Caring for one another: A message from Dean Sharon Anderson

Celebrating our second-annual Gratitude Tree project and remembering Deans John Kendall and Mark Richardson

Dec. 19, 2019 – We do a lot of talking about wellness these days.  Creating a work climate where everyone can thrive requires both our attention, and our effort. We know that institutional initiatives and systems-level change are key parts of the equation. Yet there are also powerful contributions each of us can make.

It starts with kindness; and what better time than during this holiday season.

I want to thank the many departments, labs and clinics that joined us for the second-annual Gratitude Tree project. Dozens created beautiful displays that highlighted personal notes of appreciation for colleagues.

The Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine’s poinsettia messages

Dermatology created a Snowflake Gratitude Wall in the CHH patient lobby; APOM decorated a hallway with cheerful poinsettia messages; Psychiatry created a gorgeous montage, and, in the Dean’s Office, Mariah Dula, a new member of our communications team, hauled a beautiful cherry branch on her bike all the way up Marquam Hill to become our tree from which we hung inscribed paper ornaments.

In the Department of Surgery, a message read: “Grateful to work with faculty and residents who take care of each other and support each other. Care for the caretakers.”

The Balance Disorders Lab in Richard Jones Hall recognized the environmental services team: “We all thank you for maintaining the spaces we work in day to day at a high level.”

Dermatology’s Snowflake Gratitude Wall

And, with a lot of new moms in the Dean’s Office, one wrote: “Thanks for supporting mothers and families — and for the coffee!”

Another shared, “I appreciate all who recognize and use my preferred gender pronoun. Thank you for caring.”

The project culminated on Monday with cookies, cocoa and caroling by our simply awesome OHSU colleagues in Mac Café. There is truly nothing better than festive music that touches our souls and makes us smile this time of year.


Honoring the legacies of Deans John Kendall and Mark Richardson

The holidays are also a time for reflection and for remembering those no longer with us.

It is with great sadness and reverence that I share with you that John W. Kendall, Jr., M.D., F ’62, dean

Dr. John Kendall
Dr. John Kendall

emeritus and professor emeritus of medicine, died Dec. 11. He was 90.

Dr. Kendall was our eighth dean, serving from 1983 to 1992. He built a remarkable career in academic medicine and leaves behind a distinguished and lasting legacy at OHSU and the VA Portland Health Care System. He was a renowned endocrinologist and researcher, a strong and effective leader in both the school and the VA, recipient of numerous honors and accolades and a beloved husband and father.

I remember Dr. Kendall fondly as a role model for how to effectively lead and serve at OHSU and the VA. The School of Medicine will host a memorial service for him in the new year and will share details soon.

Ellen and Mark Richardson

I also want to remember another dean we held so dear: Mark Richardson, M.D., M.B.A. Mark’s untimely death in September 2016 was a foundational loss; an accomplished clinician and an outstanding leader across missions, Mark was vibrant and he was loved.

For these reasons, I am so pleased to share how we are honoring his legacy, and to express my personal gratitude to the many donors who helped move us forward.

After Mark died, his wife, Ellen Richardson, and the OHSU Foundation set up the Mark A. Richardson School of Medicine Endowment. Thanks to Ellen’s contributions and the generosity and advocacy of many donors, the fund has reached $2.5 million and will begin generating disbursements. Additional contributions will build toward a full deanship.

In accordance with Ellen’s wishes, some of the funding will offset the cost of the dean’s salary, freeing up funding for impactful projects not otherwise affordable.

Dr. George Mejicano, senior associate dean for education and close friend and colleague of Dean Mark Richardson, keeps Dean Richardson’s white coats as part of a memorial in his office.

A longtime benefactor of the the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Scholars program, of which Ellen founded the Oregon chapter, Mark was always deeply interested and invested in the interplay between clinical care and biomedical science; and, as he often remarked to his dear friend and colleague Dr. George Mejicano, “I just love being around smart people.”

So, in Mark’s honor, we will expand the community of some of our very smartest by adding another slot to the M.D./Ph.D. program. Individuals in the program earn both degrees, equipping them to combine the rigor of a scientific approach with the clinical expertise of a physician.

Growing our community of “smart people”

Physician scientists are catalytic colleagues at any academic health center and yet, because of the demands, numbers of those with this dual degree are diminishing nationally, and at OHSU. To grow their ranks, we expanded our small program this year from five slots to six with a promise to inch up to seven this coming fall. The Richardson endowment will allow us to add an eighth student; and this eighth slot will be designated for a student who identifies with a racial/ethnic group underrepresented in medicine.

Growing our training program for physician scientists is bookended by our Physician Scientist Program, which supports practicing clinicians with a scientific research career focus. The program helps departments create robust start-up packages to attract new scientists to OHSU, and dollars to support current faculty to reach the level of independent funding.

Paying tribute to those we care about and revere is personally rewarding. I hope we all can take a moment, amid the very real stressors that we endure as professionals and as people, to remember, to appreciate, to celebrate.

Thank you for all you do and all you bring to the OHSU community each day. I wish you peace, good cheer and relaxing time with family and friends over the holidays.

Sharon Anderson, M.D.
Dean, OHSU School of Medicine

A special thank you to our colleagues who share their beautiful singing voices to enliven us all with the holiday spirit.