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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    New Phoenix COM campus dealing with loss of faculty

    The UA College of Medicine is suffering from growing pains with the new College of Medicine campus in Phoenix, but nothing more, the college’s dean said.

    Making changes in faculty size and the way things are done at the medical college creates a stressful environment, Dr. Keith A. Joiner, vice provost of UA medical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine, wrote via e-mail.

    Recent rumblings about faculty losses have created some concern because high-level faculty members have recently left the college. Dr. David Yocum, a former director of the Arthritis Center, departed two years ago, and Dr. Alan Gelenberg resigned his post as the chief of psychiatry last month after 20 years.

    Joiner wrote that “”faculty come and go all the time.”” Fred DuVal, a member of the Arizona Board of Regents, agreed to an extent.

    “”Mobility in academic institutions is a normal and expected thing, and the extent of it at the COM is not yet atypical. But that said, to the extent there are some serious underlying issues at play here (that) deserve and are now getting the dean’s and president’s full attention.””

    DuVal did not elaborate on the issues.

    The reasons for faculty mobility vary.

    Third-year medical student Stephanie Gauby said she had not heard of any professors leaving the college due to internal problems, although she thought the new organ-based curriculum might be causing some movement.

    The new curriculum, which is in use in many medical colleges across the country, is centered on each organ or system in the human body, Gauby said. Instead of studying traditional individual subjects, like anatomy or pathology, the new curriculum involves looking at a system in the body – such as the cardiovascular system, its anatomy, pathology, physiology and more – as a single unit.

    Gauby said she has also heard that some professors are simply retiring.

    Joiner pointed out that faculty members leave for “”a multitude of reasons,”” including personal reasons, getting a promotion, being offered more money elsewhere or leaving to go into private practice.

    Only one faculty member has left the Tucson campus for the new campus, he added.

    “”We are not shrinking,”” Joiner wrote. “”We are growing, probably more so than almost any college of medicine in the country.””

    Lost faculty members are eclipsed in numbers by the high-level faculty coming in, he added.

    “”We are the envy of the nation, in terms of the opportunities we have for growth,”” Joiner wrote. “”We continue to recruit incredibly excellent, high profile (sic) faculty who are attracted here for that reason.””

    Despite fears that the College of Medicine is stretching itself too thin with an additional campus in Phoenix, some students say they are unaware of and unaffected by any problems within the college.

    Second-year medical student Melinda Valichnac said she had never heard of the high-level faculty who left, so she couldn’t see how it would be a big controversy.

    Similarly, Valichnac said the college’s administration has been open with the students. “”If they thought it was going to affect us, they would tell us,”” she said.

    While there are definitely a lot of individuals going to Phoenix, Valichnac said she believes the UA is compensating for it.

    “”Faculty who are moving up there are being replaced,”” she said. “”(And) I don’t think they’d hire less qualified people to replace them.””

    Plus, she added, student rotations between the Tucson and Phoenix campus means that professors moving to the Phoenix campus are not out of reach.

    “”I don’t think students are being overlooked,”” she said, adding that brand-new plasma screen TVs are everywhere to help with work that would traditionally be done with only a microscope. “”I don’t feel abandoned or anything like that.””

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