The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
April 25, 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 week we have had wonderful opportunities to highlight the great achievements of our Medical School family both internally and externally.

Tuesday evening I attended the Student InterCouncil Deans Dinner. It was nice to see all of the Medical School deans there and to share good stories about the school with our students. Congratulations to medical students Scott Tolan and Stephanie Martin, who were both recognized for their outstanding leadership with scholarships from the organization.

Although I was not able to attend the event, I have heard great things about Dr. Carmel Dyer’s, Dr. Cheves Smythe’s and Dr. Sharon Ostwald’s presentations at the UT Talks luncheon event this week. I am sorry to have missed this outstanding dialogue on aging, which I hear the participants have been “buzzing” about. I want to thank the speakers for being great ambassadors of the UTHSCH and for being leaders in such an important area.

The Children’s Learning Institute was in the spotlight at an event hosted by the Suzann and Travis Broesche this week. The institute serves thousands of children by providing research-driven expertise in neuropsychology, child development, and other disciplines critical for the study of gene-environment interactions and their effect on cognitive growth and development. I also attended the Children’s Defense Fund’s Beat the Odds event this week, which was an opportunity to honor Marilyn and George DeMontrond  and to hear some amazing stories about children who have overcome incredible obstacles.

Thursday we were able to update special visitors from the Texas Medical Association and the Harris County Medical Society with the latest news of the Medical School. The leadership of these organizations engaged us in a discussion of legislative initiatives, progress and needs of our Medical School, and pressing issues in academic medicine. I appreciate their interest and their time here.

The evolution of the group practice was the focus of this week’s MSRDP Board meeting. President Larry Kaiser was very complimentary of the growth of the group practice and its partnership with Memorial Hermann and the Harris County Hospital District. Andrew Casas reported on the improvement in the abandonment rate of calls to UT Physicians – it has dropped to 5.4 percent, from 15 percent, with our target being 5 percent. I thank the department chairs and DMOs for their attendance and leadership in our clinical mission.

Speaking of chairs, I want to highlight Dr. Martin Citardi, chair of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, who has made amazing improvements in his departments since he came on board last year. Through partnerships with the Medical School and Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center, he has grown the department from one faculty member to nine highly specialized and talented faculty. This is just one of the many success stories in our departments. 

I am anticipating great things from the new leader of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Jair C. Soares will start June 1 as the chair of psychiatry. He comes to us from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is a distinguished professor of psychiatry and director of the Center of Excellence in Research and Treatment for Bipolar Disorders. I want to thank Dr. Pedro Ruiz for his leadership and commitment to education during his term as interim chair of the department. And we are all pulling for the psychiatry residency team, which is competing for a second win of the Mind Games trophy.

This week the Office of Faculty Affairs is tackling six questions.

  1. What are the top three objectives of your office?

The top three objectives of the Office of Faculty Affairs (OFA) are focused on facilitating the success, advancement, and well-being of the Medical School faculty. The OFA fosters the advancement of faculty by assisting them through the promotion process, including the preparation of effective curricula vitae, assembly of promotion dossiers, and career counseling. The OFA also serves as an advocate for faculty welfare through data collection and transmission to the dean and Health Science Center officials on faculty satisfaction, adequacy of communication, and collaboration on preparation and implementation of guidelines and standards for faculty conduct and performance, for institutional compliance and safety and research conduct from the faculty standpoint. The OFA addresses faculty success through soliciting nominees for faculty development opportunities (e.g., ELAM fellowships), fostering the faculty development leave process, and advocating faculty interactions in the Medical School and other HSC venues.

2. How do the goals of your office support the mission and goals of the Medical School?

The mission and goals of the Medical School are teaching, research, and service. The agents of these activities are the faculty who teach, carry out scholarly endeavors, and render service at the Medical School, HSC, and state and national levels. To achieve these goals in an exemplary fashion requires an exemplary faculty. The OFA facilitates recruitment efforts for our 23 Medical School departments, including advising candidates and departments during recruitment and assisting with the Texas medical licensure process for domestic and international faculty.

3. What are you doing differently in your office this year? What is new?

What is new in the OFA (and in Educational Programs) is the SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) recertification of our institution. This effort is organized and coordinated by a HSC-wide committee headed by Dr. Max Buja and has required a considerable effort to document faculty and educational credentials in the Medical School. This recertification occurs every 10 years and is an absolute requirement. Therefore, it demands prodigious efforts.

4. What role will your office play in the future of the Medical School?

Our major role and task for the near future will be a focus on faculty retention. In the past year, we saw a small, though welcomed, decrease in the number of faculty leaving the Medical School. This is due to prompt decisive action on the part of Dean Colasurdo, who addressed causes of faculty dissatisfaction by increasing communication, collaboration, and courtesy. We are continuing efforts toward faculty retention by developing a guide to faculty retention. We are also conducting interviews with faculty on issues of research, scholarly activity, and clinical activity with the goal of identifying obstacles to faculty balance of activities that lead to advancement. A report on these results is to be submitted to the Dean for review and action.

5. Which accomplishments of your office are you most proud?

The greatest sources of satisfaction and joy for colleagues; Dr. Henry Strobel, associate dean for OFA; and Dr. Katherine Loveland, assistant dean for OFA, includes the support given to faculty, departments, and the Faculty APT Committee in furthering the academic careers of our faculty and then seeing them succeed.  This is in addition to the cheerful and dedicated work of the members of the office:  Ms. Faye Viola, director of the OFA; Ms. Roxanne Garza; Ms. Julisa Anaya; and Ms. Carol Sherman.  Dean Ribble established the office in 1995, and it has been supported since then by all the Medical School deans to assist faculty, departments, and the Dean with issues involving faculty.

6. Other stories/opportunities/challenges you would like to share?

A continuing challenge for the office is to have faculty know that it exists.  It is a marvelous thing to be able to work with the talented and productive faculty of our Medical School. It takes two things to have a great Medical School: a great faculty and a great student body. We have both!

I agree – we have great individuals at our school, which comprise the successful team that we call the UT Medical School.

Have a great weekend,


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