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VP Frank Cerra

Senior vice president Frank Cerra delivered the 2007 State of the AHC address Jan. 31 in Mayo Memorial Auditorium.

State of the AHC 2007

U's Academic Health Center aims to be premier destination for students, faculty and patients

By Jim Thorp

Brief, Feb. 7, 2007

Drawing on the University of Minnesota's historic mission and current trends in health care, education and research, senior vice president for health sciences Frank Cerra outlined a five-year progressive vision for the Academic Health Center during his annual State of the AHC address Jan. 31.

The address was delivered to a near-capacity crowd of students, faculty and staff in the newly remodeled, historic Mayo Memorial Auditorium and was telecast to U campuses in Duluth, Rochester and St. Paul.

Cerra's vision for the future of the AHC is based on extensive consultation with AHC faculty, staff and students. The process generated three principles that correspond to the U's three-fold mission of teaching, research and service:

The newly renovated Mayo Memorial Auditorium provided the perfect backdrop to discuss the AHC's technology needs for teaching, learning and research. The historic structure now boasts state-of-the-art technology for recording and webcasting audio, video and presentations, as well as for real-time question-and-answer sessions via the Web.

For more on the State of the AHC, view the video of the speech with an automated view of the accompanying presentation. Please note: The chat function that displays with the video was available only during the live speech.

While Cerra acknowledged competitive pressures and the need for new research space and upgraded technology infrastructure, he offered an upbeat assessment of the AHC and its relationship to the University overall. "[The Academic Health Center] is increasingly recognized for the growing strength of its faculty, the rigor and vitality of its degree programs, and the impact of its clinics and hospitals on the health of the community. Our reputation is leading others in the state to say to us, 'We want to be your partner,'" said Cerra. "Student application rates are way up. ... [Deans] are feeling the pressure of having to disappoint high-achieving students who are denied entry to our schools."

Cerra also said that the AHC is 90-percent effective in recruiting specific faculty members to meet its needs and has developed much more effective methods of identifying, recruiting and retaining faculty despite a highly competitive recruiting environment--all of which helps to support the U's goal of becoming a top-three public research university.

"The health sciences are recognized now as being part of this University and working with it to achieve the aspirational goal--not because 'We need the University and they need us,' but because we are one."

The speech was preceded by the AHC Faculty Assembly and followed by a reception and tours of the renovated building. Mayo Memorial Auditorium was built in the 1950s and has been the site of teaching by world-renowned physicians such as Nobel Prize-winner Louis Ignarro.

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