Dean's Message, February 2023

Feb 01, 2023

Good afternoon!

Sharing messages with our FSU College of Medicine family is nothing new for me, though most often I’m focusing on various aspects of our medical education program, the curriculum and the administrative matters that are a part of our everyday life. This message feels different because today is my first day as your new interim dean. To say I am honored for this opportunity is an understatement.

Like most of you, I was drawn to this medical school by its mission. My life is enriched by the challenges we take on together so that we can serve our communities, especially the vulnerable and the medically underserved. I was raised in such a community just down the road in Quincy, and I know from personal experience – and from witnessing the obstacles faced by friends and neighbors – how important our mission really is.

When I meet our remarkable students and speak with our talented faculty members and staff, I am consistently buoyed by the confidence that comes with knowing our mission has brought us wonderful people who are committed to the same cause.

By many metrics, we are exceling in our mission, producing physicians, physician assistants and scientists who truly are making a difference in the world. What better reason to go to work every day?

As FSU Provost Jim Clark said when announcing that I had accepted this new role, the length of this assignment is not presently known. The search for a permanent dean has paused for the time being and nothing has been determined as to when it might resume.

Doesn’t matter. My intent is to serve as your leader for as long as I am needed and to focus each day on the ways we can work together to meet our goals.

Yet I acknowledge that the challenges are real:

  • We are embarking on new and exciting projects to develop a research and education facility near Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare vital to Florida State’s ambitions for growth in discovery. The medical school will play a major role.
  • You probably saw the news recently about the groundbreaking ceremony that took place in Panama City Beach, where we are partnering with the St. Joe Company and TMH to develop a clinical, educational and research “medical campus” in a community that will grow to include 3,500 homes in the coming years. Again, the medical school will be expected to be a large contributor to that effort.
  • Closer to home, we continue to seek the best way to grow our clinical practices (collectively known as the Florida Medical Practice Plan), including but not limited to FSU SeniorHealth, FSU PrimaryHealth and FSU BehavioralHealth.
  • Our graduate medical education programs will expand in the near future to include a new psychiatry residency program and additional fellowships.
  • The best sign that we are no longer in the early stages of our development as a medical school is that we continue to lose good people to retirement and sometimes to other universities. There certainly will be additional challenges in this area as we are forced to replace people who have played important roles in our success.

I am confident that we can meet all the challenges in front of us with the full support of our university.

Provost Clark and FSU President Richard McCullough have made clear they value the College of Medicine’s success in achieving its mission and have committed to supporting and investing in our future. It’s clear, we are taking on these challenges together.

Please join me in the atrium on Friday (Feb. 3) for the research fair, where an impressive array of projects will illustrate the scope of our college’s impressive growth in discovery.

Then on Wednesday (Feb. 8) at 12 p.m. we’ll have a short ceremony in the atrium to honor Dr. Fogarty, who served as our dean for 14 years, and to celebrate the passing of the torch. I am thankful for his leadership and friendship and for the opportunities I was afforded that helped to prepare me for this moment in time. Please join me in showing our gratitude for his service.

Next Thursday, February 9, we will join the PA Class of 2024 for their mini-Match celebration as they learn where they will spend the clinical year of their program.

Soon we will be gathering for the March 17 Match Day Ceremony and the spring clerkship directors’ meetings, and the M.D. student awards ceremony and commencement (May 19-20) will be here before you know it.

In the coming days, you will receive an email with a link to nominate students for awards, plus a separate email asking for nominations for the next class of inductees in the FSU Medical Alumni Hall of Fame. Help us recognize outstanding students and alumni by nominating someone you know is deserving of these honors.

I look forward to the great things we will accomplish together as the College of Medicine weaves the growth in front of us with the history of our wonderful mission, one that we remain steadfastly committed to.

Alma B. Littles, M.D.

Interim Dean