Issue 41 - April 26, 2016
Making the Rounds with Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson
Friends and Colleagues,    

O ne of my most rewarding achievements over the past year has been recruiting a stellar team to build a first-rate medical school at UNLV.  
When I started in May 2014, my team consisted of a part-time assistant and me. For the first six months, I met with stakeholders daily to learn what was needed to build an innovative medical school that would meet the long-term needs of Las Vegas and Nevada. What followed was a vision for the school based on conversations with community leaders, the Nevada System of Higher Education and our Board of Regents, state legislators, local physicians and hospital administrators, University of Nevada School of Medicine faculty, the Clark County Medical Society, UNLV faculty, and many, many more. One of the highlights was a meeting with Richard Morgan, founding dean of the William S. Boyd School of Law, who used "excellence" as the cornerstone for making decisions and recruiting faculty.
Later in 2014, The Lincy Institute at UNLV hosted a forum for the Southern Nevada community, " Valuing a UNLV Medical School." The forum detailed the significant economic and health care benefits of allopathic (MD) medical schools in large metro areas and the impact of increased GME (residencies) positions in the state. Video of several of the presentations.
Community Advisory Board members
Building the Medical School Team
Right after this event, Maureen Schafer agreed to serve as my chief of staff. Maureen worked with Julie Murray, CEO and principal of Moonridge Group Philanthropy Catalysts, to assemble the medical school's 45-member Community Advisory Board.  Mersina Swearinger also joined the team as my executive assistant in January.
Next, I recruited the school's top leadership, which I divided into four teams based on the medical school's core missions: education, clinical practice activity, research, and community service.
The education team was the first to form, and they immediately got to work on the herculean task of developing every aspect of the medical school's curriculum by December 2015 to meet our accreditation timeline. The education team, led by Ellen Cosgrove, MD, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs and Education, includes:
  • Samuel Parrish MD, Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Admissions;
  • Laura Culley, MD, Associate Dean for Health Policy and Community Affairs. Dr. Culley also oversees our community service activities;
  • Stephen Dahlem, MD, Director of Case-Based Learning; and
  • Neil Haycocks, MD, Director of Biomedical Science Integrations  
UNLV provided excellent support for the medical school's philanthropy, communications, and financial effort, but we needed to create our own infrastructure to keep up with the rapid rate at which we were growing. We recruited Pam Udall, director of communications in April.  
By the time Gov. Brian Sandoval and Nevada Legislature approved our start-up funding and signed it into law in July 2015, we had nine employees, including myself.
Team Growth and Continued Momentum
Since the end of the 2015 Nevada Legislative Session, we have rounded out our administrative team with these additional hires:
  • Jeffrie Jones, Director of Development
  • Feride McAlpine, Associate Dean for Administration and Human Resources
  • Kim Meyer, Senior Associate Dean for Finance and Business
  • Joanne Muellenbach, Founding Health Sciences Librarian
  • Susan O'Brien, Assistant General Counsel
Two of our most pivotal leaders for advancing our clinical and research missions joined the team in February. Tracey Green, MD, as Vice Dean for Clinical Affairs, and Parvesh Kumar, MD, as Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Research.
L to R: Maureen Schafer, Drs. Green, Atkinson, and Kumar at our first research committee meeting 

Today, our faculty and staff has grown to 29 members. I am very proud of this incredible team. We all are working hard to get our individual and collective goals accomplished.  See the organizational charts for the UNLV School of Medicine Dean's office and Academic Affairs
My personal leadership style is to hire outstanding leaders who have the desire and ability to build their own programs. I find that if we agree at the beginning about what the program should be and provide the necessary resources, great leaders can build excellent programs.
When people ask if I have trouble recruiting to Las Vegas, I say "not at all." I'm recruiting people who share the vision to improve access to care for Southern Nevadans. My leadership team is excited about creating brand new, innovative programs for a new medical school. This kind of opportunity is rare in academic medicine. Our entire team shares the excitement and passion for what we are collectively building.  
Best wishes,
Community Advisory Board Spotlight

Meet Ramu Komanduri, MD, Chief of Staff at VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System (VASNHS). He has been in his current role for more than 13 years. During his tenure the VASNHS has expanded from a system of clinics to a new state-of-the-art medical center along with several new clinics. "It is an honor to serve our Veterans. I believe the best way to honor our Veterans is to build a top notch Medical School at UNLV. I look forward to many years of collaboration with UNLV to build the medical school and expand residency programs," says Dr. Komanduri. 

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