Progress Notes | February 2022

This year I’ll be focusing each monthly message on a specific core value or goal in our 2021-25 strategic plan. Last month, I recognized our strides in the area of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which continue during Black History Month events and beyond. This month I’d like to turn our attention to our goal of expanding philanthropy and scholarships.

The generosity of engaged community members, faculty and friends of VTCSOM has enabled the creation of more than a dozen endowed scholarships, each with sufficient funds to generate student scholarship support in perpetuity. Some of the endowed scholarships are awarded for four years and others for a year at a time. Some are commemorative scholarships that form a continuing connection between our school and a donor's beloved family member.

No matter their size or origin these endowed scholarships are still the most powerful and permanent way to help generations of tomorrow’s doctors be able to realize their potential. For most students, financial help is a necessity to attend medical school. At VTCSOM and nationally, more than three-quarters of students will incur substantial debt during their medical education in addition to the debts they carry forward from college and graduate school.

We are extremely fortunate for the generous donors who have funded scholarships and given to the school in other meaningful ways. As a new school with alumni from just eight graduating classes, building our student scholarship endowment is critically important for successful recruitment. Our strategic plan recognizes the importance of increasing this support significantly by 2025 so that we may continue to develop highly skilled, knowledgeable and compassionate future doctors.

As we have seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our communities depend on front-line physicians capable of adapting quickly and showing profound resiliency. I am confident in saying, with personal knowledge of the outstanding students at VTCSOM and the power of our unique curriculum, that our graduates will be ready on day one to meet these challenges.

Philanthropy comes in all shapes and sizes, and there is no gift too small. This month, on February 23, we will be following Virginia Tech’s lead and sending communications celebrating VTCSOM’s Giving Day. This is a special 24-hour opportunity for our students, employees, alumni, family, and friends to come together virtually and show their support for their favorite departments or programs at the medical school.

On Giving Day, we will strive to exceed our peers with a high participation rate. The gift commitments we receive will support scholarships and other programs that allow us to continue preparing our graduates to become the physician thought leaders who are so essential in today’s ever-changing medical landscape.

If you have questions about ways to give to VTCSOM, please contact Alicia Besenyei, assistant dean for advancement.

Lee A. Learman


  • Nancy Howell Agee, CEO and president of Carilion Clinic and VTCSOM faculty member, was appointed to Governor Youngkin's Medical Advisory Team.
  • Christopher Allen has been named Preceptor of the Year by the Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants.
  • Congratulations to David Barton, class of 2019, and his wife Kaylyn on the recent birth of their son, whom Barton was able to deliver himself!
  • Roger Glick, was recently presented with the American College of Healthcare Executives Service Award.
  • Vianne Greek, web manager, is now a MBTI® Certified practitioner after completing the Myers Briggs Type Indicator certification program last month.
  • Congrats to Michael Spinosa, third-year student, who along with the Carilion Clinic Aortic Center Research Team, presented a poster titled “Comparison of physician modified endovascular grafts with a ZFEN platform to Non-ZFEN physician modified endovascular draft and commercially manufactured devices for repair of complex aortic aneurysms” at the annual meeting of the Southern Association for Vascular Surgery.
  • Thank you to these 31 faculty for providing a great experience for our students and whose exceptional teacher recognitions were shared with the Learning Environment Advocacy Committee last month.


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Welcome to New Staff

A warm welcome to Avery Mahaney, faculty affairs manager, and Alex Rico, systems support specialist, who joined the VTCSOM family in January.


Welcome to New Faculty

Welcome to all the new faculty who joined us in January:

  • Basic Science Education: Michael Pratt
  • Internal Medicine: Michael Binder and Katherine Coffey-Vega
  • Pediatrics: Quianna Charles, Anthony Staples, and Anne Washofsky
  • Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine: Ahmad Khan and Sasha Rai
  • Surgery: Patrick Collins, Matthew Joy, and Joseph Rowe

Diversity and Inclusion Notes

  • The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is pleased to host our second M.E.D.S. Experience (Medical Exposure for Diverse Students) from March 4 to 6. The program targets first-, second- and third-year Virginia Tech students who are members of groups underrepresented in medicine and are planning careers in medicine and research. If you know someone who might benefit from this unique experience, encourage them to apply.
  • Holidays and observances in the month of February:
    • February is Black History Month
    • 1: Lunar New Year
    • 1: National Freedom Day, celebrating the signing of the Thirteenth Amendment
    • 1–2: Imbolc, a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring
    • 2: Candlemas
    • 2: Groundhog Day
    • 3: St. Blaise Day (The Blessing of the Throats), the feast day of St. Blaise of Sebaste 
    • 3: Setsubun-Sai (Beginning of Spring), celebrated as part of the Spring Festival in Japan
    • 3: Four Chaplains Day commemorates the fifty-fifth anniversary of the sinking of the US Army transport Dorchester and the heroism of the four chaplains aboard 
    • 5: Vasant Panchami
    • 14: St. Valentine’s Day
    • 15: Lantern Festival
    • 15: Parinirvana Day (or Nirvana Day)
    • 16: Maghi-Purnima, a Hindu festival especially for worshippers of Lord Vishnu
    • 16: Magha Puja Day (Buddhism)
    • 21: Presidents Day
    • February 25–March 1: Intercalary Days or Ayyám-i-Há (Bahá’í)
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Community Corner

The offices of Community and Culture and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are sponsoring what is sure to be a gripping and thought-proving event on February 17 at 5:30 p.m.An Unfinished Conversation on a Contested Space” will examine the long and painful history of the two oldest standing structures on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus (Solitude and the Fraction House) from previously unrepresented perspectives, address generational trauma, and reveal exciting new plans to reimagine the structures’ future. Register for this virtual panel discussion.

Catherine Lavallee

Spotlight on Giving

Catherine Lavallee, class of 2024, is one of the first two recipients of The Dr. and Mrs. Robert R. and Rebecca Bowen Memorial Scholarship, a legacy gift from the family of Robert Bowen, a Virginia Tech alumnus and orthopedic surgeon, and his wife. “Learning about the scholarship was a big surprise,” she said. “I was humbled to be selected, and it made me feel the full weight of support from VTC. I am so grateful that my perspective is respected and valued.” Read more about her story.

Humanism Notes

The classic poem “The Road Not Taken” was written in 1915 by the American poet Robert Frost (1874-1963). When facing a decision on which path to take, the poem encourages us to ponder whether there is a single best choice. Perhaps journeying down either path would be so satisfying we would regret not taking the other. As Frost noted later in his life when society was ravaged with division and fear, “But life – it goes on. It always has. It always will. Don’t forget that.” Frost’s original reading is powerful, but his words have renewed energy in this recitation over 100 years after it was written.

Take Note

Take Note

  • The Digital Measures to Elements transition has encountered a few issues which have delayed our ability to start using the new system. You will receive notification from the Faculty Affairs team when the system goes live. Thank you everyone for your patience.
  • As part of the Virginia Harm Reduction Coalition, VTCSOM students are having a Winter Clothing Drive. Donate your gently used warm weather gear to help our neighbors who need housing, stay warm this winter. Connect with LB Canary to arrange for pickup.
  • Virginia Tech’s Office of Talent Development empowers and supports a diverse and inclusive workforce by compiling a wide variety of free online programs. New courses include Dealing with Difficult People, Effective Time Management, and Managing Up. See the complete list of new courses.
  • The Virginia Tech’s Accessible Technologies application process for employees for the CPACC course closes February 11. The CPACC (certified professional in accessibility core concepts) course has an in-depth focus on instructional design concepts and is extremely valuable.
  • Accessible Technologies is also hosting a number of accessibility-related courses this spring, including PDFs, PowerPoint and Google Slides, using Ally in Canvas, and universal design for learning.
  • Past issues of Progress Notes are available on the website.

Upcoming Events

Spread the word about giving day

The Last Note

Giving Day is just around the corner! At VTCSOM, our service mission is built upon the foundation of giving. Beginning at noon on February 23, and lasting for 24 hours, you’ll hear about how we can all make a difference in the future of our medical school. Want to make a difference? Save the date! Spread the word! You can even be a Giving Day Ambassador! Everything you need to know.

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