August 11, 2000

VUSM admissions changes guard

Featured Image

Dr. John Lukens

VUSM admissions changes guard

Dr. Harold Helderman

Dr. Harold Helderman

After nearly a decade spent enhancing Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s ability to attract the highest quality students, Dr. John N. Lukens Jr., professor of Pediatrics, has stepped down from his role as chair of admissions.

Dr. J. Harold Helderman, professor of Medicine, has been named to succeed him. Dr. John A. Zic, assistant professor of Medicine, has been named co-chair.

As chair of admissions, Lukens led the committee — composed of 15 faculty members and two medical students — charged with the daunting task of sifting through applications and deliberating on who should be invited to study here.

He also formally invited the classes, advised medical school leadership on admissions policies and represented the admissions committee in all matters.

“Admission to medical school is one of the most critical initiatives performed by the faculty,” said Dr. John E. Chapman, dean of the School of Medicine. “Here, applicants are admitted based on the recommendation of the admissions committee, which is composed of faculty.

“In short, students are admitted by faculty members to study with those same faculty members. By any measure, Dr. Lukens has performed these initiatives exceedingly well,” Chapman said.

Dr. Deborah C. German, senior associate dean for medical education, said Lukens handled the complex task of chair of admissions with uncommon skill.

“Dr. Lukens has wonderful interpersonal skills and is possessed of extraordinary vision, insight and a great deal of common sense. He’s handled his duties with dignity and integrity and has been an excellent ambassador for the school.

“During his tenure the school has risen in recognition and climbed in status from an excellent regional school to an excellent national school,” German said.

Lukens said he will miss being involved with the process of evaluating and admitting tomorrow’s physician’s.

“Most rewarding to me has been the opportunity to meet so many outstanding men and women with a common interest in Medicine,” Lukens said.

“And I will miss working with the admissions committee. They are a group of individuals with a deep commitment to the school and to recruiting the best students.”

Helderman, a long-time member of the admissions committee, said Lukens had the unique ability to find students who would be the best “fit” for the school.

“Dr. Lukens is one of the heroes of the medical enterprise and his work as chair of admissions has been extraordinary,” Helderman said. “Compared with when he started, grade point averages and MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) scores of incoming students have risen.

“His work is allowing us to compete strongly with the top 10 medical schools in the country for the best-prepared applicants and, for several years in a row, graduating medical students have rated us number one in terms of satisfaction with their education. These are signs that students are happy here.”

Helderman is excited about the opportunity to carry on an and enhance the efforts to secure the top applicants available.

It’s a critical process with long-range ramifications, for today’s medical students have a habit of becoming tomorrow’s faculty members, Helderman said.

“The position of chair of admissions is an awesome responsibility and an opportunity to help choose who will be here for awhile,” Helderman said.

“Many students go on to become house staff members here and eventually faculty members, so we are in many ways helping to determine who our colleagues will be.”

According to Lukens, Helderman is the right choice to lead the school’s admissions efforts.

“Hal has been a very committed member for several years. He always manages to review a great many applications and is very knowledgeable about other schools and their curriculums. Most of all, he is a very good judge of people,” Lukens said.

German said Helderman will help build on what is already a strength of the medical school.

“Dr. Helderman has an excellent foundation on which to build.

“He’s been handed a program in very good shape, and my hope is he will bring it to the next level,” she said.