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Executive Updates

June 2018: Health Science Center Executive Update

Howdy!

As we complete another semester, we have much to celebrate. In May, we held graduation ceremonies across the state, with 684 students across our five colleges receiving degrees. These graduates are well-prepared to improve the health of communities across the state and beyond because of the dedication of Health Science Center faculty and staff. Thanks for all each of you do every day to teach, mentor and nurture these young health professionals.

I would also like to share a few additional recent accomplishments and announcements from across the institution.

Welcome to Nancy Fahrenwald, Dean of the College of Nursing

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Dr. Nancy Fahrenwald as the new Dean of the College of Nursing. A fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, Dr. Fahrenwald has joined Texas A&M after a 22-year career at South Dakota State University—a land-grant university founded by the Morrill Act—where she served as dean of the College of Nursing since 2013. She maintains an active research program in health promotion for rural and underserved populations and serves in national leadership roles in these specialty areas. Dr. Fahrenwald brings vast experience in collaborative leadership and consensus-building, and there is no doubt that she will continue to help bring the diverse health disciplines closer together across the Health Science Center.

I would also like to thank Dr. Regina Bentley, who has served as interim dean since last September. I am happy to report that Dr. Bentley is not going too far. She will remain at Texas A&M and will be the first Assistant Vice Chancellor for Health Services. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to work with her to improve the health of the state.

Healthy South Texas efforts recognized

U.S. News and World Report has extensively covered Healthy South Texas’ efforts along the Texas-Mexico border. They featured the Working on Wellness program, which is reducing the prevalence of diabetes, asthma and infectious diseases in South Texas, and the problem of food deserts in the area. Another article in the publication highlighted the health problems in the colonias and how Texas A&M—among other organizations—is implementing new programs to address these issues. Please read these pieces and learn more about how your colleagues are improving the health of South Texans.

Dental hygiene teacher and dental teacher of the year

Congratulations to Keri Pearson ’92, adjunct assistant professor in dental hygiene, Dr. Amp Miller ’73,’80, professor of restorative sciences and Dr. Stephen McDonald ’80, clinical assistant professor in restorative sciences, for being named the 2018 Dental Hygiene and Dental Teachers of the Year, respectively. Students praised their instruction and mentorship and said they felt very fortunate to be able to learn from them. These recognitions honor the excellence our faculty exhibit every day in helping students become outstanding health professionals.

Caruth School of Dental Hygiene students sweep competition

Congratulations to the three teams of dental hygiene students who won first, second and third place in the Texas Dental Hygienists’ Association informative research poster competition. Caruth students competed against their peers at dental hygiene programs throughout the state, including Texas Woman’s University, the University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston, Collin College and more. It’s an amazing honor for these students and an unprecedented achievement for the college.

College of Pharmacy team wins Walk Across Texas

A team of faculty, staff and administrators from the College of Pharmacy won the Walk Across Texas 2018 grand championship trophy in Kleberg-Kenedy County, outwalking 32 other teams. Although the goal was to walk 830 miles—the width of Texas—in an eight-week timeframe, the team walked more miles than the width of the continental United States—3,295 in total. Congratulations to the members of the eight-person team: Jayshree Mishra, PhD, Rachel Garza, Narendra Kumar, PhD, Ellen Demps, PhD, Victoria Pho, PharmD, Pooja Patel, PharmD, Greg Sawyer, PhD, and Gilbert Reyna. Garza received the top female walker award and Kumar contributed the highest overall miles to the team. Walk Across Texas, part of Healthy South Texas, is a free, eight-week program designed to help Texans establish the habit of regular physical activity.

College of Medicine expands military partnerships

In the first year of the expanded partnership with the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center (CRDAMC) that established CRDAMC as a clinical training site for medical students, 31 students have rotated through the site. Last month, we also formalized a partnership with the U.S. Air Force to establish the Air Force’s 59th Medical Wing as another clinical training site for medical students. Both collaborations will ultimately lead to even better care for the nation’s military and military families while giving additional platforms for training.

College of Pharmacy and School of Public Health recognized for affordability

I’m happy to report that two Health Science Center schools recently received top honors for their affordable degree programs by College Affordability Guide. The Rangel College of Pharmacy was ranked second in the nation for most affordable pharmacy degrees and the School of Public Health also ranked second in the nation for their public health program. Both colleges continually pursue innovative ways to ensure for students a strong, quality education—at a lower cost. The College of Pharmacy ranks among the top 50 pharmacy programs in the nation and the School of Public Health ranks among the top 25 graduate schools, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Health Science Center faculty finalists in X-grants competition

Three Health Science Center faculty-led teams—headed by Marcia Ory, PhD, MPH, at the School of Public Health and Carl Gregory, PhD, and Jon Skare, PhD, both at the College of Medicine—have progressed to the final round of the university X-grants competition. As part of the President's Excellence Fund, this interdisciplinary program brings faculty together across disciplines to unlock creative and imaginative ideas that will significantly impact the most important challenges facing global society. The final proposals were submitted June 4, and the funded projects will be announced later this month. Additionally, as Senior Vice President, I have committed $100,000 to help promising projects that were not selected for funding maintain momentum for next year’s competition.

Marica Ory named new Associate Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives

I’m happy to share that Regents and Distinguished Professor Marcia Ory, PhD, MPH, has agreed to serve as Associate Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives for the Health Science Center. In her new position, Dr. Ory will manage our many community-engagement partnerships and initiatives, which serve as platforms to engage community members across the state. Her primary responsibilities will be strategic leadership of existing community partnerships and creating new partnerships across the Health Science Center and University. Dr. Ory will continue her current roles at the Texas A&M School of Public Health and the Center for Population Health and Aging on a half-time basis. I am honored that Dr. Ory has agreed to take on this important role and know her vast experience working across disciplines and institutional boundaries will help us to have far-reaching impact as we transform the health and quality of life for communities across the state.

Roll out of Grant Advisory Committee

We recently began a Health Science Center-wide Grant Advisory Committee through our Office of Faculty Development’s research arm. The committee will provide information and guidance to faculty interested in pursuing grants. This new, formalized structure will support faculty members during each stage of the process, from conceptualization through the steps of grant writing to final awarding. The committee will increase rate of success for grants submitted to national and state funding agencies. I appreciate the willingness of faculty from the College of Medicine and College of Dentistry who have agreed to assist researchers across the institution in leadership roles within this new committee. Hubert Amrein, PhD, will serve as director of research faculty development, and Jian (Jerry) Q. Feng, PhD, will serve as the associate director. Please feel free to contact either of them with questions.

As we head into summer, thank you for all you do to deliver transformational educational, research and service experiences. This update highlights a selection of some of the accomplishments across the Health Science Center. I know there are so many of you doing remarkable things every day. For real-time updates, please follow me on Twitter @carrie_byington and visit the Vital Record news site.

With gratitude,
Carrie L. Byington, MD