Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”   -William Butler Yeats


Taking Care of Students… Every Day

We told you late last summer about how we had named a stellar group of four associate deans so each class of our students would have its very own. The goal, of course, was enhanced support for and communication with our super students. With our huge class size – have we mentioned lately that we have the eighth largest freshman class in the nation!? – this seemed like a super idea and experience is proving that true. Our Office of Academic Affairs is getting great feedback on these individuals who have become an integral part of our students’ lives.  The line up includes Dr. Lynnette Bauza, first-year class; Dr. Greer Falls, second-year class; Dr. Eric Lewkowiez, third-year class; and Dr. Kathy McKie, for the senior class. No doubt most of you and certainly all our students know Dr. McKie who had previously, admirably, and gladly managed those responsibilities for all four classes.  We want you to know that Dr. McKie has decided to retire and, while she will always be missed, we are super happy for her and incredibly grateful for her relentless support of our students. She ALWAYS gets the hugs at any student gathering so you can really feel the emotion that goes from Dr. McKie to our students and back. We also want you to know that Dr. Stewart Shevitz, a psychiatrist and established educator who is also a sincere, super-approachable individual, is our new Associate Dean for the senior class. This promises to be another strong bond in the making and we thank Drs. Shevitz and McKie both for their amazing service to our medical school.

 Taking Care of Patients and Research… Every Way

Here’s more of what we are talking about. We talked two weeks ago about Dr. Lu Huber taking on the fortunately rare but potentially deadly condition associated with hemodialysis called calciphylaxis. Well, here is another terrific example of doing your absolute best to help patients and families battle some of the tougher effects of disease. We have written, in fact just last week, about devious cancer. One of the things it is way too good at is spreading and one of the common places that cancers- like breast and lung- spread is to the spine. There it can literally paralyze patients and it can also cause excruciating pain. One of the many things Dr. Spring Kong wanted to do when she came here from the University of Michigan was to provide the latest therapy for these patients who just do not do well with pain meds or standard radiation therapy. So, she teamed up with the awesome likes of neurosurgery and medical physics to make spinal radiosurgery available here. Many of you have likely heard about the gamma knife. Well, this is kind of similar because it delivers a sort of three-dimensional radiation attack on the site or sites where cancer has invaded the spine and uses sophisticated imagery like CT and MRI to make sure it’s a direct hit. This also helps ensure that healthy tissue is minimally affected.  While this unfortunately will not cure the cancer, it provides about a 90 percent control of pain and tumor growth caused by metastasis to the spine and greatly contributes to patients’ quality of life. This is just really terrific. See why you and your medical school seriously rock!

 Is What Makes Our Medical School Rock… And Roll to Greatness

Here’s another reason: We all hear way too much about situations where a lot of folks are hurt at one time, from a natural act like a hurricane or from some very unnatural act like a bombing.  Like many tough situations, the best most of us can do once this has happened is to ensure from that moment forward that the injured individuals get the absolute best care available- and that means getting care quickly. While every hurt is important, in these situations triage puts a sort of order to who gets care first. While it would be great if everyone could be first, the folks who handle these situations assure us that triage is some of the first order that can come in such chaos. It also saves lives. You may know that our Department of Emergency Medicine and Hospitalist Services continues to be absolute leaders in the arena of disaster preparedness. In fact, they have helped develop and teach across the world disaster preparedness courses to help ensure that all types of front line providers -from EMTs to police, whose job and dedication bring them to these disasters- work optimally together to save lives in these tough scenarios. Well, our very own Emergency Department Chair Richard Schwartz just helped develop a new triage protocol for such scenarios, which the Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services has recommended that state and local EMS agencies across this great nation adopt. We second that motion. This protocol is some real basic, common sense kind of stuff that pulls from the best that is out there in military and civilian triage protocols.  And, again, it gives everyone that same sheet of music at a time when consensus and collaboration is absolutely essential. Dr. Schwartz’s funding from the CDC enabled an assessment of what was out there and what worked best, and a large multidisciplinary team, led by Dr. E. Brooke Lerner, professor of emergency medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, sealed the deal by coming up with the new protocol. Way to go everyone.  Once again, talk about seriously looking out for the greater good.

So Thank You for Being Awesome…

That kind of commitment to optimization is really what the doctor ordered in so much of what we do in science, in classrooms, and for patients. Today we say goodbye to another individual who has been making things better here for 33 years. Dr. George Nixon has retired from our Department of Family Medicine, but like Dr. McKie, has left an indelible mark. In his years with us, Dr. Nixon helped us grow well, particularly in our educational and patient care missions, including his service as Director of Student Education and the Family Medicine Clerkship.  He helped us expand and improve student education programs even as our medical school was stretching and growing its class size to better meet the physician needs of our state. Have we mentioned lately that our state constantly ranks among the top 10 in population and population growth? So, we don’t have to tell you how very important this is.  Dr. David  Kriegel, who has worked closely with Dr. Nixon as Associate Director, is our new Director. We thank them both for their commitment to our students, to our medical school and to a healthier tomorrow for us all. Once again, how can we do anything but rock when we are privileged to have such players.

By Absolutely Every Definition…

And finally today, we just have to follow up on the incredible, annual Investiture Ceremony held just last evening. It was truly a remarkable event honoring remarkable individuals, including our new department chairs, new endowed chairs and Regents’ professors, and Professors Emeritus as well. If you could not be there, please allow us to share this with you. No doubt this service was to honor them, yet in rapid succession each honoree stood to honor others, their spouses, children, mentors, staff in their labs and faculty members who are an integral part of their teams and their success. Our new endowed chairs, of course, spoke with great passion and respect for the incredible predecessors who are the namesakes for those chairs. A humble, accomplished, and grateful group is what these fine folks are and true leaders in their fields and in life as well. As Lael Reinstatler, President of the Class of 2015 said, they had risen to every occasion without being asked, put aside their needs for the needs of others, and our students have been watching. “We will continue to learn from you and be inspired by you,” she said. We absolutely will as well. We proudly list here the 2014 honorees:  Endowed Chairs Zahid Amin, MBBS – William B. Strong, M.D. Chair in Pediatric Cardiology; Esteban Celis, MD/PhD – Cecil F. Whitaker, Jr., M.D./GRA Eminent Scholar Chair in Cancer; Joseph Hobbs, MD – GAFP Joseph W. Tollison, M.D. Distinguished University Chair; Michael Madaio, MD – Virgil P. Sydenstricker, M.D. Chair; James V. Rawson, MD – P.L., J. Luther, Ada Warren Endowed Chair; Gurmukh Singh, MD/PhD – Dr. Walter L. Shepeard Clinical Pathology Chair; and Selina Smith, PhD – Curtis G. Hames, M.D. Distinguished Chair for the Department of Family Medicine. Regents’ Professors, Carlos Isales, MD and Sylvia B. Smith, PhD. Department Chairs Feng-Ming (Spring) Kong, MD/PhD – Radiation Oncology; Lin Mei, PhD – Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine; and Alvin Terry, PhD – Pharmacology and Toxicology. And finally, our distinguished Professors EmeritusEugene K. Betts, MD; John Fisher, MD;  Sandra Freedman, MD;  Michael S. Macfee, MD; W. Chris Sheils, MD; John Steele, MD/PhD; and Diane Turnbull, EdD, our Associate Professor Emeritus.

 Upcoming Events

 June 13 – The Employee Advisory Council Election Ballot 2014 for the university is open through today. Please visit the “Candidate Information Form” to learn more about each candidate.

Through June 14 – The Literacy Summer Summit, a partnership effort of the GRU Literacy Center and the CSRA Reading Council on the Summerville Campus. Open to educators, parents, students, and school and community leaders, the summit features Dr. Marie Carbo, Founder and Executive Director of the National Reading Styles Institute. For additional information, visit or contact Dr. Paulette Harris at 706-729-2045.

June 26 – Healthy Augusta workshop, “Using 2014 County Health Rankings to Inspire Community Action in the CSRA,” Augusta-Richmond County Public Library, 823 Telfair Street, 1-4 p.m. Featured speaker, Stephanie G. Johnson, Community Coach, University of Wisconsin-Madison Population Health Institute. Register at The GRU Institute of Public and Preventive Health provides infrastructure support to Healthy Augusta, a community collaborative to improve health.

Aug. 6 – First day of class for our freshmen!

Sept. 6 – Please mark your calendars for the university’s Day of Service to the community.

Oct. 11 – White Coat Ceremony, 2 pm Bell Auditorium.

Enjoy the weekend!