The inauguration of DMU’s new president, Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., featured many facets, from the formal installation ceremony on Sept. 24 at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines to the festive five-kilometer “Run DMU.” It even inspired an original musical work, “Angela’s Dream – Purposed for Leadership,” composed by James Lewis III, the son of President Franklin’s longtime friends, Karen and James Lewis II, and performed at the Sept. 24 celebration dinner. “I predict we will look back at the installation of Angela Walker Franklin as a seminal day at Des Moines University,” DMU Provost Karen McLean, Ph.D., said during the ceremony. Praising past University leaders for “paving the way for transformational change,” she added, “Dr. Franklin’s strong academic background and service leadership make her the right individual to lead this institution in its next stage of growth and development.”
On Sept. 24, William Anderson, D.O.’56, FACOS, expressed his feelings in a manner both delightful and profound.
“It was 60 years ago almost that I first came to what was Des Moines Still College of Osteopathy, and I did not think that I would live to see this day. I mean, how much can one man take?” said the DMU trustee emeritus, drawing laughter from attendees at the installation ceremony of Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., as DMU’s 15th president.
“I celebrated the election of Barack Obama as the first African American president of the United States, and now Angela Walker Franklin as the president of Des Moines University,” he continued, speaking at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines. “To the health professions represented here, continue to be proud of the heritage this University has, but also make a commitment to our new president and to the University itself that we’ll make certain our future is even bigger and better.”
President Franklin agreed. “Our collective vision for the future should be rich with an outrageous ambition to make things better, not just for our students, our faculty, our staff, but for the larger community,” she said in her inaugural address. “I ask that we dream big and set aspirational goals…My vision for the future of Des Moines University centers around a simple principle of excellence.”
With a theme of “doing a world of good…a commitment to health and excellence,” the inauguration drew friends and colleagues from Morehouse School of Medicine and Meharry Medical College, where President Franklin held leadership positions over the past 25 years. It attracted friends from Furman University and Emory University, where she earned her bachelor’s and graduate degrees, respectively. It brought together representatives of the community, the health professions and DMU’s three colleges.
The inauguration even drew a 50-passenger bus of family and friends that had traveled from McCormick, SC, President Franklin’s hometown, and through Atlanta and Nashville. Her parents, Hervey Wesley Walker Jr. and Leola Grant Walker, provided the bus, which arrived at DMU in time for a campus picnic on Sept. 23.
“Those who have known me for a while, know that I have often talked about the fact that I tend to gather people along the way as I journey through life,” President Franklin said in her inauguration address. She drew an analogy to what she envisions for DMU. “It takes a village…not just for raising children, but for raising up an academic health center, a health sciences university, a Des Moines University. We are all in this together, this Board of Trustees, the administrative staff, the faculty, the students, the alumni, the community and business leaders, and our friends and supporters. We are doing a world of good.”
Serving as the president of an academic health center amid the changes and challenges of health care “is not for the faint of heart,” noted Larry Baker, D.O.’77, chair-elect of the DMU Board of Trustees, speaking as the presiding official at President Franklin’s inauguration ceremony. “However, we have survived and prospered because of the dedication and determination of our faculty and leaders. I have no doubt those characteristics will continue for years to come. With the installation of a new president, we are entering a new chapter full of optimism and resolve.”
At the ceremony, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie was among those pledging support to President Franklin and to DMU. He praised its leaders for “making the proper name change” to Des Moines University, from the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences, in 1999.
“For a body to be strong and healthy, you must have a strong heart. Your location in the heart of our city helps our entire region,” he said, adding that President Franklin will “make DMU stronger.”
Those issuing “calls to service” at the ceremony included students representing DMU’s three colleges. Matthew Treat, class president of the 2012 physician assistant class, College of Health Sciences, called on President Franklin to “continue the incorporation of interprofessional education into our curriculum.”
“As a second-year PA student on rotations, it is exciting for me to return to campus and watch as progress is made to teach students the value of understanding their own profession, while simultaneously discovering the value of other health professionals they will encounter throughout their careers,” he said.
Casey Ebert, D.P.M.’13, president of the Iowa Podiatric Medical Students Association, which serves as the student government for the College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, praised DMU’s “outstanding facilities and high level of technology,” but she asked that President Franklin and the University “not lose sight of the most important entities of our medical education today, care and compassion.”
“It is the patient-focused, humanistic philosophy emphasized on this campus that continues to set graduates of Des Moines University apart from the rest,” she added. “I would like to ask that you continue to embrace a University that prioritizes patients’ needs and continually reminds students and faculty of the compassionate nature that initially led them to the field of medicine.”
Akash Shah, D.O.’14, president of the College of Osteopathic Medicine Student Government Association, called on the University community to “create a culture in which difference is valued, disparities in health care are recognized and inclusiveness is practiced as a core component of integrity.”
“By providing us this type of medical education, we will indeed become more competent health care providers,” he said. “However, the more important outcome here is improved health care delivery to our vastly diverse population of future patients.”
On behalf of the DMU faculty, Traci Bush, M.S.P.T., O.T.R./L., D.H.S., the chair, program director and associate professor of the doctor of physical therapy program, asked President Franklin to “appreciate and understand” the strengths of the faculty and “help us identify opportunities for improvement.”
“It is my call to you and my sincere hope that you can look into the future and see Des Moines University not as it is, but how it should be and what it can be,” she added.
Alumni from DMU’s three colleges, including William Anderson, D.O.’56 (see page 18), welcomed President Franklin while imploring their fellow graduates to become and remain engaged with the University.
“Whether by donating scholarships, offering clinical rotation sites, supporting internships or serving as preceptors and mentors, get active. Be involved. Stay in touch,” said Marcia Grassman Hammers, B.H.A.’88, president of the DMU Alumni Association Board of Directors.
William Hal Hatchett, D.P.M.’00, a member of the DMU Board of Trustees, expressed confidence in the University’s continued success under the leadership of its new president. He added: “Today I charge President Franklin to continue to make Des Moines University a model for education in preparing the most qualified and motivated students for their professions while establishing a lifelong connection to their University and college.”
As I have said from the very beginning, this day is not so much about me, but about this great institution, Des Moines University. So today, we celebrate an institution. We gather to rejoice in the University’s history, its traditions, its successes and its rich potential.
So where did this all begin?
Des Moines University has evolved from its very modest yet noble founding in 1898 by Summerfield Saunders Still, nephew of the founder of osteopathy, Andrew Taylor Still, and his wife, Ella Daugherty Still. We began as the Summerfield Saunders (S.S.) Still College of Osteopathy, and over this period of 113 years we have undergone several name changes and locations. What has been preserved, however, are the spirit and tenacity of our founding fathers and mothers who were forever striving for validation and excellence in the delivery of care. We have had a long and distinguished history. We are:
- One of the first osteopathic institutions to offer a diploma rather than a certificate to its graduates
- Among the first to lead osteopathic education to adopt a four-year program of professional studies
- The first college of osteopathic medicine and surgery to be accepted into membership into the Association of Academic Health Centers
- The first health sciences university to be born out of an osteopathic college
- The first osteopathic medical school to begin a physician assistant program
- The first College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery established in a health sciences university
…So here we are today: a health sciences university, a unique configuration of colleges and programs that now defines us. What a wonderful journey, what a wonderful track record we now enjoy. So I come to this place understanding and respecting this history, and I am mindful of the challenges, the worries, the setbacks, the revolutions and the successes of the past. However, I intend to take the wisdom of the leaders from the past, the good will and personal triumphs of those who soldiered on down in the trenches, those who endured but were forever focused on what could be, and I combine that with a desire and willingness to be so much better than we ever imagined before.
So where do we go from here?
At my first commencement this year in May, I gave a charge to the graduating class. The charge began with a favorite quote of mine, which is: “Know that you will make your living by what you get, but you will make a life by what you give.” I asked that they go and serve by fulfilling the mission of this school in the delivery of medical care, in the advancement of knowledge and in strengthening our system of health care. I asked that they reach far, dream colossal dreams, set audacious goals, be bold in leadership and, in the name of service to mankind, be possessed of an outrageous ambition to make things better.
In a similar way that I charged the students, I would like to also give a charge to the entire campus community…Our collective vision for the future should be rich with an outrageous ambition to make things better, not just for our students, our faculty, our staff, but for the larger community. I ask that we dream big and set aspirational goals, but be forever mindful of the steps, sometimes first steps, sometimes baby steps, that we must take to move forward.
I have taken to heart the position recently offered by Steve Wartman of the Association of Academic Health Centers, who states that “health sciences universities like us should no longer be able to say that their missions are solely education, research and service/patient care. Missions instead must be viewed as functions that enable institutions to achieve their overarching mission, which ultimately is the improved health and well-being of their communities.”
In order to do this, we must be deliberate in what has been called a “recalibration,” a value proposition for all academic health centers.
As we look to the future, we must make sure that education is more explicitly linked to societal needs.
As we look to the future, we must make sure that education is more explicitly linked to societal needs, research to health, and patient care to specific community and regional needs. We cannot do that alone without the community and the recognition of the fact that there are other members of the team who will be there with us in shaping the future of health care. Interprofessional collaborations and interprofessional training will be at the center of these new recalibrations.
So what are the expectations for the future of health sciences universities like DMU?
I would offer that we be very deliberate and be bold in our vision. I believe we, too, must recalibrate. Not only does it mean a new way of thinking to embrace best practices, but also a boldness in approach, which requires that we become very deliberate in our effort to connect with the community at large.
So I can imagine a Des Moines University of the future that has become a destination institution where we will be recognized nationally for our innovative health education programs that promote lifelong learning.
We will be recognized as a leader and partner in the delivery of premier services that impact health, wellness and education in our communities.
We will partner to engage in transforming our communities to be healthy and well.
And we will value the discovery of knowledge and cultivate distinctive faculty and student researchers with a commitment to health and excellence.
Personally, I have a passion for higher education and a commitment to academic excellence. My vision for the future of Des Moines University centers around a simple principle of excellence…In all that we do, we place the highest priority on respect for the dignity and diversity of the members of the entire campus community – patients, students, faculty, employees and volunteers. We are committed to supporting professional, intellectual and emotional growth so that all may have the opportunity to fulfill their potential and achieve their goals. We also embrace the values of honesty, accountability, collaboration and inclusiveness as the basic tenets of integrity. We are committed to fostering a climate that doesn’t just tolerate differences but treasures them, because we become better citizens of this world and better health care providers when we embrace the rich opportunities afforded to us when we learn from our differences.
I see DMU becoming a destination institution for individuals committed to learning in an environment that promotes excellence, from the delivery of the curriculum in state-of-the-art facilities and hands-on learning experiences that stress the personal touch in a compassionate and holistic manner, to a curriculum that addresses culturally competent care. And as we promote health and wellness, we embrace a philosophy which challenges us to shift from an illness model to a wellness model of care…
Given our purpose, given our vision for the future, we will continue to stand on one simple principle – we will remain committed to health and committed to excellence in all that we do.
I accept the calls to service, and I challenge us all to move forward together in striving for excellence. And as I heed the calls to service, accept the challenge for leadership and reaffirm my own personal core values of inclusivity, diversity, integrity, compassion and collaboration, and my own commitment to integral leadership and servant leadership, then let us all go forward in celebrating Des Moines University, for all that it has been and all that it will become, for we are truly doing a world of good with a commitment to health and excellence.