In October, I had the privilege of attending the dedication ceremony of the Alpert Medical School’s new education building. I met many people important to the Brown community on my visit, including President Simmons, Dean Wing, the leaders of Brown’s affiliated teaching hospitals, and Governor Chafee, along with proud faculty, staff, students, and alumni. It was a special pleasure to see an honorary doctorate awarded to Herbert Kaplan, president of The Warren Alpert Foundation. I was honored to have shared in such a momentous day—when Rhode Island’s only medical school celebrated the first space dedicated exclusively to medical education in its nearly 40-year history. Since returning from Providence, I have been reflecting on my visit and my hopes for the Brown medical community as it begins this exciting new chapter.
The Importance of the New Building
Beyond serving as a physical manifestation of Brown’s
excellence in medical education, the new school building demonstrates the
University’s engagement in the city. As I said in my President’s Address at the
2011 AAMC Annual Meeting [available on the AAMC Web site, www.aamc.org],
institutions in academic medicine must make and meet locally defined
commitments to fulfilling their respective mission statements, and they should
demonstrate real outcomes from those commitments. Sometimes, I fear we judge
excellence too simplistically and buy into the prestige afforded us by “top-10
lists” or rankings. Real commitment to meeting the needs of the communities
outside our front doors, however, is an example of the new excellence I believe
academic medicine must embrace in its purest form. Alpert Medical School is
acting on this new excellence by reaching beyond College Hill and relocating to
Providence’s newly forming Knowledge District.