The Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) hosted its biennial academic convocation Friday (Jan. 20) to celebrate its achievements and future endeavors. An evening gala raised private donations and profits to establish the Nancy W. Dickey, M.D., Endowed Scholarship in recognition of her 10-year anniversary as institution president.
Convocation at Rudder Auditorium on the Texas A&M University campus honored the renewed vision and reaffirmed commitment to providing quality programs and services throughout the state. As in 2010, it was satellite broadcast to campuses in Dallas, Temple, Kingsville, Round Rock, McAllen, Houston and Corpus Christi.
“From its beginning, the health science center has followed a thoughtful and rational growth process,” said Nancy W. Dickey, M.D., president of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and vice chancellor for health affairs for The Texas A&M University System.
“We have evaluated the needs of the state, the nation and, in some instances, the world. We have considered potential solutions and how TAMHSC could be part of the solution. We have built upon our land grant heritage, helping to meet the needs of the state and facilitating Texans’ access to education and training that allows them to remain in their jobs even as they build their competencies.”
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the accrediting authority for the TAMHSC, is evaluating the institution for compliance with core requirements, comprehensive standards and federal requirements. The outcome of this evaluation will help determine if the TAMHSC will receive continuing accreditation.
A new component of the accreditation process is the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). The plan involves broad-based participation from the Texas A&M Health Science Center community in selecting and focusing on a topic that enhances student learning throughout the institution.
The chosen QEP topic is CARE – Critically Appraise Relevant Evidence – and it will establish a foundation of critical-thinking skills in students while enriching the teaching and application of evidence-based decision-making. In doing so, CARE will enhance the processes through which the institution teaches and practices its vision that all people “deserve the benefits of compassionate care, superior science and exceptional health education.”
To further promote the QEP, TAMHSC students were invited to participate in a contest to produce a two-minute video representing CARE. The winning team was Joe Cerrato, Barbara Reed and Rebecca Armanath in the College of Nursing. Their video aired during convocation and will be posted on the institutional YouTube page (www.youtube.com/user/tamhscmedia) and SACS website (www.tamhsc.edu/about/accreditation/sacs/). The college was awarded a $500 scholarship and plaque, and each team member received a $25 gift card for iPhone/iPad applications.
In her keynote address, “I CARE. You Should Too,” Dr. Dickey said today’s health care professionals must learn to efficiently and effectively evaluate, synthesize and apply rapidly changing data. This requires the TAMHSC continually change curricula and evaluate measurement tools such as exams. And from matriculation to graduation, students must demonstrate improvement in their decision-making.
“TAMHSC has embraced the belief, the philosophy, that health care providers who are taught to critically appraise relevant evidence will be better prepared to provide the best treatment, evaluation and solution options for their communities, patients and clients,” Dr. Dickey said. “It is no longer enough for us to say we teach students to learn and learn continuously. We must teach students how to use the moving database to be competent diagnosticians and cutting-edge problem-solvers in a strong patient-client centered way.”
Dr. Dickey closed by announcing plans for a new research building and new clinical building on the Bryan campus. Details are still being finalized for the facilities, which will complement the Health Professions Education Building, Medical Research and Education Building, and Clinical Building I.
During the convocation, Dr. Dickey awarded six Presidential Awards for Excellence to individuals or groups who personified servant leadership in the areas of community outreach, health care services and delivery, research, institutional advancement, education and mentorship, and administrative support.
Also acknowledged were multiple faculty and research awards – some of which were presented at an earlier faculty luncheon – along with Regents Professors and distinguished and emeritus professors.
Additional convocation remarks were provided by A&M System Chancellor John Sharp, M.P.A.; A&M System Board of Regents Chairman Richard A. Box, D.D.S.; Jim Burdine, Dr. P.H., speaker of the Faculty Senate; and School of Graduate Studies student Brenna McGruder, president of the Student Government Association.
Following the event, an evening celebration gala at Miramont Country Club featured gourmet dining, fine wine and dancing in honor of Dr. Dickey’s 10 years as TAMHSC president, having assumed office Jan. 1, 2002. It included a video tribute to Dr. Dickey that highlighted her tenure and personal life, with comments from Sharp, Dr. Box and State Sen. Steve Ogden, R-District 5.
In academia, “convocation” is a ceremonial assembly of the members of a college or university. Traditionally, it celebrates a special event, such as the beginning of the academic year or the anniversary of an institution.