The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
The University of Texas Medical School at HoustonThe University of Texas Medical School at Houston
The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
Feb. 7, 2009 | 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.

This has been a great week to visit with those from our community and to tell our story. I was able to do this both locally and in Austin.

Here in Houston, the Office of Institutional Advancement put on a very nice event Wednesday evening comprised of a Development Board meeting and a thank-you dinner to donors, called Gratias Dono.

This elegant evening allowed us to thank the donors and friends of the Health Science Center who have given their support to promote the image and excellence of our institution. President Larry Kaiser gave a state-of-the-university address at the board meeting, showing the re-engagement of development board members, the good health of the group practice, the robust increase in National Institutes of Health funds, and the specific contributions of all of the schools that promote collaboration.

The dinner event was moderated by Dr. Randa Safady, UT System vice chancellor for external relations, and speakers included Gene Vaughan, chair of the development board; our own Dr. Henry Strobel, speaking on education; Dean Roberta Ness, who addressed her new programs in the School of Public Health and collaboration; Dr. Paul Simmons, who talked about research; and our own Dr. Carmel Dyer on the comprehensive care our school provides to the community – from birth to death. Donors who had contributed to these areas were recognized.

Just in the last week, we have seen a new, fresh approach in development, which is critical for us in this difficult funding environment as we seek to strengthen our relations with our friends and reach out to new ones.

We have many fantastic contributors and supporters to the Medical School, including Suzan and Julius Glickman, Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation, the Dan L. Duncan Family, the McGovern Foundation, Bill Lummis and Doris Fondren Allday, “Bud” and Nelwyn Hare, John McDonald and Joan Bergstrom, Roy Huffington, Linda Finger, the M. D. Anderson Foundation, Andrassy Family Foundation, Crawford and Hattie Jackson Foundation, Vivan L. Smith Foundation, Vivan L. Smith Foundation for Neurological Research, Ginni and Richard Mithoff, the Kanaly Family, Barry Lewis, Carolyn Frost Keenan, HCHD, MHH Foundation, and Jim Woods. We could not do what we do without their help, and to all of our supporters and friends, we say thank you.

I also had the chance to tell the Medical School story as I visited with elected state officials with President Kaiser, Kevin Dillon, Sabrina Midkiff, Scott Forbes, and Scott Barnett. We learned about their priorities and challenges for the Legislature. There is strong support in the Legislature for higher education and health, which is good news especially in this grim economic environment where billions of dollars are expected to be lost due to a decrease in sales tax revenues and thousands are forecasted to be unemployed.

We will focus on efficiencies and see if we can bring to Texas, and to our school, bright, talented people from around the world. We are in better shape compared to other institutions, and this is the time to invent our future.  In keeping our eye on the budget, we also have a 90-day hiring delay in effect, except for critical positions, and need to carefully look at our expenses. One way we have done this in the dean’s office is to move our monthly chairs meeting from a local restaurant to the Medical School Building. I challenge you to review your office expenses and look for similar ways to cut back.

There is a consensus among the state institutions to prioritize graduate medical education funding and formula funding in legislative requests. At the Medical School level, we are seeking support from the state for faculty retention and recruitment linked to such areas as trauma, neuroscience, and women and children’s programs. I am grateful to Sabrina for her outstanding leadership of governmental relations during these tough times.

I am also grateful that I was able to sit next to President Kaiser on the plane ride back to Houston so that we could spend time discussing chair recruitments, research, and specific programs. His calendar is crazier than mine!

Friday we celebrated Black History Month with a special event in the Leather Lounge, featuring food, entertainment, and speakers. As we pursue diversity in our recruitments – for both students and faculty – we need to showcase our strong role models and increase their ranks. We must recognize that to support diversity, we must believe in it. Another diversity event is set for Feb. 9, the Asian Extravaganza. Again, this is good venue to support and experience our diverse Medical School family.

I am pleased to tell you that January was a good month for our group practice, with $48 million in charges. Though the expenses are not in yet, we expect to have added to our positive margin.

I am very supportive of an administrative change proposed by Kevin Dillon and Andrew Casas – Jorge Zambra will assume a new position in his office and will  lead our revenue cycle operations. This finalizes our new approach to the billing operation, and I am confident that Jorge’s experience, his love for the school, and his ability to bring competent people together will lead to the best performance of the billing/revenue cycle that we can have.

At my monthly meeting with Dr. Peter Davies, executive vice president for research, we continued our discussion of collaboration. He says we need to consider better use of our resources, seek collaborative research, start behaving like a health science center, and look for areas of joint recruitment with other schools. I agree. Dr. Davies has special qualities and abilities to see research opportunities and link investigators together in an informal way. I welcome his leadership and contributions to initiatives that allow our faculty to work closely with others.

I leave you with a quote from Leonardo da Vinci that was displayed on a banner at the Gratias Dono dinner:

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing.  Knowing is not enough; we must apply.  Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

I encourage you to be open with your willing heart and to do something that benefits the Medical School.

Have a great weekend,




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