For Your Health
For Your Health

News from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences

From the Dean: And we’re off!

There is a lot going on at the School, to say the least! The recently graduated students – now doctors – in the M.D. Class of 2023 are starting their residencies, first-year students are arriving at the SMHS, the Supreme Court has issued an important decision regarding college admission procedures, and we have some internal organizational changes related to the departure of Dr. Marc Basson, our former Senior Associate Dean for Medicine and Research, who on July 1 became dean of the Northeast Ohio College of Medicine.

The incoming medical student Class of 2027 started their studies this week; Susan and I plan to meet with the entire class next week at a reception we’ll hold to welcome them to Grand Forks, UND, and the SMHS. We truly enjoy this chance to meet with the new students and share our perspectives on what we think are the important ingredients in forging a successful integration of family and professional responsibilities. As two still-practicing cardiologists, Susan and I have spent decades together working to balance family and profession. I’m not sure we have any definitive answers to the work/life balance challenges, but we will share how we’ve tried to navigate this difficult balancing act – of which our students are well aware!

The Supreme Court decision regarding race-conscious admission policies at American universities certainly has garnered a lot of media attention and reflects a complicated dynamic in American life – how can we try to provide equal opportunities for success to all people when it is clear that some of us, through no fault of our own, have not been afforded the same educational opportunities as others. Because we are still in the midst of assessing the potential impact of the decision on the School – especially for our Indians Into Medicine (INMED) program – I’m going to refrain from further comments until we’ve been able to complete a deeper dive into the implications of the decision. That said, let me make it clear that our School’s long-proclaimed diversity focus – on increasing the opportunities in healthcare careers for rural and American Indian candidates – remains unchanged.

Finally, it certainly is with a mixture of sadness and happiness that we start the new academic year without Dr. Marc Basson: sadness because we are losing such a talented administrator, teacher, and researcher; and happiness because Marc has long desired to contribute as a medical school dean, and this is a wonderful opportunity for him to do so. But his departure certainly leaves a huge gap at the SMHS.

So how do we plan to fill this administrative gulf? Fortunately, I’m delighted to indicate that several senior members of our current faculty have agreed to step up to the challenge of trying to fill the void. Dr. Colin Combs, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, has kindly agreed to also function as the School’s Associate Dean for Research. Similarly, Dr. Susan Zelewski, assistant dean for phase 2/3 in the undergraduate medical education program and assistant dean for the Northeast Campus, has kindly agreed to oversee the post-M.D. education, including the continuing medical education program, as the new Associate Dean for Clinical Medical Education. Additionally, Dr. Patrick Carr has agreed to become our new Associate Dean for Medical Curriculum and oversee the entire undergraduate medical program.

Additionally, at least for the foreseeable future, all of the clinical department chairs will report directly to me, as will the newly appointed Associate Dean for Wellness (Dr. Andrew McLean). Otherwise, as you can see here, there are no other major changes planned in the School’s organizational structure.

If you take a glance at the revised organizational chart, you may notice several other adjustments we made with the departure of Dr. Don Warne this past academic year. As we continue the search for replacements, several current faculty members have agreed to provide interim leadership for three key programs and initiatives previously overseen by the multi-talented Dr. Warne. Dr. Holly Brown-Borg, assistant dean for gender equity, has kindly agreed to oversee the School’s diversity, equity, and inclusion activities; Dr. Mel Nadeau is the interim chair of the Department of Indigenous Health; and Dr. Gary Schwartz is overseeing the Master of Public Health program.

I am quite confident that we have the right people in the right positions to enable the SMHS to continue its march forward. So, all the best to Dr. Basson, and I am certain that you can continue to expect great things from the faculty, staff, and students of the UND SMHS!

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