Investiture of Robert I. Grossman, MD

Monday, October 29, 2007

Transcript of Dean Grossman's Speech:
"Chairman Lipton, Chairman Langone, President Sexton, Senior Vice President Berne, faculty, staff, students and friends - Thank you very much for your support, faith and hopes.

"Over the past four months I have done a great deal of listening to all of you about your concerns and aspirations. I have also read about the illustrious history of our medical center. One of the most striking aspects of my research is how few times the word 'dean' is mentioned.

"Clearly the message is that the Dean is just an enabler for all the talented and extraordinary members of our medical center.

"And speaking of extraordinary - My first official activity was to welcome the new medical student Class of 2011 into our profession. These spectacular 160 students were chosen from almost 8,000 applicants - 80 of these 160 future doctors are men. This celebration is termed the 'white coat ceremony' - Our auditorium was filled to capacity - standing room only - with the new students, proud parents, friends, and family. It was an emotional event.

"The featured speaker was Dan Roses, one of our outstanding faculty who gave an illuminating talk on the history of Bellevue and NYU Medical School. My own reaction was, in many ways, similar to that of the audience.

"Awe - at the amazing individuals who were faculty or students at our institution.

"Responsibility - for the students - being given the stewardship of their future patients' lives - and for me being entrusted with the training of future physicians and the stewardship of the traditions, culture, and growth of this magnificent medical center.

"I am privileged to be part of this 166-year legacy of excellence.

"As you saw in the video, we were founded by some of the greatest physicians in the mid-19th century. John Revere, the youngest son of Paul Revere would become the first Professor of Medicine and Valentine Mott, the greatest surgeon in the US would lead the Department of Surgery.

"S.D. Gross, Mott's pupil and later a Professor of Surgery, wrote that Mott's name was as indissolubly linked with the history of surgery as Wellington's was with the battle of Waterloo.

"Gross himself, by the way, was the subject of what the New York Times has called 'hands down, the finest 19th-century American painting.' It's a portrait called 'The Gross Clinic,' by Thomas Eakins, and it's still making history: a while back, it stirred a major national controversy when it was sold by The Thomas Jefferson University - for $68 million!

"Think about that ---- NYU surgical training captured in the greatest American painting of the 19th Century - indeed that is influence!

"Now, let me sketch our future on the incredibly rich and robust canvas bestowed by those NYU giants whose legacy we gratefully acknowledge and on whose shoulders we now stand.

"The vision is to build on our history of greatness to become a world-class academic medical center, competing successfully with the Hopkins, Harvards, and Penns. We have all the ingredients to ascend to this rarefied status:

  • We sit in the heart of the greatest city in the world;
  • We are part of a remarkable university;
  • Our excellent hospitals and School of Medicine have areas of extraordinary strength;
  • There are—as we were reminded just a few weeks ago at Dean's Honors Day—giants among us, who reinvent our legacy of excellence every day;
  • And we have genuine devotion to a future of innovation and collaboration.

"So we have incredible assets to build on. But we also have a lot to do. What will it take? I see five underlying conditions for success.

"First, we must remember that decisions have to be based on what is best for the medical center as a whole. The outside competition is fierce and we cannot have our constituencies at cross-purposes. That is why we have already taken many steps to bring the hospital and SOM closer, with the aim of becoming a fully integrated academic medical center not just in name but in fact.

"We must use the strengths of each to enhance the other, and construct creative programs that take full advantage of all segments of our medical center and the wider University. A hospital without a SOM is not a world class medical center. Clearly Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic perceived this and have started medical schools. President Sexton and others have articulated and appreciate that it is extremely difficult to be a great University without a great medical school.

"Second, we must get our financial house in order if we are to achieve world-class status. We are a $2 billion enterprise with over 19,000 individuals. Our growth will be severely limited until the SOM finances are corrected. The faster we perform this task, the greater our endowment and the more we can invest in ourselves.

"This means establishing benchmarks for productivity across the entire enterprise. Our research portfolio has to grow dramatically. Strategic investment and accountability go hand-in-hand.

"Third, to enable many of our objectives requires rigorous pursuit of philanthropy. We must raise over $2 billion. I am committed to accomplishing this task. We have a magnificent and generous board and we will work tirelessly to achieve this goal.

"Fourth, we must be mindful, every day, that the most impressive attribute of this Medical Center is the people! All the individuals who work in our hospitals and school, performing their daily tasks enabling the smooth operation of our medical center, are to be respected, and their excellence and dedication should be acknowledged and celebrated.

"My team seeks to create a working environment that encourages contributions and demonstrates that we are partners in excellence. Diversity is fundamental to our mission. It is not good enough to talk the talk. We must actively recruit and retain at all levels of our organization. We need appropriate role models and mentors. Our Medical Center should respect and reflect our communities.

"And finally, for you as an individual - To be astonishingly successful requires that each and everyone take responsibility. Winston Churchill said it best: 'The price of greatness is responsibility!'

"This characteristic must permeate the entire medical center. For example, if the clinical care is great, the food is splendid and the room is immaculate, but if someone caring for the patient is not considerate, all the other components of the hospital experience are tainted. Each of you plays an essential role. We are a team and to achieve our potential necessitates that we continuously improve our performance and functionality.

"If we fulfill those five prerequisites -working toward the full integration of our medical center, fixing our finances, raising funds, creating a culture of mutual respect, and taking individual responsibility for all of our actions—then we will have a very solid foundation on which to build a glorious future. I will not rest until we have fulfilled each and every one of these specific aims.

"There remains, of course, one enormous piece to complete the picture. And that is: to become world-class we must objectively excel in research, clinical medicine, and education. And we must promote and prioritize initiatives that facilitate and enhance our ascent. So let me turn now to our goals for each facet of our mission.

"In research, we will create an environment which continues to respect great science and facilitates collaborative investigation. Our gifted faculty will be stakeholders in the process, helping design a strategy for future scientific investment and designating benchmarks that monitor these ventures.

"The goal is to grow our scientific portfolio, attract and keep the best scientists, and provide infrastructure that augurs their success. We shall invest in—and create incentives that foster—interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches to research and science. Team science is consistent with the NIH Roadmap and represents an increasing trend in successful investigations.

"Our school is part of an exceptional university and we wish to be a great partner in this incredible enterprise.

"Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting the laboratory of one of our wonderful scientists. He introduced me to a young man, an NYU undergraduate pursuing a research project in the lab. One could appreciate how special the experience was for the undergraduate, but there was also the feeling that the laboratory truly valued the student's contribution. This student was a Russian immigrant who --- had just been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. Excellence attracts excellence and that is contagious.

"This vignette also illustrates a simple but significant collaboration with the university -- together we broaden our appeal, increase our opportunities, and create synergies that realize dreams.

"Now, let me turn to clinical medicine. Our institution did not get to where it is without exceptional nursing and clinical care. We are a magnet for both and we wish to continue this tradition and build upon it.

"Our vision emphasizes strategic programs. These include musculoskeletal diseases, neuroscience, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, children's health, and broad initiatives in aging, metabolism, stem cell and regenerative medicine, and inflammation. We will search for other meaningful opportunities that leverage our assets and fit into our strategy.

"We will also continue to embrace the mission of caring for the underserved - Bellevue is a core asset. And our work there, for the past 166 years, a most noble cause. Examples of our commitment to Bellevue are the Kaplan Breast Cancer Center which provides a