Dean's Update

April 8, 2022 - Aron Sousa, MD

Aron Sousa, MD, and Ade Olomu, MD


I have had a classic pre-COVID-19 deanly week complete with in-person meetings, four campuses, some dreary weather, and a celebration or two.

On Wednesday, I had the great pleasure of attending the “make-up” investiture reception in honor of faculty who have been awarded endowed positions in 2019Ade Olomu, MD, professor of medicine, chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine (therefore my boss) and departmental vice chair for research, was awarded the Blanch B. and Frederick C. Swartz Endowed Professor of Medicine. Dr. Schwartz was an early advocate for the medical school at MSU. You can read an account of his 1958 meeting with President Hannah in a Michigan Farm News editorial by Clark Brody. Dr. Swartz and his wife provided the very first endowed professorship to the college, shepherded by the college’s first development officer, Marti Heil, whom we will miss greatly when she retires later in the spring as MSU’s vice president for university advancement. It is a small world.

Dr. Olomu is an accomplished scholar and physician with more than 80 peer-reviewed papers, NIH, AHRQ, State funding, and an international reputation. She is a wonderful doctor and trusted colleague, and if memory serves, she even carried me through a rotation or two when we were residents. I was the senior resident in title, but she had already completed her gastroenterology training at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the UK when she came here for residency. She’s just excellent, and I am so glad she has earned the Blanch B. and Frederick C. Swartz Endowed Professorship.

As you may recall from a month or so ago, Dianne Wagner, MD, is retiring at the beginning of June, which means we need to fill her multiple roles. She has been our associate dean for undergraduate medical education (ADUME) since about 2015-16 and “interim” senior associate dean for academic affairs (SADAA). You all know how much I appreciate all of the work Dianne has done for 29 months as interim SADAA. We are so much better off for her SADAA leadership, and she will be around for a few more months to help us all with the transition. There will be announcements about the ADUME in the coming weeks, but we just finished the internal search for the SADAA role.

I am delighted to announce that Andrea Wendling, MD, will take on the role of interim senior associate dean for academic affairs starting Friday, April 15. You may know Andrea from her service as chair of the Curriculum Committee, her time on the Admissions Committee, her leadership of our rural health program, and her time as associate dean for community academic programs. I have had the pleasure to work with Andrea for many years, and she is dynamic, talented, very scholarly, collaborative, innovative, and has been a great team builder. To my knowledge, she will be the first SADAA based somewhere other than East Lansing. Andrea lives in Boyne City and is a family medicine physician there, a national award winning teacher, known scholar in physician workforce, and national leader in family medicine.

Everyone who has done the SADAA role has had a different way of doing the job. Marsha was different than Ruth, I was different than Marsha, and Dianne was different than me. Andrea will be different than all of us, and I have every confidence she will be excellent. And, by all means, catch her DEI Grand Rounds on April 12 at 6:00 PM on a screen near you.

Next week, I head off on my first out-of-state fundraising trip since the start of the pandemic. That trip, along with my four-campus week, truly marks my return to a pre-pandemic schedule. Many of our people never left the pre-pandemic schedule, and some of our people may never return to the pre-pandemic schedule.

I really want us to be thoughtful and flexible as we find our way to a new normal. We are a community-based medical school with growing research and public health portfolios. Our people provide essential clinical care in our communities, we have online programs, and we also have teaching that must happen in person. We show up and walk shoulder-to-shoulder with our community partners across the state.

Much of what we do is done in person, but we need to welcome change and understand the advantages of working remotely to improve efficiency, improve people’s lives, recruit and retain the best people, improve safety, and reduce wear and tear on the planet. Next week’s noon Town Hall on April 15 will be dedicated to the university’s recent policies and training on remote work. Dr. Nara Parameswaran, associate dean for faculty affairs and staff administration, will lead us through the issues. Bring your questions, your ideas for best practices, and your thoughts on how we can move into the future thoughtfully.

Serving the people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD
Dean Designate

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