Message from Dean Richardson: Imagine the future with us

January 31, 2013

Dean RichardsonThis month, Senior Associate Dean for Education George Mejicano, M.D., presented a lecture as part of the School of Medicine's year-long lecture series — "Imagine the future with us" — marking our 125th anniversary. Dr. Mejicano talked about the "educational comet" headed our way. He posited a radically changed future for the global university system when credits, diplomas and even centralized tuition are eliminated as content increasingly moves online. In this alternate system, some aspects of academia will evolve such that instructor and course quality will be vetted via student crowd-sourcing and the desired outcome will be a competency badge to present to future employers.

It was an enjoyable and eye-opening lecture, but what happened after the talk impressed me, too. Many faculty, students and guests stayed behind for more than an hour to discuss the topics Dr. Mejicano raised and to debate how they might manifest in heath care and scientific education. I heard and participated in several threads of these lively conversations. Such open discussion and engagement about our future is exactly what the lecture series is designed to catalyze. These kinds of conversations are sorely needed not only in our medical school but also across all of academic medicine. This level of engagement and thinking about our shared future has never been more important to our long-term success – for two reasons.

First, the external forces shaping the future of academic medicine are profound and are already exerting their influence, from the steady march of technology to sweeping health care reform. The ideas that will drive our creative adaptation and shape the solutions in this complex setting will stem from the kind of healthy debate among our faculty, students, alumni, community partners and others – across all departments, centers and institutes, and at every level – that I witnessed after Dr. Mejicano's lecture.

Second, the increasing complexity of the interplay between our missions of education, discovery, health care and outreach demand that our model for leadership also evolve. Association for American Medical Colleges President Darrell Kirch, M.D., nicely summarized this in his 2012 annual address, calling this new culture one in which "leadership no longer represents a special gift or power held by a select few. Instead, it is a relationship established among committed people. It becomes a shared opportunity for all of us at any level." In other words, leadership emerges from conversations of the sort that occurred after Dr. Mejicano's lecture and the interprofessional collaborations that ensue.

To mark our 125th anniversary, we've invited speakers to stir up discussions – at all levels of our medical school – about the opportunities of the future and the role of academic medicine in the 21st century. Authors, educators, scientists, government leaders and others are part of the list of thinkers who will "imagine the future with us." But this is just one opportunity to spark our imaginations. Another is as straightforward as turning to your colleagues in your lab, clinic, classroom and elsewhere and starting the conversation. How do you imagine the future? What can we do in our own setting to adapt to the future?

While there are many external forces to navigate in the coming years, with your engagement,leadership and commitment, I know an exciting future for our community and profession is ahead. 

Best Regards,

Mark Richardson

Mark Richardson, MD, MBA
Dean, OHSU School of Medicine
President, Faculty Practice Plan


125 Lecture Series

  • The list of speakers for the 125th Anniversary Series is here, along with recordings for those speakers who provided permission.