“There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened.”

-Astronaut James Lovell

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

A Special Gift…

We promised some great news coming out of the Dean’s Reception during Alumni Weekend this past Friday. This, of course, is news in addition to the fact that so many of our awesome alumni were here catching up with each other, with their school, checking out our Harrison Commons, and just having a great time. It was in this fitting setting that our MCG Foundation announced a $1 million gift to help retire the $13.5 million in remaining debt on our beautiful new building. As our Foundation Chairman, Dr. Sandra Freedman, shared, this gift is yet another investment in MCG and sweet inspiration for future philanthropy. We cannot thank our alumni and foundation enough for their loyalty and support. Inspirational is definitely the word for the gift and for the weekend. See http://bit.ly/1DYjvcL and http://bit.ly/1EUqB8Q.

Amazing Young Alums…

We talk often about how amazing our alumni are and how our students hold such promise of greatness to come. Here are more great examples. One of the new, really cool traditions of our university is annually honoring 20 outstanding young alumni during Alumni Weekend. This year, MCG’s representatives among that group included Augusta native, Dr. Donald Loebl, a 2003 graduate, and current California dweller, Dr. Wendy Madkan from the Class of 2004. Many of you may know Dr. Loebl who completed residency and fellowship training at University of Alabama at Birmingham and practices pulmonary and critical care medicine with our other colleagues at University Hospital. What you may not know is that he taught high school science for a year before he came to us. Dr. Madkan is an Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA where the residents have NEVER given her anything but perfect evaluations.

Making Their Mark…

Another young honoree was Dr. Madkan’s classmate, Dr. Nina Krimshtein, who also practices pulmonary, critical care, and palliative medicine and is with the Permanente Medical Group in Atlanta. She completed her residency at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Finally, Dr. Mark Witcher, a graduate of our school as well at The Graduate School, where he got a Ph.D. with distinction in neuroscience. He’s completing a neurosurgery residency at Wake Forest before coming back to Emory for a fellowship. Whew.  Seriously terrific honorees who continue to make their medical school proud.

More-Senior Alums… Who Continue to Make Theirs

Meanwhile, Sunday morning the Emeritus Club gathered. It was definitely and simply inspiring again to stand for a few moments beside such a lifetime of commitment to medicine and to MCG. To be with individuals such as our esteemed medical historian Dr. Lois T. Ellison and longtime Augusta surgeon Dr. Harold S. “Chubby” Engler, both 1950 graduates, as well as Dr. Alva H. Faulkner, a 1945 graduate, who has been practicing obstetrics and gynecology in Augusta for 70 years! There were nothing but heartfelt  remarks about how MCG has stood our senior colleagues in great stead throughout their fortunately long lives and careers across our state and nation.

 Saying Goodbye… To Friends Who Will Not Be Forgotten

During this wonderful weekend of reunion and reminiscing, we bid farewell to 40 of our alumni who died this past year, as we heard time and again of excellent examples of lives well lived. Dr. Ira E. Bell Jr., was born and raised on his family’s Elbert County, Ga., cotton farm, and left his hometown for college and later our medical school, a choice, we are told, that he made at least in part because of the loss of a childhood friend. He graduated from MCG in 1945; rose to the rank of Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps; was Chief Resident in Radiology at Duke; practiced in Morgantown and Hickory, N.C.; was on the faculty at Wake Forest; did additional training in radiation therapy and radiation oncology and served on the faculty at Tufts; helped raise four children; ultimately returned to N.C; enjoyed walking the Blue Ridge Parkway; died at age 93; and his ashes were returned to north Georgia. Our Chaplain Jeff Flowers shared with the great turnout of families and friends how life is a journey filled with many twists and turns but, that if we pause in the midst, also with great meaning and purpose. No doubt true for the fine individuals honored at this elegant annual memorial.

Saying Hello… To Heroes

We have to share just one more thing with those of you who could not be with us last weekend. Two heroes of a different kind than we usually discuss, also were with us, Apollo astronaut Jim Lovell and Flight Director Gene Kranz. Again, there was that overwhelming feeling of standing amidst greatness as the pair shared again how teamwork circumvented the potential tragedy of that exploding oxygen tank on Apollo 13. Many of you know what that is like, because you are part of a team that has intervened to help a patient survive. These great American heroes met with our students, dined with two of our alums and longtime supporters, Drs. Lloyd Schnuck and Roy Witherington, and, once again, just generally inspired us. Just terrific. See http://bit.ly/1DMtF0Q.

Celebrating the Next Generation…

It’s definitely an amazing time of year at our medical school and university. In fact, by the time we talk in this forum next week, we will have celebrated Hooding for the 179th graduating class of the Medical College of Georgia. Wow. For those of us privileged to be physicians, this is really another huge day, in our case, where our stellar students, our future alums, wear the academic colors of their medical school and take The Hippocratic Oath. No doubt, our keynote Speaker, Dr. James Olds, Assistant Director for the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Biological Sciences, will help make this day even more memorable with his talk, “Threads of Connection: Biology and Medicine in the 21st Century.” This year we are also honored to have Dr. Wright Caughman, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs at Emory, providing his insight on, “The Art of Medicine.” We simply can’t wait for this amazing celebration, beginning at 2 p.m. May 7, at The Augusta Convention Center. Many, many thanks to Academic Affairs for making Hooding happen.

And You…

Finally today, we thank each of you for sharing in the joy of your State of the College address earlier today. As we’ve said so many times, we truly love any opportunity for introspection and appreciation. You are each amazing and it absolutely shows. Check yourselves out here in this video on our home page, http://www.gru.edu/mcg/. We also want to applaud here two very special honorees, our Dr. Charlie Howell, a 1973 graduate and advocate for children and families who has served as Chief of the MCG Section of Pediatric Surgery for more than 20 years and Surgery Chairman since 2011, who is this year’s recipient of our Professionalism Award. And, Joel Wernick, Phoebe Putney Health System’s President and CEO for more than a quarter of a century, who received our Community Advocate Award. As many of you know, this year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our Southwest Campus, based at Phoebe in awesome Albany, and encompassing Tifton, Cordele, Valdosta, LaGrange, Americus, Thomasville, and Columbus. We thank Dr. Steven Kitchen, another terrific MCG alum and Phoebe’s CMO, for accepting the award for Mr. Wernick, who could not be with us.  See http://greport.gru.edu/archives/16230. What amazing advocates and partners for great health and great medical education.


Upcoming Events

 Tomorrow, May 2 – Our Cancer Center is a sponsor for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Augusta, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.at Westside High School track, visit http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLCY15SA?pg=entry&fr_id=64385 or http://gru.edu/cancer/relay/volunteer.php.

May 4 – MCG Graduation Dinner, 6:30 p.m., Palmetto Terrace, North Augusta, http://www.northaugusta.net/community/facility-rentals/palmetto-terrace.

May 7 – Hooding Ceremony, 2-4 p.m., The Augusta Convention Center, 901 Reynolds St., (New location!), Dr. James L. Olds, Assistant Director for the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO), the National Science Foundation.

May 8 – Graduation, 2 p.m., James Brown Arena.

May 14 – MCG Faculty Senate Awards Ceremony, 5 p.m., large classroom, Harrison Commons.

June 25 – MCG Investiture Ceremony, 5:30 p.m., location to be determined.

July 14 – Town Hall meeting with students, noon-1 p.m., Harrison Commons, GB 1220A.

Oct. 27 – Town Hall meeting with students, noon-1 p.m., Harrison Commons, GB 1220A.

Nov. 13 – Body Donation Memorial Service, 1 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

Jan. 12 – Town Hall meeting with students, noon-1 p.m., Harrison Commons, GB 1220A.


Thank you again for all your hard work and please enjoy the weekend!

Leave a Reply