Dean’s Update: July 29, 2022 | College of Human Medicine

July 29, 2022 – Aron Sousa, MD


We are getting very close to the start of our fall semester. And we have some exciting and unusual events coming up. The first event includes two white coat ceremonies on August 20 in Grand Rapids.

We’ve never done two white coat ceremonies before, so this will be new territory for us. One of the ceremonies will be the traditional matriculation ceremony for our freshmen, and the other will be a special white coat ceremony for our rising third year students, who did not get a white coat ceremony due to the pandemic. I look forward to both ceremonies. Above all, I want to give special thanks to the Student Affairs team and other college faculty and staff who will be working long hours as we pull off these two wedding-sized events in one day. Thanks a lot.

As we plan our White Coat Ceremony, I have had people ask my opinion on some enrolled students coming out of the University of Michigan White Coat Ceremony last week in response to their guest speaker. For better or worse, we’ve never had a keynote speaker for our white coat ceremonies, so we’re in a different situation than some other schools. Regarding the events of the past week, my answer might be a little different from most: I think everyone involved in the events did well. The faculty and students of the Gold Humanism Honor Society have chosen a respected faculty member to provide a non-controversial welcome to new students. The university has maintained the invitation, as it does not disinvite people based on their personal beliefs. This is how academic freedom works. The speaker gave the uncontroversial welcome appropriate for a white coat ceremony. Finally, students who deeply opposed this speaker protested peacefully and calmly by marching without significantly disrupting the event for the students and families who remained. I’m not saying it was easy for people. I guess the speaker, the students, and everyone in the room were pretty uncomfortable. Intellectual dialogues and respectful disagreements are an integral, and sometimes uncomfortable, part of academic life.

The second event coming up in August is the start of the new year for Late Clinical Experience (LCE) – our third-year program. This will be the first LCE for our new Community Assistant Deans in Lansing (Dr. Power) based in Sparrow, Midland (Dr. Buzanoski) based in MyMichigan Health, Southeast Michigan (Dr. Abdo) based in Ascension Providence, and in Detroit (Dr. Hug), at our new eighth campus based in Henry Ford. The LCE opens with new third-year students coming in for orientation starting August 22. I know they are excited and so am I.

Starting a new campus is an exciting and rare event. The teams worked very well together, and our students will have a great experience with patients and teachers at Henry Ford.

In recent years, the college and university have increased their interest and investment in innovation and the knowledge work that makes entrepreneurship possible. One of our partners in the innovation effort is the Henry Ford Innovation Institute, and they invite people to apply for their Davidson Fellowship for Digital Health Entrepreneurs. The program is open to people with three years of higher education beyond a bachelor’s degree, which means that many students, residents and faculty can apply. Take a look, but note that the application deadline is fast approaching.

I want to conclude by acknowledging a remarkable milestone in one of the college’s flagship programs. Enrollment in the Flint Registry just passed 20,000 people. The registry helps connect those exposed to Flint’s water during the crisis with support, assessment and treatment. So far, the registry team has made more than 25,000 referrals to care for people enrolled in the program. The Flint Lead Registry is a CDC-funded program that is only possible because of the bipartisan support of members of Congress and Senators. Additionally, the good work of the program is made possible by the incredible team of Registry Director, Nicole Jones, PhD, MS, and the always brilliant leader of the MSU Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative. -Hurley, Charles Stewart Mott, Professor of Public Health, Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, FAAP. This team has found wonderful partners among the leaders and residents of Flint, and together they are serving the people in the most important way possible.

Serve people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD


Dean’s Update