On a gray day, UNMC shines for regents' visit

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If they came looking to put a face on the work being done at UNMC, members of the University of Nebraska's Board of Regents found one with a big smile.

Brady, 6-year-old receiving early intervention services at the Munroe-Meyer Institute, was demonstrating his shoe-tying abilities for UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., and members of the board when Wayne Fisher, Ph.D., entered the room.

"Dr. Fisher!" cried the delighted boy. He first asked politely for tickles, and then requested a "big jump, please."

"I want to go real high," he said, laughing as Dr. Fisher lifted him into the air with a smile.

It was spontaneous and heartwarming -- but only one of the many examples the regents saw last week of how UNMC is changing people's lives for the better.

From gait studies that may improve the safety of older adults to student-run clinics that serve the community to the promise of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, the regents were treated to many examples of UNMC's statewide impact.

The regents react

Regent Bob Phares said he enjoyed the enthusiasm of the students he met.

"I'm always impressed with the quality of the programs that are going on here," Phares said.

Regent Tim Clare said it was exciting to hear about the different programs going on at UNMC and the "pioneering efforts that are being undertaken."

"Hal Maurer did an outstanding job, and we owe him a debt of gratitude," Clare said, "and we're really excited about how Jeff Gold is going to pick the baton up and continue taking it to new heights."

Student regent Krupa Savalia said she was impressed by the number of interdisciplinary projects underway.

"The pharmacy presentation was really eye-opening for me," she added.

Regent Bob Whitehouse said the visit gave the governing board a chance to see firsthand how important the programs at UNMC are.

"Every time I'm on one of these visits, I'm just amazed at the things that take place," he said.

Despite the snowy weather, four members of the University of Nebraska's Board of Regents visited UNMC on Thursday to learn about new initiatives, ongoing projects and cutting-edge research at the center.

Regents Timothy Clare, Bob Whitehouse, Bob Phares, Kent Schroeder and UNMC student regent Krupa Savalia, arrived on campus at 9 a.m. to a welcome from University of Nebraska President J.B. Milliken.

Throughout the day, they met with a variety of students, faculty and campus leaders. (See sidebar at right.)

On-campus visits are important, regent Kent Schroeder said.

"It's one thing to sit down at Varner Hall and approve a program or a capital improvement at the med center; it's something else to come here and see it live, to see the viability of it, what it's doing and how it's enhancing health care in the state of Nebraska," he said.

Dr. Gold said the day contained multiple points of pride for him.

"It showcased a number of wonderful programs," he said. "It gave the regents an opportunity to meet with key faculty members, who are not only very good at what they do, but who exemplify great pride in being part of UNMC and the University of Nebraska."

The high point, though was watching the regents interact with the students.

"Their energy and their incredible satisfaction and pride were apparent to everybody," he said. "They literally glowed."


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Tough choices

When it was time to say goodbye, Chancellor Gold told the regents that one of the toughest parts of getting ready for their visit was selecting which of hundreds of impressive projects and programs he would spotlight for them.

During their visit, the regents:

  • attended a presentation by the chancellor titled "A Vital Future for UNMC";
  • received an update on the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center from Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D.;
  • learned about the promise of artificial cartilage and the work of Andrew Dudley, Ph.D., and Angela Pannier, Ph.D. (of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln);
  • attended a presentation on the Nebraska Biobank and Clinical Research Center with Jennifer Larsen, M.D., and Chris Kratochvil, M.D.;
  • met with students and faculty, inclung Audrey Paulman, M.D., to discuss the SHARING Clinics;
  • heard from Ally Dering-Anderson, Pharm.D., Julie Oestriech, Ph.D., and Donald Klepser, Ph.D., about pharmacy collaboration in rural areas;
  • enjoyed lunch with the UNMC leadership team;
  • met with Dawn Venema, Ph.D. and Joseph Siu, Ph.D., to discuss their research on multitasking among older adults; and
  • visited the Munroe-Meyer Institute to learn about recent developments in the treatment of autism.