The new academic year is upon us. 

On September 5, we will welcome 326 new students in programs in Genetic Counseling, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Physician Assistant Studies, Health Professions Education, Health Administration, Healthcare Data Analytics, and several new and existing programs in the School of Nursing. We are so pleased that you have chosen our school to begin your journey into the world of healthcare. You will get an exemplary education, taught by faculty who are experts in their disciplines and master teachers in the classroom. We are committed to preparing leaders in healthcare who will work toward a more inclusive and accessible healthcare delivery system. Our community is one of support and guidance to assure your success, and I hope you enjoy your time with us. 

To our returning students, welcome back. I hope you have a productive and engaging year. For those who are in their final year, you’ll discover that time will never go so fast. Before you know it, the faculty and I will be congratulating you next May during you’re the 2024 Commencement. I hope you take the time to reflect on how far you have come, how much you have learned, and how incredibly privileged you are to be entering a career in healthcare. You’ll have the opportunity to enter people’s lives at their most vulnerable time and make a difference that is often life changing for the people we touch. Not many people can say that.   

I hesitate to say “welcome back” to faculty and staff because for many, the summers are as busy as the rest of the year. So let me just say welcome to the new academic year.  

Each start of the new academic year brings a sense of excitement in the air that is reflective of a new beginning, new opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others, and a new opportunity to create a preferred future. This year is particularly exciting because we are embarking on developing a new three-year strategic plan to guide us until 2027. It will replace the previous four-year strategic plan that included six strategic priorities, each of which had several initiatives and tactics. It was ambitious, but one to which we were fully committed. 

We began that plan in January 2018 and were well on our way of implementing much of it until February 2020. We all know what happened then, and the focus turned to maintenance of our educational enterprise in the face of the pandemic. We extended the end date until December of 2023 because there were initiatives we wanted to achieve and needed more time to complete them. 

While we didn’t accomplish all we had set out to do, we did a great deal. For example, Strategic Priority (SP) 5 was “Build and Nurture a Diverse and Inclusive Institute Community.” We developed the JEDI Office and hired its first leader, Dr. Kimberly Truong, who has led efforts to integrate JEDI principles into all aspects of the IHP, including the curriculum. Another example is SP3: “Establish the Institute as a Leader in Research and Scholarship.” Thanks to the leadership Dr. Jordan Green and Dr. Nara Gavini, we have had amazing success in this priority, rising to $45 million in extramural funding. This amount makes the IHP the third largest generator of extramural funding in the MGB system. Both examples demonstrate the power of how a strategic plan can help focus the time, resources, and funding to areas where we see opportunity for success. There will be more to come on the outcomes of the current strategic plan at a community Town Hall in the fall. 

We began our work on the new 2024-2027 strategic plan last April. Through the incredibly generous gift of time this summer from faculty, staff, and students, we were able to revise our mission, vision, and values statements and identify six strategic priorities on which to focus. We have much more work to do in this planning process, and will continue to ask members of the IHP community to help us with the important job of identifying tactics and metrics for these priorities.    

Our new strategic plan will be a working document that gives us direction and focus for the future, one that is nimble enough to allow us to pivot and apply time and resources to take advantage of new opportunities. I am excited to develop the document that will give the IHP a roadmap for our future. 

For our students, you have taken the first steps on your roadmap for your own future. I wish you all a wonderful and productive fall semester.