Dean's Update

October 27, 2023 - Aron Sousa, MD

Above: As summer moved to fall and back to summer, Aron enjoyed a walk in Sanford Natural Area on campus before summer turns to winter next week.


Sometimes the struggle of moving a project forward is like swimming around in a bowl of tapioca pudding: there must have been a starting point, but after circling for long enough, you have lost track of the beginning and ending; no creature evolved to swim in this stuff; and although you liked tapioca at one time, now you are not so sure. And then there are weeks like this one, when you’ve apparently eaten so much of the pudding, you can climb out of the bowl, and many projects take an important step forward in the same week:

  • This week, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) completed its $3.4 million grant in support of the expansion of the former Flint Journal Building that will house the 18-faculty expansion of the college’s Charles Stewart Mott Department of Public Health. The MEDC grant goes to the owner of the building rather than the college, but because we will have a long-term lease for the space, this funding does help the college and the business plan for the expansion. (The Bridge’s article is lovely except that the money does not go to MSU.) My thanks to everyone who has been key to this effort, including Joe Martin of Uptown Reinvestment Corp., the Mott Foundation, the Flint delegation to the state House and Senate, and our own team working on the building project led by Carol Parker, PhD (’16), associate dean for administration, and Wayne McCullough, PhD, interim chair of the department.

    To celebrate the beginning of construction next month, the college will hold a special “live” Town Hall on November 21 with panels of leaders and community members. We are happy to have President Woodruff and former state senator and CEO of the Greater Flint Health Coalition, Jim Ananich, as well as our community collaborators and faculty. Our Flint expansion was modeled after Jane Addams’ Hull House from the turn of the previous century. Hull House faculty and the surrounding community would gather to share knowledge and learn from each other. Tune in to do the same November 21.
  • I am delighted to announce Nara Parameswaran, PhD, as our new senior associate dean for research. He will start November 1, and I am excited to have him take on this position. Nara has been excellent as associate dean for faculty affairs and staff administration and brings to this role a deep understanding of research, faculty mentoring, knowledge of MSU, and engagement with our communities. He is also a lovely person, who is a great collaborator and colleague. Please welcome him to the role!

    I want to thank Walt Esselman, PhD, for his long service as senior associate dean for research at the college. He has been our lead for research through the building of the Grand Rapids Research Center, the development of the IQ and ISTB, and the college’s partnership with Henry Ford. He has also been essential to our work with the Spectrum/Corewell-MSU Alliance, and a bevy of chair and faculty recruitments large and small. Walt was also behind the development of the college’s pre-award and post-award office, perhaps the most popular administrative unit in the college. Walt’s contributions to the college and MSU are too numerous to count, and he continues his remarkable career in OHS and the Office of the Vice-President for Research and Innovation. Thank you, Walt!
  • Today, the Michigan State University Board of Trustees (BOT) approved the college’s proposals for six new departments, namely the departments of Neurosurgery, Otolaryngology, Urology, Radiation Oncology, Pathology, and Dermatology. These departments have now been approved without objection by the College Advisory Council, the University Committee on Faculty Affairs, the University Committee on Graduate Studies, the Faculty Senate, and now the BOT. Nara, Carol, and I started collecting information and drafting each proposal the summer before last. There are many, many people to thank, but I particularly want to thank our faculty leaders in academic governance over this time: Karen Kelly-Blake, Jack Lipton, Jamie Allen, Sue Barman, and Scott Counts. None of this could have been successful without the active support of EVP Beauchamp, Interim Provost Jeitschko, and Interim President Woodruff. And, finally, I want to thank our faculty, who have supported our students and will fill these departments from across the state.

    The backbone of each of these departments will be faculty from Henry Ford, but the departments will be statewide and available to students and faculty across the state. In the last year, we’ve been standing up the Department of Anesthesia, and it has been a lift to be sure. We cannot implement all of these departments at once. There is still some human resources and administrative tapioca to swim through, but it is energizing to move from approval to implementation.

Each day we make some progress, even when it can be hard to see. We might learn one more skill that can be valuable to someone down the road. Perhaps we run into an old friend who has something new to teach us. Each new skill and lesson bring us closer to the goal. Thank you for all you do for the College of Human Medicine. Together we make the world better.

Serving the people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD, FACP


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