When NEOMED’s 2018 graduates assemble for Commencement May 19, they can look forward to hearing from a keynote speaker who understands the path that has brought them there.
As a general internist and sociologist who has spent more than 25 years in academic medicine, Steven Wartman, M.D., Ph.D., will step up to the podium equipped with experience in medical education, health care delivery and health policy.
Since July 2005, Dr. Wartman has been President of the Association of Academic Health Centers (AAHC), a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. In this role, he connects about 100 academic health centers in the country that educate health professionals, conduct biomedical and clinical research, and offer patient care. NEOMED is a member of the AAHC. It’s through our own President Gershen, who became a colleague of Dr. Wartman while serving on the AAHC board, that Dr. Wartman came to be invited to deliver the keynote address.
A Speaker for the Students
“I wanted to choose someone who the students could relate to,” Dr. Gershen explained in a recent conversation. People have different ideas of what makes a great commencement speaker, Dr. Gershen said. Some want the warmth exuded by a person who focuses solely on the student experience in their keynote speech. Others prefer a person of impressive achievement who can inspire them—but that person may choose a topic that’s too esoteric.
The broad perspective of Dr. Wartman, who formerly served as executive vice president for academic and health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, seemed just right to Dr. Gershen.
The AAHC supports biomedical research; writes white papers on leadership and other topics; and holds annual meetings that bring together thought leaders from Congress, think tanks, academic health centers and advocacy groups. As the editor of The Transformation of Academic Health Centers, Dr. Wartman got to know NEOMED through its authorship of a case study in a chapter on diversity.
Dr. Gershen particularly appreciates Dr. Wartman’s role at the AAHC as an advocate who has pressed Congress to support funding from Medicare to training residents.
Dr. Wartman has not only expanded and diversified the AAHC organization geographically, notes Dr. Gershen: He has also made it more inclusive by opening its membership beyond the people who head universities to also include others on university staffs, who now can build their own networks of, say, other finance chairs, government relations staff or marketing professionals. In 2008, Dr. Wartman founded AAHC International a new global organization with its own international meeting.
All these accomplishments—and that important quality of being a relatable speaker—made Dr. Gershen think of inviting Dr. Wartman to speak at Commencement. The last time Dr. Wartman visited NEOMED was before the NEW Center was completed, so Dr. Gershen looks forward to showing his colleague all the campus updates.