Congratulations Graduates

May 16, 2012

Steven Stites, MD
Steven Stites, M.D. Acting Executive Vice Chancellor Acting Executive Dean, KU School of Medicine

The most rewarding experience of my short time as Acting Executive Vice Chancellor was this past weekend, as we sent hundreds of newly minted health care professionals out into the workforce.

Bright and early on Saturday at Memorial Hall in downtown Kansas City, Kan., we congratulated the 262 students trained in the School of Health Professions, bestowing 106 undergraduate, 86 master's and 70 doctoral degrees. Later that morning, the School of Nursing celebrated its 237 graduates, including 134 BSN, 80 master's and14 doctoral degrees and nine post-master's certificates.

In the afternoon at Battenfeld Auditorium, we handed out 20 master's degrees in health services administration, 42 master of public health degrees, five masters of science in clinical research and a masters in biostatistics.

At the Lied Center on the Lawrence campus, we celebrated as KU-educated scientists earned Ph.D.s in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, in Cell Biology and Anatomy, in Pathology, in Pharmacology and in Toxicology.

In the School of Medicine, 126 doctors completed their residencies and fellowships. And Saturday night at the Lied Center, we hooded 168 new physicians.

Throughout the day I saw smiles as wide as Kansas. Our students had truly reached a remarkable milestone! But I also let them know that their best greatness lies ahead.

Another recent event allowed us to celebrate remarkable achievements. At the KUMC Promotion & Tenure dinner on May 2 at Beller Conference Center, I got to hear department chairs speak glowingly about their faculty who are rising through our ranks. One by one, I heard about fantastic accomplishments - providing outstanding clinical care, adapting to the new electronic medical records, earning grants, publishing their research. We heard not only about individual accomplishments but about wonderful team players - faculty who had helped build divisions and mentored junior faculty, bringing up our next generation of academicians. For those of you who haven't seen it, the list of our newly promoted and tenured faculty is here.

As many of you have already heard over these last few weeks, I believe that if we all follow five basic rules, we will achieve that best greatness. On Saturday night, I even made all 168 of our new M.D.s repeat those rules aloud:

  • First: Save the patient.
  • Second: Do the Right Thing.
  • Third: Be the Bridge.
  • Fourth: Ask Questions, Seek Answers.
  • Fifth: Those Who Laugh, Last.

Whether our work is in the clinic or the laboratory or the community, all of it is ultimately about saving the patient, hence rule #1. Rule #2 is self-explanatory, but too often we forget. Rule #3 requires us to think and act across our silos, because what we can achieve together is greater than what we can accomplish alone. Rule #4 is what distinguishes us as an academic medical center. Rule #5 should also be self-explanatory - humor is one of life's best forms of medicine. But as I told our new M.D.'s on Saturday night, if we don't follow rules 1-4 and something goes terribly wrong in any given situation, we risk never being able to enjoy rule #5.

I'm not just challenging our graduates and our faculty to follow these rules - I'm challenging all of us. Whatever our role is at the University of Kansas Medical Center, we can celebrate the fact that we work for a great institution - and move forward knowing that our best greatness is still ahead.

A $1.25 million gift to KU Endowment has created the Mabel A. Woodyard Fellowships in Neurodegenerative Disorders at KU Medical Center. The inaugural recipients are Lezi E, a doctoral student in the departments of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences and Neurology; and Michelle Healy Stoffel, a medical and doctoral student in the Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics. Details here.

Three KUMC faculty members are recipients of this year's Chancellor’s Awards for Outstanding Classroom Teaching. Congratulations to Won Choi, Ph.D., MPH, associate professor of preventive medicine and public health; John Dorsch, M.D., associate professor of family and community medicine; and Beth Levant, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology, toxicology and therapeutics.

Deborah G. Haynes, M.D., F.A.A.F.P., was named the 2012 Kansas Family Physician of the Year by the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians. Dr. Haynes is a KU School of Medicine–Wichita graduate and a Family & Community Medicine clinical professor. She is the first female recipient of this award.

Congratulations to Sandra Billinger, PT, Ph.D., assistant professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation science, and her many colleagues for putting together an exciting Exercise is Medicine 2012 event coming up this Friday, May 18. Keynote speaker Michael J. Joyner, M.D., professor of anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., joins KUMC presenters Christie Befort, Ph.D., Ann Davis, Ph.D., M.P.H., and other invited guests in an effort to encourage primary health care providers to include exercise when designing treatment plans for patients. In recognition of their work, Gov. Sam Brownback proclaimed May as Exercise In Medicine month.

A retirement reception for Judith Reagan, the longtime director of KUMC's International Program, will be held on May 22 from 3:30-5:00 p.m., at the School of Nursing Atrium.

Last modified: Jun 19, 2012