Progress Notes | January 2021

Welcome back from what I hope was a joyous and rejuvenating winter break! In last year’s January newsletter, I noted two key initiatives in development that I looked forward to seeing mature over the course of the year. And we succeeded! Implementation of both our health systems sciences curriculum (HSSIP domain) and our class size increase to 49 occurred in July. That the unforeseen pandemic and emergency actions taken last spring did not delay these initiatives is a tribute to our amazing team at VTCSOM!

In 2021 we will continue to mature both these initiatives, while also implementing the recommendations of our InclusiveVTCSOM task force due February 1 and our strategic planning recommendations to be announced by June 1. High on the list of strategic priorities will be action steps to continue promoting inclusion, diversity, and equity in our community and among our students, faculty, and staff.

We will also pursue new collaborations with the other colleges and institutes of Virginia Tech and with our health system partner, Carilion Clinic, in areas of strategic alignment. The scope of these academic collaborations will be defined by a series of key discussions that will unfold in the coming months, and will be guided by the VTCSOM strategic plan currently in development. My goal is for specific programs, plans, and timelines to be announced by July 2021.

Updates and requests for your feedback will occur through a series of zoom town hall meetings that will hopefully transition to in-person gatherings as the pandemic abates.

I look forward to working with you as we begin another momentous year for VTCSOM!

Lee A. Learman

head shots. details below
Madeline D’Aquila, Alyssa Dewyer, Chukwuemeka Uwakaneme, Sarah Yosief, and Kenneth Young.
Karen Burns, Renee LeClair, and Angelica Witcher


  • Special thanks go out to Karen Burns for her help distributing the holiday gift boxes. Rebecca Pearson says, “I couldn’t have done it without her.”
  • For the second time, Renee LeClair, chair of the Department of Basic Science Education, has received an Excellence in Teaching Award by Virginia Tech’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. The Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes effective, engaged, and dynamic educators at Virginia Tech during the academic year.
  • Angelica Witcher, director of student affairs and instructor of interprofessionalism, presented at the 8th Annual Black Doctoral Network Conference: Leveraging the Power of Black Excellence. Her presentation was titled, Investigating Academic and Psychosocial Outcomes of First-Generation African American Postsecondary Students who Completed Early College Access Programming. Also, she was co-author, along with colleagues from Virginia Tech, of a book chapter titled, Working Mothers Making It Work While Homeschooling and Educating Others Through a Pandemic.
David Musick, Richard Vari, Suzanne Kraemer, David Trinkle, Patty Vari, Judy Smith, and Lee Learman


David Musick, Richard Vari, Suzanne Kraemer, David Trinkle, Patty Vari, Judy Smith, and Lee Learman recently had an article, Building Health Systems Science Education from the Core Domain of Interprofessional Education at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine published in Medical Science Educator.


InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force

The InclusiveVTCSOM task force has been busy since the last update:

  • First-year students have been incorporated into task force projects and are significantly contributing to the work.
  • Working group facilitators will submit reports to Dani Backus and Karen Sanders, who will review the reports and forward to steering committee members.
  • The Community Engagement, Learning and Working Environment, and Student Support working groups submitted their reports in December. The remaining working group reports will be submitted as follows:
    • Phase I Curriculum – January 8
    • Faculty and Staff Development, Recruitment, and Retention – January 8
    • Phase II Curriculum – January 8
    • Admissions – January 15
  • Working group reports will be forwarded to the strategic planning committee as they are approved.
  • Kemi Bankole, VTCSOM's new Chief Diversity Officer, began her role January 4th. Karen Sanders will continue to work as a task force liaison and will assist the diversity team during the transition.

Diversity and Inclusion

  • Registration is open for Virginia Tech’s Advancing Diversity Virtual Gathering on Jan. 12, 2021.
  • Online diversity pathways and inclusive pedagogy spring courses.
    There are new courses on the TLOS professional development network for diversity and inclusion. In addition, new SafeZone courses are available for the spring. 
  • The Breakthrough Inclusive Action Tool Kit is available for anyone ready to become an agent of change in the academy! Although it is written for students and faculty in STEM fields, the content is adaptable to any academic unit. This excellent resource was produced in collaboration with Science Friday and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Tangled Bank Studios. 

Strategic Planning Update

The Strategic Planning Committee is meeting regularly and making good progress. Recent discussions have focused on 1) preliminary results from our survey, which was completed by 499 people (26% overall response rate); 2) approaches taken to strategic planning by benchmark medical schools; and 3) planning for upcoming meetings with constituent groups.

This month will be very busy as the committee plans to conduct individual engagement sessions with the various groups who were surveyed, sharing data with them and asking for additional input and recommendations for the future direction of our school. The committee is also working collaboratively with the InclusiveVTCSOM steering committee, as that group prepares its final report. It is anticipated that recommendations from that group will serve to inform portions of the final strategic plan.

If you have ideas or further input on the strategic planning process, we want to hear from you! Please contact either Rebecca Pauly or David Musick.

CVC Update

The Virginia Tech Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign raised over $403,000! This is the first time that the university has broken the $400,000 mark.

Although we won’t know our VTCSOM final total and percentages until sometime in January, co-chairs Pam Adams and Courtney Powell have determined that VTCSOM raised more than $8,300! That’s at least 162% of our goal! Also, at press time, the dollar amount to benefit charities within the Roanoke Valley was over $50,000.

Thank you Pam and Courtney for your hard work on making this year’s campaign a success, and most of all, thanks to all of you for your support!

Humanism Note

Brother David Steindl-Rast is an American Bendictine monk born and raised in Vienna, Austria. Now 94 years old, he has devoted much of his adult life to building dialog among religious traditions. In 2000, he co-founded A Network for Grateful Living, an organization dedicated to gratefulness as a transformative influence for individuals and society. To experience the sense of peace and connection associated with gratefulness, please set aside five minutes to view “A Grateful Day.” Produced 13 years ago and narrated by Brother Steindl-Rast, its messages are beautiful, breathtaking, and timeless.

Take Note

  • Virginia Tech requires that all public-facing videos and live events produced by the university include closed captioning.
  • If your New Year's Resolutions include improving your knowledge and skills, please know that LinkedIn Learning, formerly known as, is available to everyone at Virginia Tech, including faculty, staff, and students. Check it out. You might be surprised what you can learn in 2021!
  • A reminder that you can find us on various forms of social media, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.
  • Past issues of Progress Notes are available on the website.

Upcoming Events

The Last Note

Special thanks to everyone who offered kind words, reflections, and heartfelt greetings in VTCSOM’s annual holiday video. More than seven hours of raw footage resulted in this piece that captured the holiday spirit marvelously. Thanks to Ryan Anderson for another video masterpiece. 

Add Your Own Note

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