May 22, 2020 by
Richard L. Page
Dear Larner Community:
We, and our entire state, can be proud of the progress made in limiting COVID-19 over the past three months. As such, Vermont is among the states most prepared for the gradual reopening allowed by our governor and being undertaken in our teaching, clinical and research missions. I ask you continue to follow the regular messages about those areas. Please note that we all are obligated to complete our state COVID-19 Mandatory Health and Safety Training prior to returning.
I hope that many of you will be able join the Faculty Meeting/Town Hall today. We will share the latest draft of Vision 2025: A Unified Strategic Plan for the Larner College of Medicine. Our College was due for a new strategic plan, and with our LCME site visit coming in April 2021, this is a good time to define who we are, what we care about, and our plans for the future. I appreciate the contributions we receive from many of you in various venues over the last 12 months. Based on the resulting SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, this plan has been developed and further improved through review by various groups, most recently the College of Medicine Advisory Committee (COMAC). We intend to finalize this Strategic Plan in the coming weeks and use this document to guide our progress in the coming years.
Even as we look to our future, last week we said goodbye to the wonderful class of 2020. Medical Commencement 2020 (I never call it “virtual”) occurred using Zoom on Sunday. And thanks to our outstanding staff, Associate Dean for Technology/CIO Jill Jemison, Gordon White, Bruce Kimball, Jason Towsley, Vicki Gilwee, Colleen Case, Elizabeth Dohrman, Ed Neuert and Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education Christa Zehle and I had the opportunity to bring the world into the homes of 105 students as they received their doctoral hoods. In addition to participation by President Suresh Garimella (his first “live” graduation), medical luminaries who joined us on-line included Dr. Stephen Leffler, Dr. Laurie Leclair, Dr. Lewis First, and our invited commencement speaker, Dr. Joia Mukherjee. The show-stopper was certainly the special surprise visit from our own Mike Cross. We wish our graduates well, as they enter a health care environment that needs good doctors more than ever.
As of today, I will have participated in three Larner town halls, two special meetings to discuss reentry, and five Town Halls with our medical students and graduate students. Even with physical distancing, I am so thankful to have the technology that allows us to interact together in a meaningful way. Today I also counted 12 weeks in a row where I have sent at least one of these messages to our community. I plan to reduce the frequency, which is a good sign. I will always strive to connect with you when important issues need to be communicated or discussed.
I’ll close with the final words from my letter of March 11, even more true today:
As our state’s only college of medicine, with faculty serving our state’s only tertiary/quaternary medical center, we have a unique obligation to our students, faculty, staff and community. I am proud of the efforts that have already been undertaken and am confident that we can address this challenge based on science, public health expertise, professionalism and compassion. As always, thank you for everything you do.