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A Note From Ross Hall

Dear Colleagues,

The decision by George Washington University (GW) President Thomas LeBlanc to name Barbara Lee Bass, MD, RESD ’86, the new vice president for health affairs (VPHA) and dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was greeted with enthusiasm by faculty, students, residents, staff, and alumni.

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Former president of the American College of Surgeons and chair of the Department of Surgery at Houston Methodist Hospital, Dr. Bass has established herself as one of the nation’s leading academic surgeons. As a graduate of the GW surgery residency program and a former member of the GW surgery department, Dr. Bass is well-liked and highly respected by her faculty peers. She is remembered very fondly by the alumni whom I spoke with at the recent GW MD Alumni Reunion Weekend and who rotated on her team during their surgery clerkships. I also listened to many of the graduates thank her for her superb remarks at the 2019 MD Diploma Ceremony as they crossed the stage, accepted their diplomas from me, and shook her hand. Standing next to Dr. Bass on the stage at the ceremony, I noticed that she managed to maintain her broad smile without showing any signs of fatigue while congratulating each of the graduates. I believe that this was good preparation for becoming the next dean. She will be joining GW on Jan. 15, 2020, and I will continue to serve in the VPHA and dean positions until she arrives. Dr. Bass and I have already begun working on the transition, and I look forward to continuing to be available to her as she requests.

Speaking of our recent MD Alumni Reunion Weekend, I was thrilled that we had the largest turnout for the annual event. It was a special reunion for me because it was my last one as dean, and I will miss engaging with my fellow alumni (many of whom I taught along the way). In a moving ceremony held in GW’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, we also unveiled the official portrait of another GW alumnus who served as VPHA and dean, John F. “Skip” Williams Jr., MD ’79, EdD ’96, RESD ’83, MPH, who graduated from the MD program and the anesthesiology and critical care medicine residency. Skip’s classmates from the MD Class of 1979 turned out in force and, as a class, had the highest percentage of donors as well as the highest total giving for their alumni class gift. Congratulations to Skip and the MD Class of 1979!

As I wrap up my final column in Medicine + Health, I want to thank Executive Editor Anne Banner, Managing Editor Thomas Kohout, Associate Editor Katherine Dvorak, Assistant Editor Ashley Rizzardo, and all the writers, photographers, and illustrators who create this award-winning magazine. My goal with Medicine + Health was to engage the reader and expand our outreach to alumni and friends. We’ve worked to show who we are as a school by presenting stories that demonstrate the breadth of the many exciting things happening at GW SMHS; providing insights into our amazing students, staff, faculty, and alumni; and always trying to reflect the powerful diversity of our community. Everything in this magazine ultimately ties back to our noble mission of education, advancing knowledge, and healing, as well as promoting a culture of excellence through inclusion, service, and advocacy to improve the health of our local, national, and global communities. This mission was my guiding star every day in this job as VPHA and dean. I am incredibly grateful and humbled to have had the opportunity to lead this great school in support of our collective efforts to enrich and improve the lives of those we serve. Thank you for your incredible support over the past nine years, and best wishes to Dr. Bass as she embarks on this exciting new chapter.

Jeffrey S. Akman, MD ’81, RESD ’85
Vice President for Health Affairs
Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine
and Dean, School of Medicine and Health Sciences