Perhaps cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead put it best when she wrote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does."
While the rare transformative gift can propel an institution to the next level, it is truly the continued, day in, day out commitment of friends, supporters and advocates that keep it there. The Dean's Fund for Excellence is a shining example of Margaret Mead's words in action: a fund rooted in the belief that there is a place for everyone, at every level in creating, promoting and sustaining an environment in which excellence can thrive at the OHSU School of Medicine.
Christianne Kratka, MD R'85, and her husband, Reed F. Kratka, MD R'85, are just two of the 735 donors in the past year who have chosen to put their contributions in the hands of the Dean, to be directed to the purposeful achievement of excellence. "I received great training at OHSU," said Dr. Christianne Kratka, "and I want others to experience the same success and enjoyment that I had there."
In addition to her philanthropic support, Dr. Kratka supports the pursuit of excellence by offering preceptorships to OHSU students in her Eugene clinic. "I feel strongly that Oregon needs the best physicians who have every opportunity to excel here. It's almost a no-brainer for me to want to be a part of making that a reality," she said.
For Fund contributor Mitchell Heinemann, MD '44, training as a medical student in the war years meant holding down an evening job. "It was simple – there was no such thing as help. If you didn't have the money, you couldn't go to medical school," he said. Fortunately, Dr. Heinemann did not face a significant commute to work. "I was the night clerk in the OHSU library," he said. "I'd check books out and collect materials from back on the reserve shelf. We had extraordinary people such as Bertha Hallam and Margaret Hughes to help us and ensure we had access to the best that was available."
In recent months the Fund has been an invisible but essential part of the lives of medical students from their first hours. The White Coat ceremony, at which the incoming class is welcomed by their peers into the profession, is an example of what it helps to support. The ceremony serves both as a celebration and also as a gateway moment to a profession characterized by service to others and elevated expectations as to conduct and professionalism. It also provides students and faculty with the equipment and tools necessary for a 21st century curriculum, and the Dean's Fund for Excellence Scholarship helps defray the rapidly-increasing costs of a medical education.
Accessing the best that is available continues to dominate the pursuit of excellence. The principle applies from the recruitment of outstanding and diverse students and faculty to supporting them when they are at OHSU. "Without the committed support of this small army of philanthropists we would be challenged to provide the kind of environment where all our students can excel," said Mark Richardson, MD, MBA, Dean, OHSU School of Medicine. "I am grateful to each of our donors for the essential personal and philanthropic resources that they contribute to the School."
Pictured: Donors to the Dean's Fund for Excellence, including those who are members of the 1887 Society, have funded the purchase of in-classroom monitors to enhance the teaching curriculum.