Dean's Update

December 16, 2022 - Aron Sousa, MD

Dean Aron Sousa with text overlay "Dean's Update"Friends,

This week the Michigan State University Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve the creation of the Charles Stewart Mott Department of Public Health in the College of Human Medicine. Wayne McCullough, PhD, interim director of the college’s Division of Public Health, presented the case for the department to the board this morning before their vote. The name of the department is in recognition of the remarkable financial support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation who granted just over $11 million in support of the division in 2012 and another $25 million last December in support of the faculty and the department.

The Charles Stewart Mott Department of Public Health is the first “named” department in the university. Last year’s contribution is the largest single philanthropic gift in the history of the college and recognizes the remarkable work of our faculty, who have been national and international leaders in policy, advocacy, and community-based participatory research.

Let me express my congratulations and thanks to the staff and faculty of our new department: thank you for all the work you do for the college, the people of Flint, and Public Health as a field. The staff and faculty of our Charles Stewart Mott Department of Public Health are pure, unadulterated, not-from-concentrate, 100% awesome. Your tireless work and collaboration, your intelligence and innovation, your courage before naysayers and struggle, and your humanity and openness are models for so many of us. I hope you all recognize just what a big deal this is and how rare it is to establish a department away from campus. Today, we welcome more MPH graduates to the field and push our work forward to benefit more students, more faculty, and more people in Flint and around the world.

Under the leadership of Dr. McCullough, the MPH degree program, which has 700 alumni, now has full accreditation. Dr. McCullough’s leadership has been outstanding, and he has done so much to move us toward this goal. None of this work would be possible—or of such remarkable quality—without our community collaborators and citizen scientists in Flint. Their intelligence, wisdom, grit, and expertise helps define and differentiate our work and ensures we are working in service of the people.

Amongst this news, I’ve had a series of meetings about the Sparrow-UM announcement from last week. No one expects Michigan to move medical students, residents, or significant faculty to Lansing. This means that both Sparrow and CHM have reason for the current contracts and services to continue. Our faculty provide essential clinical and educational services at Sparrow, and Sparrow is an essential teaching and practice site for the college.

MSU and the college still have many opportunities to expand and grow in Lansing. In the parlance of health care, we cover many lives and will cover more. Each of our clinical departments is hiring, and I expect us to hire many faculty across the college in the next few years.

Verily, this has been a big week. The voting-eligible faculty of the college adopted the College of Human Medicine Strategic Plan with 97% in favor, by a vote of 174 to 5. Regular readers of the update will wonder how this is the third news item in the update, and they will know that the plan has four main pillars (Student Success, Faculty and Staff Success, Research and Scholarship, and Healthy Communities) and  four of the nine goals in the plan form our Health Equity Grand Challenge, which will help focus the college’s work to address and approve health equity in our communities.

We will begin the work of the Strategic Plan implementation teams next month. Each of the pillars and the Grand Challenge will have an implementation plan and team. The DEI team will be the Dean’s Advisory Committee on Diversity (DACD), and we will invite people to join other teams in the next few weeks. In truth, our first implementation effort is underway. The DACD has already launched the 1964 Project, and we have several proposals to consider. The review committee had its organizing meeting this week, and we expect decisions in mid-January.

For many of us this was finals week. MSU Fall Commencement is today, and the accreditation team is in the final push to submit our materials to the LCME. So, before we take off on our next challenges, I hope you get a chance to take a nap in the next couple of weeks. After today, the Town Hall and the Update are going to hunker down with some garden catalogs and a collection of saved seeds in the basement to consider what to sow in the spring. To be sure, we will solve problems in the new year, and then we will solve another problem, and another after that. Each time we solve a problem, we will sow a seed of hope or healing…or just a healthy vegetable in someone’s life. Until then, enjoy the turn toward longer days, and thank you for all you do for our students, staff, and faculty. It is the work you do that makes the College of Human Medicine such a special place.

Serving the people with you,

AronAron Sousa, MD FACPDean


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