From the Dean

I have some exciting news to report. I just learned that our first choice for MD White Coat Ceremony speaker this August has accepted our invitation. As you may recall, various health profession programs, including our medical, physical therapy and physician assistant studies students, have ceremonies where the students are presented with white coats as a symbol of joining the healing arts. The medical student Class of 2023 that starts this August will receive their white coats on the afternoon of Aug. 9, 2019. On hand to deliver the celebratory address will be Dr. David Skorton. I’ve known Dave since we both were academic cardiologists, he at the University of Iowa and me at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now Brigham and Women’s) and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Skorton went on to an illustrious career as an administrator and leader in higher education. After a stint as vice president for research at Iowa, he became president of the University and among other accomplishments helped to raise over $1 billion in philanthropic support. He then moved to the presidency at Cornell University, where he oversaw a fundraising effort that netted over $5 billion! Currently, Dave serves as secretary (director) of the esteemed Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

This coming July, Dave will transition to his new role as president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), also in Washington, D.C. The AAMC is the national organization that works for and represents all of the medical schools in the United States. As you may recall, the outgoing AAMC president, Dr. Darrell Kirch, was our special guest speaker at the grand opening gala for the new SMHS building in Grand Forks back on Oct. 14, 2016. Dave takes over for Darrell in July, and his visit to UND will be his very first visit after assuming the leadership position at the AAMC. Our preliminary plan is to have Dr. Skorton here for the full day on Aug. 9. We plan to have him meet with students and faculty members before the White Coat ceremony that will take place late that afternoon. Because of his broad interests and experiences in health care and higher education, we plan to have him meet with our health sciences students and faculty as well, along with colleagues from across campus. It promises to be an exciting and informative visit. Please take a minute to mark your calendars for this special event—it promises to be a memorable one!

Finally, the slides from my State of the School address at last week’s Faculty Assembly are now posted on our website. I appreciate all of you who were able to attend in person, and for those who had scheduling conflicts, please review the presentation. I really welcome further comments and feedback; we had a good exchange in person, and I’d really like to continue the discussion. I’d especially welcome suggestions and thoughts about one of the proposals I discussed—namely, the establishment of a committee to work on developing better metrics for assessing the accomplishments in the three core activities of our SMHS faculty members (education, discovery, and service). Please be in touch with any suggestions or thoughts you may have either in person or by email (

Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
UND Vice President for Health Affairs
Dean, UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences