Senior vice president Frank Cerra delivered the 2007 State of the AHC address Jan. 31 in Mayo Memorial Auditorium.
State of the AHC 2007
U's Academic Health Center aims to be premier destination for students, faculty and patients
By Jim Thorp
Brief, Feb. 7, 2007
Drawing on the University of Minnesota's historic mission and current trends in health care, education and research, senior vice president for health sciences Frank Cerra outlined a five-year progressive vision for the Academic Health Center during his annual State of the AHC address Jan. 31.
The address was delivered to a near-capacity crowd of students, faculty and staff in the newly remodeled, historic Mayo Memorial Auditorium and was telecast to U campuses in Duluth, Rochester and St. Paul.
Cerra's vision for the future of the AHC is based on extensive consultation with AHC faculty, staff and students. The process generated three principles that correspond to the U's three-fold mission of teaching, research and service:
- Distinctive education. By 2011, the AHC will offer an interdisciplinary approach to the health sciences that sets it apart from peer institutions, will be meeting the demand for health care professionals in the state, and will facilitate the rapid dissemination of health care information among researchers, educators, students, practitioners and the public. Investments in technology and training, community partnerships for education, improved and more diverse facilities and services, and flexible learning environments that meet the needs of the next generation of high-performing students are all critical to this transformation.
- Talent magnet. The best universities are self-sustaining: top faculty members attract funding and students, which serve to attract and retain new faculty. In addition to improving faculty recruitment and retention, the AHC's vision includes successfully competing for sponsored project funding, achieving national recognition for focused areas of excellence in interdisciplinary research and becoming a national model for relations with business and technology commercialization. To do this, the AHC must find more effective ways to compete for funding and manage relationships -- including tapping the wisdom of its most experienced faculty members.
- Destination of choice. University of Minnesota Physicians chair Roby Thompson has said, "Clinical excellence will be our route to academic prominence." The AHC aspires to be the choice for people seeking the best care in the region or the world by expanding clinical practice across all disciplines and health needs and fostering greater collaboration among information centers, health care delivery systems, practitioners and researchers. Decreasing funding and competition between potential partners remain critical issues but are not insurmountable.
WIRED FOR THE FUTURE
The newly renovated Mayo Memorial Auditorium provided the perfect backdrop to discuss the AHC's technology needs for teaching, learning and research. The historic structure now boasts state-of-the-art technology for recording and webcasting audio, video and presentations, as well as for real-time question-and-answer sessions via the Web.
SEE FOR YOURSELF
For more on the State of the AHC, view the video of the speech with an automated view of the accompanying presentation. Please note: The chat function that displays with the video was available only during the live speech.
While Cerra acknowledged competitive pressures and the need for new research space and upgraded technology infrastructure, he offered an upbeat assessment of the AHC and its relationship to the University overall. "[The Academic Health Center] is increasingly recognized for the growing strength of its faculty, the rigor and vitality of its degree programs, and the impact of its clinics and hospitals on the health of the community. Our reputation is leading others in the state to say to us, 'We want to be your partner,'" said Cerra. "Student application rates are way up. ... [Deans] are feeling the pressure of having to disappoint high-achieving students who are denied entry to our schools."
Cerra also said that the AHC is 90-percent effective in recruiting specific faculty members to meet its needs and has developed much more effective methods of identifying, recruiting and retaining faculty despite a highly competitive recruiting environment--all of which helps to support the U's goal of becoming a top-three public research university.
"The health sciences are recognized now as being part of this University and working with it to achieve the aspirational goal--not because 'We need the University and they need us,' but because we are one."
The speech was preceded by the AHC Faculty Assembly and followed by a reception and tours of the renovated building. Mayo Memorial Auditorium was built in the 1950s and has been the site of teaching by world-renowned physicians such as Nobel Prize-winner Louis Ignarro.