The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
October 27, 2007 | from the Office of Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo

Distributed on Fridays via e-mail to all Medical School employees, students, and residents, UT 2 Me is Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo's weekly update of news and items of interest. He also welcomes feedback through this two-way communication.


It has been a busy and productive week of meetings for me as I have been addressing local and national issues that affect the Medical School.

On the national front, I attended with Dr. Brent King the Code Red conference meeting in Austin, which was convened by the Task Force for Access to Health Care in Texas. You may have heard about the Code Red Report, which outlines the impending health care crisis of the state – you can read about it here.  Our state has some dubious rankings – number one in the nation for the most uninsured, number 46 in the nation in quality of care, and last in the nation when it comes to access to health care. We must come together as a state to solve this growing problem by implementing best practices from other states and applying adequate resources to create a viable solution – there is no easy fix. 

On a local level, I had very positive meetings with Juanita Romans, CEO of Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center, this week. We spoke about a shared vision for our institutions and expanding and building our best practices. We have a close affiliation with Memorial Hermann, and it is one that we see growing as we integrate our academic and clinical missions. I had the opportunity to attend the annual Memorial Hermann board meeting, and I am happy to share the hospital’s outstanding quality service news, including being named to the Thomson 100 Top Hospitals Performance Improvement Leaders and to Solucient’s  100 Top Hospitals Cardiovascular Benchmarks for Success. The hospital’s phenomenal growth and service to the community is a testament to its strong leadership and our clinical faculty whose work there does not go unnoticed.

Recognizing faculty and honoring their achievement is what a special dinner last evening was about – the annual faculty promotion dinner. I was proud to host this dinner to celebrate the achievements of 28 of our faculty who have been promoted to professor, associate professor, or awarded tenure.  Faculty are a key resource for us to successfully achieve the Medical School mission, yet according to a recent University of Colorado study, more than 40 percent of medical school faculty are considering leaving academic medicine for these top 6 reasons:

  1. Too difficult to balance work and family
  2. The inability to comment on institutional leaders
  3. The lack of faculty development programs
  4. Lack of recognition of clinical and teaching work for promotion
  5. Absence of an “academic community”
  6. Failure of the chair to perform regular evaluations

These issues are not arcane – yet they must be addressed as faculty turnover has a great impact on all areas of our mission.  A faculty member visited me the other evening – and we spoke until late evening. He told me about these very same issues, and others that must be addressed immediately by our clinical departments. I want to know about the tough issues, the “ethical” issues, and our school will address them. The UT leadership is strongly committed to improving the state of our academic community.

When it comes to supporting faculty, I have met with Drs. Patricia Butler and Gary Rosenfeld to define the structure of the Academy of Educators. We will make that happen, and it will be a great professional community for our outstanding academic leaders.

Also in the support of faculty, I have decided to retain the Office of Communications in its current structure and in the Medical School. In addition to providing the internal communications for the school, this office supplies the graphic services to faculty, students, and staff, such as research poster printing, medical illustration, Web site design, photography, and slide digitizing.

The next issue of UT 2 Me will be focused on the COO. I meet almost daily with Kevin Dillon, the COO, so that within the first six months of becoming dean there will be a visible impact on the Medical School and a better integration of services within the Health Science Center. We have a well defined vision of the Medical School, and we will prioritize and execute changes that will promote financial stability and academic growth.

Academic support and growth was the topic of conversation of the Parents and Friends Organization meeting I attended this week. What a great group of involved parents we have supporting our students and school. This organization has a strong history of reaching out to our students in need, from emergency loans to the burn-out dinners that they host during final exams. The feeling of family and love of the Medical School was incredible in that room, and we welcome their continued involvement in the Medical School.

As I’ve said before, it takes all of us working together to make this school great – and that means the parents of our students as well.

Have a great weekend,