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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Medical students protest job loss

    Students in the UA College of Medicine are rising up to protest the “”new direction”” the college is taking by removing Associate Dean of Student Affairs Christopher Leadem from his job.

    A large contingent of medical students gathered Friday afternoon in the Arizona Health Sciences building to sign a letter addressed to UA President Robert Shelton expressing concern over the demotion of Leadem to a teaching position.

    The letter, drafted by a group of student leaders, informed Shelton that the demotion came as a shock to medical students who regard Leadem as a highly valued advisor and key player in the process of students’ professional development.

    On Thursday, medical students received an e-mail from College of Medicine Vice Dean for Academic Affairs T. Philip Malan with the announcement that the college will be “”seeking new leadership”” in the area of student affairs.

    “”The concern among students is the removal of Leadem, who is viewed universally as a beacon of support for students, professionalism, respect, accountability, compassion, honesty, all of the qualities that the school is trying to make in positions in the future,”” said Sigrid Gardner, a second-year medical student and chair of the College of Medicine’s student government. “”The concern is that any direction that we’re going that can’t involve Dr. Leadem I think raises red flags in my mind.””

    Leadem declined to comment for the Daily Wildcat.

    Each student signed and addressed individual copies of the letter, which were also sent to Malan, College of Medicine Vice President of Health Affairs William Crist, and College of Medicine interim dean Steven Goldschmid.

    Gardner said she expected at least half of the UA’s medical students to send copies of the letter.

    Malan denied the college was changing directions but added that efforts are being made to enhance recruitment and increase offerings in the area of student affairs, including financial management and residency seminars.

    “”The college isn’t going in a new direction,”” Malan said. “”The philosophy of the college, as far as students are concerned, remains the same,””

    Malan said that although no one is currently being considered for the dean of student affairs position, he hopes to have made a decision by the beginning of the fall semester.

    Nevertheless, Gardner said, Leadem’s demotion strikes a personal chord with many students for whom Leadem’s personality and accessibility made him a “”selling point”” in their decision to attend the UA.

    She added that many students were depending on Leadem to write letters of recommendation for residency programs and other future prospects. Because students are expected to have letters from their dean of student affairs, Leadem will no longer be able to write those letters, she said.

    The decision to demote Leadem was unnecessary and not in the best interests of students, said Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Larry Moher.

    “”(Leadem) does not want to go out this way. I can’t think of a reason why this happened, and I’m afraid of what’s going to happen to the school,”” Moher said.

    Priyanka Sarihan, a first-year medical student, also voiced her indignation.

    “”It almost seems like they got rid of Leadem because they wanted to clear a path for destruction and Leadem was in the way,”” she said.

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