From the interim dean: Gratitude for a memorable year

Dr. John HunterJune 27, 2017


As I transition July 5 to the chief clinical officer role, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude for your energy, support and great work this past year.

My year as dean was made memorable by the many faculty, staff and students that I got to know better and the opportunity to understand the incredible range, reach and caliber of the work going on in the school.

Those experiences included participating in the recruitment process for chairs for the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Molecular Microbiology and Immunology and touring basic science labs, deepening my understanding of the impressive science happening at OHSU. I hope to continue these lab tours for my own curiosity and to continue building my understanding of the rich academic tapestry that makes working at OHSU so exciting and seeking care here so attractive.

Other rewarding projects included supporting Drs. David Ellison, Sharon Anderson, Mary Heinricher and their ad hoc committee in updating and improving the faculty appointment and promotion policy, as well as working with Jamie Thayer, Rebecca Auman and John Hembroff at the OHSU Foundation to better define the philanthropic needs of faculty and the school. Our philanthropic projects included the DeNorval Unthank Health Equity Lecture with donors William and Nathalie Johnson; welcoming Dr. Jennifer DeVoe as the inaugural John & Sherrie Saultz Endowed Professorship in Family Medicine, and presenting Dr. Paul Flint with the Dean's Award for his outstanding leadership of our professional board and several other initiatives critical to the success of the School of Medicine.

Among the events that I took the most pride in were the School of Medicine Honors & Awards Ceremony, the OHSU Convocation and M.D. Hooding Ceremony, the investiture of new endowed professorships, the OHSU Diversity and Inclusion Awards, and the Gun Violence as a Public Health Issue forums so powerfully led by Drs. Brian Gibbs and Alisha Moreland-Capuia and Leslie Garcia, M.P.A.

It was an honor and a pleasure to work on OHSU President Joe Robertson's executive team, a team of "seasoned hands" Connie Seeley and Lawrence Furnstahl, and "newbies" like myself, Provost Elena Andresen, Alice Cupril Comas (our new chief legal counsel), and Hospital CEO Mitch Wasden. I have especially enjoyed working with Mitch to close the 'whitespace' between the clinicians and the health system. Whether sharing a cup of coffee and a Diet Coke at 6:30 a.m., molding a clinical enterprise retreat focused on culture, strategy and metrics, or making road trips to our community health system partners, it has been an enjoyable education and partnership.

I am especially grateful to the four senior associate deans, who could run the school ably (and without interference!) on their own. I will remember joining Dr. George Mejicano in Southern Oregon to meet with more than a dozen Medford physicians for a dialogue about medical school admissions last November and participating in the recruitment process for a new associate dean for graduate medical education (GME), and collaborating with Dr. Mary Stenzel-Poore on a vision for the enhancement and integration of science across the school, on chair recruitments and on other programs to advance science such as a new Dean's Innovation Fund to support trainees across labs (more to come on that soon) and a proposal to recruit new physician-scientists to OHSU via the school's Collaborative Recruitment Pool program. I have been pleased to increasingly partner with Anthony Masciotra and his team on clinical integration across our expanding network, as well as beginning to solve some – if not all – of our capacity and access challenges. The two clinical retreats, the icy OHSU Practice Plan retreat in February, and the sunny clinical enterprise retreat in June were also high points. And, when budget time came around, I marveled at the steady hand of Irene Barhyte and her team, who despite the complexity of this year's budget puzzle, remained unflappable and solution-oriented, with Irene always leading with her trademark, "We can do that."

These four could not be as effective without the larger Dean's office team and the work of administrators and so many others in our departments who make operations hum. Special thanks to Nicole Lockart, who in addition to serving as assistant dean for Faculty Affairs and Administration, is also our representative on the OHSU emergency operations team; Cathy Villagomez, our outstanding administrative manager in the Dean's office, and Shawna Shope, executive assistant to the dean, who handled my impossible calendar and set me up for success.

Thank you also to our excellent communications team of Erin Hoover Barnett, Rachel Shafer and Jennifer Smith, who stitch us all together by telling us what we need to know and sharing the news with our community, whether the news was good or not quite so uplifting.    

It has been a hard yet good year, and I am excited for the future with the leadership of incoming Dean Sharon Anderson and the work we will do together to become more interwoven with our clinical partners and truly create a web of care that will serve more Oregonians.

Thank you again and I look forward to our continued accomplishments.

John Hunter, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Interim Dean
OHSU School of Medicine