I have had the distinct pleasure of serving as dean of this great school for a month now. All of my experiences in that short time — minus the stink bugs, more on that at the end — absolutely affirms why I wanted to assume this position and come to UVA. The students, faculty, and staff here are tremendously talented, passionately devoted to this institution, and extremely welcoming. What an incredible example you have already set for me. I so look forward to continuing to get to know and learn from all of you.
As much as the last month has been about meeting and learning from as many people as possible — and there’s more ahead, especially with our students, with whom I’m scheduled to meet soon — there’s been a lot of work too. I’m excited to share updates about several ongoing searches for leadership positions and the upcoming launch of a long-awaited effort to review team member compensation. The search for a Chief Operating Officer is in its final stages, and I hope to name someone in the next couple of weeks. There are also three Chair searches underway for Obstetrics and Gynecology; Surgery; and Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology. Finally, we are starting to explore the process for a gender pay equity analysis in the School of Medicine. I know this has been a standing request and point of emphasis for many. I hear you. Know that I’m prioritizing the completion of this analysis and remediation of any potential inequities we find.
The last month has also brought some impressive national attention to the School of Medicine. All of us should be immensely proud that one of our own, Dr. Jochen Zimmer, Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biomedical Physics, was named an Investigator by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute — considered among the highest honors a biomedical scientist can achieve. Additionally, we should share the spotlight given promising work to develop a universal coronavirus vaccine by Dr. Steven Zeichner, Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology. I know these are just two more prominent examples of the life-changing work happening here every day. And for that, I’m grateful we all have the privilege to be a part of these inspiring efforts.
As I mentioned at the top, if there’s one sour note in my first month in Charlottesville, it’s the stinkbugs. We did not have them in Chapel Hill — and I have never encountered them before — but now my husband Marco and I are battling an infestation surrounding our home. A kindhearted new colleague advised us to purchase something called a “BugZooka” to mitigate the problem. Here’s hoping it does the trick! More on that shortly.
Seriously, all stinkbug jokes aside, Marco and I are so fortunate to be in Charlottesville and at UVA. We are grateful for your kindness and support. Until next time, I look forward to continuing learning from and being a champion for you!
Melina Kibbe, MD
Dean, UVA School of Medicine
James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science
Chief Health Affairs Officer, UVA Health