CMED dean, Ross: Departing associate dean 'gets to go home and live that dream'

The head of Central Michigan University’s College of Medicine said Thursday he was aware of Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord’s interest in going to Arizona.

“She’s going home,” dean Ernest Yoder said.

Yoder, speaking before the trustees meeting Thursday morning at CMU, said Alvord made him aware of her interest in taking a job as the associate dean of University of Arizona’s College of Medicine four to five months ago. CMU announced Alvord's resignation Wednesday after she accepted the position of associate dean for student affairs at the Tucson, Ariz.-based school.

University President George Ross said he interviewed Alvord for the open dean position of the fledgling CMED back in 2010. They talked medicines and how she wanted to help Native tribes around Michigan, including the local Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.

A member of the Navajo Indian tribe herself, Alvord was inspired to become a physician at eight years old when she met the only Native American doctor on the reservation, Ross said.

“She gets to go home and live that dream,” Ross said. “We’re very happy for her.”

Alvord ends her duties at CMU on Aug. 31. Until then, she is working with Dr. Joel Lanphear, who will replace Alvord in an interim role. Ross says Yoder is actively seeking new applicants and hopes to have a replacement filled in the fall.

Despite losing its second associate dean in two years, Ross remains confident about the project. Yoder said they have addressed the five areas of concern named in the Liaison Committee on Medical Education’s preliminary accreditation report. About 500 applications have already come in, many from Michigan, and they will begin the interview process next month and begin accepting students in mid- to late-October.

Kathy Wilbur, vice president of development and external relations, said Thursday the university has raised 56 percent of its $25 million goal for CMED. Naming opportunities within the facility, ranging from $25,000 to $1 million-plus, are also available.

Yoder also received good news at the meeting when trustees approved $800,000 in additional funding, to come from university reserves, for the design development phase of the medical school’s Saginaw campus, also known as CMED East. To date, CMU has invested $1.75 million into CMED East.

Once the design phase begins, officials will have a better idea as to what the facility will cost, Yoder said.

“We’re concentrating on the three F’s: funding, facilities and faculty,” Yoder said. “Those are the three key areas the LCME told us we have to hit, so that’s where the bulk of our work has been.”

Although there has been widespread criticism of CMED on campus, Yoder and Ross remain optimistic.

Even if it means having a sense of humor.

“What keeps you up at night?” trustee William Kanine asked Yoder with a chuckle.

In between laughs among those in attendance, Ross quipped: “Ernie, don’t call on me.”

“The president does not keep me up at night,” Yoder replied. “This is a bigger task than anyone of us could have anticipated. At least from my perspective, there is no way that anybody could have dreamed to prepare themselves for what it takes to start a medical school, but I’m super confident.

“We’re working hard to raise funds ... making good progress with faculty, and facilities are coming into shape.”

-Managing Editor Mike Nichols contributed to this report.


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