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Dean's Letter - Fall 2012

Dear Weill Cornell Community:

The start of the academic year is a time of renewal, when we look for ways to build on our accomplishments to meet the challenges ahead. For Weill Cornell Medical College, 2012 has already been a year of enormous progress, and we are not quite three quarters of the way through.

Since the beginning of 2012 we have achieved a great deal. We established an Office of Faculty Development to assist our physicians, researchers and educators in achieving academic success. We created the position of Vice Dean of the Medical College to enhance our academic and clinical missions. We launched WCMC Ideas, Weill Cornell's first ever "crowd sourcing" website to collect and harness the Medical College community's best and brightest ideas. And as the Cornell NYC Tech campus comes to life, there is a palpable sense of excitement among the faculty about the opportunities for collaboration and innovation.

Another point of excitement is around the quality of our incoming class — the class of 2016. They have a collective GPA of 3.78, the highest ever in the history of Weill Cornell, and average MCAT scores of 34.6. At Weill Cornell Qatar, the incoming class is 39 students strong, comprised of 20 women and 19 men representing 15 different nationalities. I can tell you that having met many of our new students and reviewed their backgrounds, this is a class full of exceptional leaders and volunteers who are ready to take on the world — and make it a better place.

Like any great organization on the move in a changing environment, we face many challenges. The health care marketplace remains extremely competitive, especially in New York, and we can expect care delivery and payment models to evolve in many ways that will impact our physicians and our funding for academic medicine. As government funding for education and research becomes even scarcer, and our students face a growing debt burden, we must redouble our efforts to seek out alternate funding sources. With the Belfer Research Building moving swiftly toward an on-time completion in 2014, we continue to be challenged with recruiting several dozen top tier basic and translational scientists to join our outstanding faculty as we build WCMC into a world-class research enterprise.

In the last few months, we have made significant progress on a number of strategic fronts, among them:

• We have continued to leverage our strong relationship with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, including securing agreement on and support for the recently announced Cancer Center with Dr. Lewis Cantley as director; and agreement on and support for the Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) and the Department of Neurology, and their director and chair, respectively (formal announcement coming in early October). The progress of the Cancer Center and the BMRI are significant in that they represent the early adaptations of the departmental organizational structure of Weill Cornell toward "hubs" and "themes" with a variety of authority levels.

• We have made a number of moves to strengthen our leadership team, including the appointments of Dr. Michael Stewart as Vice Dean, Dr. John Leonard as Associate Dean for Clinical Research, Dr. Carla-Boutin Foster and Dr. Rache Simmons as Assistant Deans for Faculty Diversity, and Dr. Mary Simmerling as Assistant Dean for Research Integrity.

• Our recruiting efforts are in high gear. We are formulating a policy for mixing previously recruited and newly recruited faculty in the new Belfer Research Building and identifying specific faculty to move. We are also evaluating utilization of space at 1300 York Avenue for additional newly recruited faculty and other offices and programs.

• Construction of the Belfer Research Building is on schedule and on budget. Our Development efforts have raised $128 million this fiscal year, exceeding expectations.

• In August, we achieved full compliance by our full-time faculty regarding conflict reports. In addition, Weill Cornell has successfully implemented the new NIH conflict of interest rules and engaged the faculty to continue with this achievement going forward.

• Curriculum reform continues to move ahead with pilot programs including longitudinal patient experience and a new form of problem-based learning that partners basic science and clinical faculty. We are also looking at the possibility of expanding our class size to meet the predicted physician shortage facing this country.

• The Cornell NYC Tech campus project is on track. I hosted a joint workshop with Weill Cornell, Cornell and Technion in July at which we agreed on a series of research and educational goals and next steps for the project, including a new round of intercampus pilot grants.

• Our Community Outreach efforts expanded to include the HeartSmarts program, a faith-based outreach and education program overseen by Dr. Holly Anderson and our Perelman Heart Institute. We also funded and expanded our student-run Community Clinic.

• We have elevated the profile of Weill Cornell by engaging regularly in issues-driven media interviews, including the national dialogue around health care reform and the recent Supreme Court decision, and the anticipated shortage of physicians in the U.S.

The vision I have laid out over my first eight months as Dean seeks to build on our accomplishments and capitalize on our strengths, so that Weill Cornell is properly positioned to face the challenges ahead. At the core of my vision is this: The patient is at the center of our universe, and the unified goal of our tripartite mission is to discover new and better ways to heal bodies and save lives. We are well on our way to making Weill Cornell a place without silos, where basic scientists, translational researchers, educators and clinicians are equally at home.

As we look ahead to another successful academic year, I want to thank you for your commitment to Weill Cornell. I look forward to working with you to find ways to make our institution even greater in these challenging times. I am confident that together we can make Weill Cornell the standard of excellence in academic medicine.

With warm regards,

Laurie H. Glimcher, M.D.
Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College
Provost for Medical Affairs of Cornell University

Posted September 19, 2012 10:30 AM | Permalink to this post