touching and heartfelt notes in support of the people of Ukraine. I know this is a very difficult time for our people with connections to Ukraine and the surrounding region. Equally, this is difficult for all with loved ones in harm’s way around the globe, even, or especially, if those conflicts have not resulted in the kind of media and social notice as the war in Ukraine has received. As I have done before, I want to remind you of resources available to help folks who are struggling for whatever reason (for example, 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.) 

In happier news this week, the college had its first in-person chairs and directors meeting in two years. It was great to have people in the same room, and it was clear that everyone enjoyed being together. We scheduled part of the meeting to allow time for folks to mill around and talk to each other, and when I went to restart the meeting, no one wanted to leave their conversations. We even had a guest join us. We had a conversation with Steve Kalkanis, CEO of Henry Ford Medical Group, about the new campus in Detroit and the work our faculty are doing together. It was pretty wonderful even for a registered introvert like me. About a third of folks chose to wear masks, which worked out fine. Nearly all of Michigan is in the “low community spread” range, which is terrific news.

Tuesday is Give Green Day! Our focus is on raising money for scholarships, and there are some special opportunities this year! There are many “challenges” throughout this campaign, some specific to faculty and staff. It would be wonderful to see some of your names on this page, and maybe the College of Human Medicine can even make it to #1 in the faculty and staff challenge? Here they are: 

  • MSU Faculty & Staff Match Challenge (all day) - All MSU faculty and staff who make their first gift to Michigan State University will have their gifts matched 2:1 up to $250, until matching funds are exhausted.
  • MSU Faculty & Staff Challenge (9-10 AM) College with the most MSU faculty & staff gifts between 9-10 a.m. EDT earns a $1,000 bonus.

Thank you for all you do to make the college such a special place and the world a better place.

Serving the people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD
Interim Dean

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