The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
February 8, 2008 | from the Office of Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo

Distributed on Fridays via e-mail to all Medical School employees, students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows, 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.


I am happy to be back from my trip to Italy, and I have a lot to share with you this week.

First, I want to let you know of the great visit the UT Health Science Center at Houston leadership had Monday with Dr. Kenneth Shine, executive vice chancellor for health affairs at the UT System, and two members of the UT System Board of Regents. Dr. Jim Willerson led the presentations to share our good news and progress; Dr. Peter Davies reported that the health science center has reached $190 million in research expenditures, which is truly remarkable; and Kevin Dillon and I reported on the strong financial health of the practice plan, which is a great achievement of all of you. The overall picture for the health science center is very good, our momentum is truly unique, and the Regents are very happy with our institution.

We are on a path to success, but I realize that things are not “perfect” yet. We continue to have challenges, such as billing operations, clinic operations, relationships with partners, and faculty and staff morale. However, we will always view problems as opportunities and work together to find viable solutions. Once an issue is recognized, we must resolve it – our school will not accept poor or average outcomes.

Results from a spring 2007 survey of faculty, conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges, paint a bleak picture and a terrific opportunity regarding faculty satisfaction. Thirty-eight percent of our faculty completed the survey and did not rate any of the 120 items as significantly more satisfied compared to faculty at peer institutions. Faculty satisfaction and retention is something we must work on improving. With the help of Faculty Affairs, the Faculty Senate, our chairs, and our faculty, we will be creating a program to address these issues – this must be a very high priority for our school.

Another important priority for our school is boosting our fund-raising efforts and results. I have asked all Medical School departments to create a development portfolio, outlining their needs by March. Our development staff is growing to accommodate these increasing requests.

We have a site visit coming up March 18 by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the body that accredits our residencies and fellowships. With the new addition of a neurosurgery residency and a geriatric and palliative care fellowship, the Medical School now has 58 ACGME-accredited programs. The ACGME visit will be looking at compliance with duty hours, balance between resident service and education, resident supervision, and evaluations.

Also on the teaching front, we will soon be formulating and instituting a new concept for the Medical School that will be adapted from the concept of scholarly concentration at Stanford. These programs, led by multidisciplinary groups of faculty, will allow our medical students to gain an earlier and in-depth introduction to their chosen specialties and will be linked to the coming Academy of Educators.

I will let you know more about this exciting development and other priorities and coming changes at the Feb. 25 Town Hall meeting (noon, MSB 1.006). I have heard from faculty, staff, and students over these past five months, and the time is right for us to collectively further discuss our mission.

But, before we meet, let me share some good news -- we are aggressively filling the Medical School’s new research space, which may even be filled by the end of the year. In addition, we reached a record in January for charges from the practice plan, $50 million. This is our best month ever, and it is a testament to everyone’s hard work. This is truly an extraordinary achievement that we all should celebrate. We will be working hard on our collections so that they may match the level of our charges. Collectively, this information supports the introduction of an overdue and credible compensation plan that rewards productive people.

The search for our next health science center president is going well. The remarkable quality of our applicants speaks to the interest in succeeding Dr. Willerson and his incredible journey and legacy. He has built a terrific foundation for our next leader, and we are grateful for that.

We have some news about our entering class for fall 2008 – 232 have been selected, with an average GPA of 3.7 and average MCAT of 31.6. Twenty percent of the class is from underrepresented minorities. I look forward to meeting this bright group of students, and I want to thank Dr. Judianne Kellaway and the Office of Admissions, as well as all of the faculty interviewers who contribute their time and resources to make this a success.

I have a housekeeping item to remind you of – all Medical School information technology purchases, including Buycard purchases, should be reviewed and approved by Medical School Information Technology (MSIT). This policy also includes flash drives, which must be encryptable in order to safeguard confidential information and research data from unauthorized access. I also have asked MSIT to carefully review all laptop and Macintosh purchases in an attempt to better protect information and to ensure our software applications are operable.

You may be familiar with Dr. Willerson’s story of the sweeper. The man whose job it was to sweep the floors at NASA and when asked what he did, he replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”  No matter your role, you are integral to achieving the missions of this Medical School and must strive to be the best.  I want to say a special thank-you to our staff, who are the backbone of this institution – they get the work done every day without applause or headlines.

One last announcement -- effective today, I am implementing a Casual Friday policy for the Medical School. You may not see me wearing jeans on Friday, but at least I won’t have to wear my tie.

Have a great weekend,


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