As I write this, the Boonshoft School of Medicine team is completing the finishing touches for the 2021 commencement ceremony. As we enter the 13th month of the global pandemic, we find that we, once again, must reinvent our long-held traditions to plan for safety. The combination of a large venue–the Wright State University Nutter Center—and a much smaller number of masked participants, including guests and school representatives, will provide an unusual, yet, we hope, meaningful occasion for us to celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2021. We will provide the most pomp we can under the circumstances. We will also have a live stream during the ceremony for the broader community to celebrate with us remotely. I am very grateful to the Office of Student Affairs team, and especially McKenna Koewler, our new student services program manager, who is ably heading up arrangements.
The Class of 2021 has been with us during a particularly defining era for our region, the nation, and the world. Having experienced tornadoes and a horrific mass shooting locally, and now the pandemic, with both its local impact and its global reach, the experience of being a medical student has been more difficult than usual for our graduates. The nationwide pain of racial injustice and tense political divides have also made it a trying time. The resilience and dedication of our students are remarkable. Our hearts will swell with pride as they walk across the stage to be hooded and receive their diplomas. As we bump elbows with them and welcome them into the profession of medicine, they will begin their promise to serve humanity at a moment in history where their ability to make an impact is unparalleled.
It has been a real pleasure to begin hosting one-on-one meetings at the dean’s office with other people who have been vaccinated, and it’s been fun getting out on the road for some “field trips,” as I call them. I’ve visited the Lake Campus and some of our partner hospitals in our rural counties nearby. I’ve also been out to visit many of the sites where our students experience their clinical rotations. I’m getting to know the community better and settling in (almost six months here!). I look forward soon to opening a branch dean’s office at White Hall where I can spend at least one day a week and get to know my co-workers and our students better.
We are also looking forward to beginning a new school year at the Boonshoft School of Medicine soon. The entering class of new first-year students (the Class of 2025) will arrive on campus in late July. Since we anticipate that much of our community will be vaccinated, we are looking forward to a much more normal—though still masked—start to the year. At the next Dean’s Hour Town Hall, on Tuesday, May 13, from noon–1 p.m., we will be discussing what the new academic year will look like, including how we can safely create a more in-person dimension to the Boonshoft School of Medicine community. I hope to see you there. Until then, stay safe!
Valerie Weber, M.D., M.S.