Yesterday we had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Jeffrey Vitter for a day-long visit to campus.
Dr. Vitter will become chancellor of the University of Mississippi January 1. As it turns out, his first official duty will be to attend the Sugar Bowl in his native New Orleans. Not bad for a first day on the job!
When he last visited, during the chancellor search process, we were mostly learning about Jeff Vitter. Yesterday was his opportunity to learn about us.
During a whirlwind tour, he saw helicopters, preemies, MedCom, research labs, shock-trauma rooms, construction sites, and the brightly-painted murals of the Children's Cancer Clinic.
He met with deans and senior leaders, and had lunch with a large contingent of students and residents, who never cease to amaze me with their enthusiasm and smarts.
At the end of a long day, Dr. Vitter said he was impressed not only with the scope of things we are involved in, but that we have such a direct impact on people's lives. He took note of our history of leadership in surgery and cardiovascular research. He said he was most touched by his visit to the Children's Hospital and our tiniest patients in the NICU.
The number one message he brought to us is his interest in the development of a closer relationship between the UM campus in Oxford and the UMMC campus in Jackson.
His reasoning? More collaboration will create benefits in their own right. But in terms of national stature, the more Ole Miss and the Medical Center are perceived as working together toward mutual goals, the more likely that we will be counted in the top tier of research-intensive universities.
I think that's an admirable goal, and we've already laid a solid foundation for further development. A few examples:
- Working with our colleagues at Ole Miss, we've established a bi-campus Research Day to highlight research achievement on both campuses. The first event was held in Oxford; the next one will be here.