Dean's Update

May 17, 2024 - Aron Sousa, MD


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This week, we welcomed President Kevin Guskiewicz to Grand Rapids for the most recent installment of the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Lecture Series. The series celebrates Ambassador Secchia’s focus on his “3 C’s – cooperation, collaboration and coordination” through public presentations of scientists and science entrepreneurs. This spring, Professor Guskiewicz’s talk, “The Changing Landscape of Sport Related Concussion,” took us through the work of his research team over the last thirty or so years. I know Peter would have enjoyed the talk and the question session, and so should you.

This will be my last opportunity to remind you about the faculty and staff survey – the survey closes May 17. The staff are doing well, and so are some departments. My thanks to the Institute for Health Policy (100%!), the Center for Bioethics and Social Justice, Translational Neuroscience, the Charles Stewart Mott Department of Public Health, and Physiology for leading the way. Don’t see your unit on that list…that means I looked at the results and think you can do significantly better. Please ensure that you sign in using the link emailed to you from and complete the survey. If you have not received the link or have lost the plot, please reach out to the Survey Help Desk at 202-828-0646 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday or

We successfully completed our consultation with the LCME secretariat last week and were notified this week of our follow-up virtual “visit” April 7 and 8, 2025. Andrea Wendling and her team have done remarkable work and are on the right path. There is always work to do, but I like where we are.

This week we lost a founding lion of the college. Tom Johnson, MD, passed away on May 10. Tom was an internist and came to the college as an assistant professor in 1968. He was part of the original two-year curriculum, the four-year curriculum that started the year he arrived, and focal problems, the forerunner of problem-based learning that is now ubiquitous in medical education. Our founding dean, Andy Hunt, MD, sent Dr. Johnson out to set up clinical campuses in Flint, Saginaw, Grand Rapids, Alma, and other communities, and Tom was the founding community assistant dean of Grand Rapids. Check out his 2009 interview with the late MSU pediatric cardiologist, Al Sparrow, MD. It offers some remarkable insights in it. For you medical education geeks, he even describes a version of the Yankton Model first done here at the college.

Tom went from MSU to be dean at North Dakota Medical School for 11 years, developing their curriculum from two years to four years. Tom returned to MSU as an associate dean working in communities with the mantra, “It would be better to be the department chair for the state of Michigan than the chair at Michigan State.” I am delighted that we brought him back for a Town Hall on March 29. He was a dedicated educator and very much an innovator, whose work in focal problems and community-based education became the model for so much of medical education in the country today.

Serving the people with you,


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

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