Texas A&M Health Science Center (HSC) students and faculty came from far and wide to participate in a long-held tradition—convocation. In academia, “convocation” is a ceremonial assembly of the members of a college or university. Traditionally, it highlights accomplishments of the previous year and serves as an annual or biannual opportunity for the university community to hear from its leadership.

Every two years, the faculty, staff, students and administration from across the HSC gather to participate in a formal academic convocation. Unlike more traditional convocations, community members and stakeholders from throughout the state with a vested interest in the success of the HSC are also invited to participate. For the first time in the history of the HSC, all campuses were linked together through technology, joining 1,400 people from across the state for the 2010 Convocation.

 

Ushering in a community

This year’s HSC biennial convocation was held on a stage often set for presidents and distinguished guests: The Leonore and Walter Annenberg Presidential Conference Center at the George Bush Library Conference Center.
With flags unfurled and banners held high, students – some in their white coats – and faculty in regalia marched into two auditoriums, filed into rows of seats and took their places for the ceremony. Hundreds more watched from live camera feeds from HSC colleges while others viewed the proceedings on their computer through an interactive program known as Second Life.

Introduced to the HSC community at convocation, this technology can be used to recreate campuses in a virtual world. And, that’s exactly how the HSC is using Second Life. An HSC world is currently being constructed to foster innovation in education. Students will be able to create an avatar, thus allowing them to navigate around the campus, participate in classes and practice skills in simulated activities held on the virtual HSC campus. As the HSC moves forward with this technology, it also moves forward in pursuing many other areas of excellence.

Moving forward in 2010

With a crowd watching from College Station to Round Rock and Dallas to Kingsville, Dr. Dorsey, HSC vice president for program development and community outreach, began the ceremony with an introduction to the theme “Leading a Community of Excellence.” The HSC community was given a charge from Dr. Dorsey to continue to pursue excellence moving forward in 2010.

Nancy W. Dickey, M.D., president of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and vice chancellor for health affairs for The Texas A&M University System, delivered the keynote address.

“The excellence of our community is enhanced by our advanced technology, intellectual gravitas and state-of-the-art buildings,” Dr. Dickey says. “But, our excellence of leadership comes from our moral dedication to alleviate suffering no matter what.

“Scientists, students, researchers, administrators, clinicians and caregivers, public advocates, supporters and elected officials,” Dr. Dickey said. “Together, we are a rich mosaic reflecting a diversity of thought, geographic location and culture that is a unified community—one that is more than the sum of its parts; one that has distinguished itself as a leader for the last 10 years.”

Building from the ground up

And those 10 years have been ones of consolidating, building and changing the landscape of health care education. From its beginnings in 1999, the Texas A&M Health Science Center has unified into one body: dentistry, medicine, nursing, rural public health, research and pharmacy. Original members consisted of the College of Medicine, School of Rural Public Health, Baylor College of Dentistry, Institute of Biosciences and Technology, and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy joined in 2006, followed by the College of Nursing in 2008.

Dr. Dickey reflected on the 10-year anniversary with optimism toward the same growth and excellence in the next decade.

“We have achieved much, but the struggle is daunting, and we are not done,” she says. “There are still underserved populations to address in Texas, the United States and across the globe. There are still wonders to discover in our labs. There are still others we must teach and inspire. There are the aged, the infirm and the disenfranchised that are counting on our commitment, our knowledge, our compassion – our scrappiness – to fight for them.”

Presidential Awards for Excellence

  • Community Outreach
    Coastal Bend Health Education Center Medication Assistance Program
  • Health Care Services and Delivery
    Dr. Clifford J. Buckley
  • Research
    Dr. Rena N. D’Souza
  • Institutional
    Advancement

    Avery Family & Bob Wunsch
  • Education & Mentorship
    Dr. Ernestine Lacy
  • Administrative Support
    Carol Ames
  • Advancing Education and Health Care in Texas
    State Sen. Steve Ogden

 

Awarding excellence

During convocation, Dr. Dickey awarded seven Presidential Awards for Excellence to individuals or groups who personified servant leadership in the areas of community outreach, health care services and delivery, research, institutional advancement, education and mentorship, and administrative support. A special Presidential Award for Excellence in Advancing Education and Health Care in Texas was presented to State Sen. Steve Ogden, R-District 5. Faculty and researchers also were awarded in the ceremony, while Regents Professors and distinguished and emeritus professors were acknowledged for their work.

Acknowledging excellence, unveiling a tribute

Additional remarks were provided by A&M System Chancellor Michael D. McKinney, M.D.; A&M System Board of Regents Chairman Morris E. Foster; Jane Bolin, J.D., Ph.D., outgoing speaker of the Faculty Senate; and College of Medicine student Britney Prince, president of the Student Government Association. The event also included an unveiling of some original Benjamin Knox paintings – which when complete will include a collage of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and its primary disciplines (dentistry, medicine, public health, research, pharmacy and nursing).

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