February 19, 1999

Medical Dean’s office adds top posts

Medical Dean's office adds top posts

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Dr. John Chapman, dean of the School of Medicine. (Photo by Anne Rayner)

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Roger Chalkley, Ph.D.

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Dr. Gerald Gotterer

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Dr. Deborah German

Change is afoot in the Office of the Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Responsibilities are being rearranged, house staff and graduate students are being brought into the fold and high-ranking positions are being created in a broad restructuring that officials say will enhance the medical center's educational mission.

"This restructuring is meant to facilitate the successful care and support of Medical students and to extend that care and support to all trainees ‹ graduate students, housestaff and fellows," said Dr. John E. Chapman, dean of the School of Medicine.

A primary component of that goal was the creation of three Senior Associate Dean positions ‹ for Medical Education, Faculty and Academic Administrative Affairs, and Education in the Biomedical Sciences. For the first time, the Office of the Dean will be responsible for overseeing medical house staff as well as graduate students.

"This is primarily a rearrangement and elaboration of responsibilities," Chapman said. "I am very positive about the changes, which I believe will enable us to achieve better results as we jointly address the needs of students and faculty across the institution."

The aim of the restructuring ‹ formulated during the strategic planning for VUMC's academic enterprise ‹ is to continue to provide a high level of attention and support for all the institution's medical educational programs; to duplicate in all programs the successes registered in the medical student programs; and to coordinate the medical school's educational planning across all programs.

"The faculty-driven Academic Strategic Plan recommended several initiatives in research and education," said Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs. "Success in accomplishing our ambitious goals in both areas will require expanded and focused leadership.

"On the research side, the appointment of Dr. Limbird as associate vice chancellor for Research and the commitment to an expanded infrastructure to support research will help us reach our goals of 15 percent annual increases in research funding, expansion of the research-focused faculty, development of more interdisciplinary research programs and the expansion of research space.

"The restructuring of the dean's office with three Senior Associate Deans, each focused on an important component of our education enterprise ‹ training for careers in clinical health care; training for careers in biomedical research; and faculty development ‹ is essential.

"Our future will be heavily dependent upon the success of our trainees as well as our retention and development of the best faculty," Jacobson said.

The restructuring also ensures that the school will be in position to adapt to future needs, Chapman said.

"This revision of the administrative structure of the dean's office gives us the ability to be more comprehensively involved across the medical center as an agent of leadership, service coordination and innovation in matters of teaching and learning."

The creation of the three Senior Associate deanships is a key component of that flexibility and service. Each position has been filled by a current faculty member who is no stranger to education at Vanderbilt.

As Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education, Dr. Deborah C. German will be responsible for medical students, house staff and clinical fellows.

"I am delighted to have greater responsibilities in medical education at Vanderbilt," German said. "We have done well with the medical students ‹ we attract the best; they are happy to be here; and they leave with great matches. This must continue for students but also for residents and fellows.

"I am looking forward to working with departments on graduate medical education and Vanderbilt has excellent residency and fellowship programs. One of the challenges for these programs is to excel in the face of threats to funding and increased regulation.

"As an institution, we have all the ingredients for success, which gives me optimism about my new role," German said.

Dr. Gerald S. Gotterer has been named to the position of Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Administrative Affairs. In this role, Gotterer will focus on programs governing faculty appointments and promotions, faculty affairs and continuing medical education.

"This position will develop programs that will enhance faculty teaching skills and otherwise support faculty in their teaching mission," Gotterer said. "We will undertake research that will lead to increased understanding of and improvement in the educational process and will actively work with department chairs and physician-scientists on the faculty to formulate programs that will support their career development.

"In addition, the office is committed to growth and development in the activities of the Division of Continuing Medical Education, not only as it supports the continuing education of physicians within the medical center, but also as it serves to enhance clinical practice in the local community and nation," Gotterer said.

In his new position as Senior Associate Dean for Education in the Biomedical Sciences, G. Roger Chalkley, Ph.D., will oversee the School of Medicine's biomedical sciences-related education programs, including those involving all (Ph.D.), M.D./Ph.D., M.S. (Hearing and Speech) students as well as postdoctoral research fellows.

"Having clearly defined lines of responsibility will allow all of us to know who is doing what," Chalkley said. "Already I see this as increasing the synergism among often widely different activities within the school. This reorganization will allow the medical school to focus on many issues for which we simply didn't have the time or resources in the past.

"A prime example are the post-doctoral fellows, who play such an important role in the research done here, but who, until now, did not have much of a voice. Also, the graduate student community, which has matured greatly over the last decade, stands to benefit immensely as they can now be seen to partake of their full share in the educational process of the institution," Chalkley said.