School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Dean's Message

Dear School of Medicine Family:  Valerie Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.

It is with very mixed emotions that I announce to you that I will be leaving Wayne State University at the end of this academic year to take a new position at the University of South Florida in Tampa. While I am very happy here at WSU as dean of the School of Medicine, I was presented an unparalleled opportunity to lead Academic Affairs for the six schools of USF Health, under the direction of Senior Vice President Charles Lockwood, a 30-year colleague of mine.

It has been a distinct privilege and honor to work with all of you over the last seven and one-half years, more than five as dean. I arrived during tumultuous times and in Detroit’s worst economic challenges, and yet we have made many strides forward together, culminating in the WSU School of Medicine being one of three finalists for the Association of American Medical Colleges’ prestigious Spencer Foreman Award for Community Service this year.

We were successful together in producing so much excellent clinical and translational science with the Perinatology Research Branch that the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development awarded us another 10-year contract for $165.9 million in February 2013 after a full and open competition.  Gov. Rick Snyder made infant mortality reduction one of his two key health initiatives and asked us to lead the statewide task force, and Mayor Mike Duggan appointed Dr. Sonia Hassan to lead Detroit’s own initiative.

We have worked very hard together on our critical clinical partnerships, resulting in healthy long-term relationships with the Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, Oakwood Health System and Crittenton Hospital Medical Center for our medical students’ education, our faculty’s teaching and scholarly activity, and for the improved health of our communities.

Despite the extremely tough economic climate, we managed to get several buildings in the ground, in partnership with our dedicated alumni for the Mazurek Education Commons, the State of Michigan for our new research building, through creative public private partnerships for the Tolan Park Building, and the Wayne State University Physician Group multi-specialty clinical practice building for which we broke ground just last week.

But most important is the steady increase in the tangible evidence of our students’ success. In the last five years the entering classes have more impressive quantitative and holistic credentials. Their pass rates and absolute scores on USMLE exams have improved, and their match rates and quality have been superb in a very competitive environment.

We also established the Michigan Area Health Education Center in collaboration with the College of Nursing, the Eugene Applebaum College Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the School of Social Work. Working in partnership with community organizations, health providers and government agencies, MI-AHEC promotes health career opportunities to students and underrepresented minorities, encourages students and health professionals to work in areas with limited primary care providers and enhances the knowledge and skills of a diverse workforce of health professionals throughout Michigan.

These are only a few of the numerous accomplishments you have worked with me to achieve. The leadership of the vice deans and the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate has been outstanding, and I am deeply indebted to them for their hard work and wise counsel during these years. I am equally grateful to all of the individuals who work on the dean’s staff for keeping our school and me pointed always in the right direction.

I have been fortunate to work with four presidents and four provosts here at WSU, and particularly want to thank President Wilson and Provost Winters, as well as the entire cabinet, for supporting me and the School of Medicine this past year. I know that they have the university on an upward trajectory. I will continue to work with the president and provost to ensure a smooth leadership transition and a successful Liaison Committee on Medical Education site visit.

I have been truly honored to work with our alumni and other donors and members of the community who have a particular dedication to the mission of WSU and the School of Medicine. The Board of Governors, Board of Visitors, Alumni Board, elected state and federal legislators, and community leaders have all rolled up their sleeves over these last seven and one-half years when we have needed them and are a big part of the successes we have achieved. They have my enduring gratitude.

I wanted all of you to hear this news from me, and not through the proverbial grapevine or in the media. While you and I both have new challenges ahead, my experiences here at WSU have prepared me well. On leaving Miami for Cleveland, Lebron James said: “Nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. I’m ready to accept the challenge.”

Thanks to you, so am I.

Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.
Very Proud Dean
Wayne State University School of Medicine