Boonshoft School of Medicine | Photo by Soham Parikh | The Wright State Guardian
On Nov. 1, the Wright State University (WSU) Boonshoft School of Medicine received a new Dean, Dr. Valerie Weber, who wishes to take an already great school and make it even better.
Her goals as Dean and message to medical students
Dr. Weber wants to make the Boonshoft School of Medicine a place where revolutionary medical work happens in the community.
“One of my goals is to really work with all of our hospital partners in the region, our community partners, our partners in public health and to really, as the medical school, be the leader of some real work to be done,” said Dr. Weber
Noting the difficult year that students have been faced with, Dr. Weber also wants to use her voice as the Dean to improve life for the students. Dr. Weber realizes that the pandemic is not the only hardship students have had to face this year, but that racial inequalities and the fight with the Black Lives Matter movement has been weighing on students as well.
“The other thing is to really improve things for the students. It’s been a really difficult year with the pandemic and then on top of the the tragedies affecting black Americans, and really affecting all of us, and so ‘how do we create an anti-racist environment?’ and ‘how to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for everybody here?’ That’s something that is really important to me and will be working on that over the next year and into the future. It’s a job that you’re never done with, but it is something that is extremely important to me,” said Dr. Weber.
While she has big plans for the School of Medicine, Dr. Weber says that the beginning of her time as Dean has been and will be spent learning and becoming a part of the WSU community.
“My first period of time is really about listening and learning. You can’t come into a place with preconceived ideas. Of course, I do have ideas about things that I’d like to work on,” said Dr. Weber.
What led her to WSU
After growing up and attending medical school in Pennsylvania, Dr. Weber saw an opening at the Boonshoft School of Medicine at WSU. Her brother has lived in Dayton for nearly 30 years, so the opening caught her attention.
Although she found a passion for medical education early on in her career, Dr. Weber admits that she did not think about becoming a Dean until a couple years back when a mentor of hers gave her the encouragement needed to go the next step in her career.
“My dean that I worked for who was a close friend and mentor of mine was very encouraging that we need more women deans. Because only 20% of medical schools have deans that are women. So there’s a big gender disparity in academic medicine,” said Dr. Weber.
Dr. Weber saw how great of a school the Boonshoft School of Medicine is and felt determined that she could help push it over the edge to become even better for its students.
“The reason that I came here is… seeing the need for community-based medical schools–that’s what we call medical schools that are really rooted in the community– and seeing the potential for the school that’s already a great school to become even better and to grow,” said Dr. Weber.
As for her first weeks at WSU, Dr. Weber says that she misses the atmosphere of students on campus but commends WSU for the way that they are treating the pandemic.