October 2008

Real and important

In these worrisome economic times, I think it is important to reflect on the underlying strengths of our institution, and why we are fortunate enough to have them. 

First, we have in our remarkable faculty and staff extraordinary intellectual capital—the kinds of enduring assets that no amount of market fluctuation can devalue. 

Second, we have—to a degree we have not experienced in a long time—the wonderfully generous support of benefactors who have succeeded so impressively in other walks of life, and who have applied their success to the greater good.

Third, and perhaps most importantly of all, we have work that is real and important

When times are easy, a mission may seem simply a nice-sounding, “feel-good” thing to have. But when the seas get rough, the mission becomes the anchor.  

When you are about saving lives and alleviating human suffering, economic turmoil and its consequences on society are of course deeply disturbing. But they do not touch the core of what you are about.  

At our Medical Center—whether at the bedside, in the classroom, or in the laboratory—we confront every day the ultimate fragility of being human. Whatever the headlines say, we still have the privilege of making a difference in others’ lives.   

We are, of course, not in a bubble.  We will have to be realistic about our priorities and be willing to adapt to circumstance. But I think it is interesting to reflect that as an economic entity, our institution can weather hardship with greater confidence than organizations in most other sectors, precisely because the work we do is essential to the well-being of other people. Our mission matters.