Council Minutes for November 2011:

Persons in Attendence:

Vijay Pandyarajan, Meredith Sorenson, Tom Richardson, Heather Connelly, Tyler Miller, Zach Nevin, Anna Henry, Danica Wiredja, Kirkland Wilson, Abner Murray, Jeff Krimmel, Pam Marcott, DaShawn Hickman, Alex Tong, Marisa Winkler, Andrea Cohen, Emily Hamburg, Tony Scott, Joe Vithayathil, Brent Cameron, Robert Hyde, Gloria Tavera, Paul Lin, Cliff Harding



November 8, 2011



1.     Summer retreat

2.     Winter retreat

3.     Back to wards dinner

4.     Interviewing session

5.     Monthly meeting

6.     Contacting accepted students

7.     Community service

8.     Social committee

9.     Winter holiday party

10.  Womenís group

11.  Representative to GSS

12.  Communications committee


Summer retreat committee:

Pam announced some speaker ideas.  Daniel Alt has contributed some exciting engineering faculty, and Dan and Anna have been in touch with faculty members at CWRU School of Engineering who can help us schedule these individuals.  Cliff stated that it would be good for the retreat program to rotate through academic fields when choosing a keynote speaker, but also that we should schedule someone who is capable of speaking to a broader audience beyond their field.  Rob recalled that the summer retreat has not had an engineering speaker in a while.  Pam stated that she would like to circulate a survey for students to rank their choices, and that there seven people on the list currently.  Vijay stated that he would prefer Council to generate a ranked list at the December meeting.  Pam replied that the summer retreat committee would send out short descriptions for each of the proposed keynote speakers so Council can become familiar with the choices before making a decision.  Cliff next asked about an idea Gloria proposed for an additional speaker.  Anna replied that he is a friend and colleague and a 4th year MSTP student.  Gloria introduced Sandeep Kishore as a Cornell MSTP student and an inspiring speaker on global health topics and that his PhD research focused on malaria evolutionary biology, and that he is currently doing research year at Harvard.  Tyler asked whether he was proposed as a keynote speaker, or as an additional speaker at the summer retreat.  Gloria replied that he could serve in either role.  DaShawn stated that it would be a good idea to start building connections with our peer MSTP students in various ways.  Gloria replied that he is prominent in issues dealing with the role of MSTP and physician scientists and is interested in getting MSTP studentsí science noticed in the field, in research and policy settings.  Meredith was concerned with choosing a student for the keynote.  Vijay felt that Sandeep would be a better fit for a monthly meeting more so than a retreat invited speaker.  Vijay did like the idea of branching out to other MSTP students through various channels, and suggested a listserv among peer institutions.  Joe felt the consensus of Council was not to invite this individual to serve as our keynote at summer retreat.  Rob suggested that we could combine monthly meeting budgets in order to invite him to come as an outside speaker.  Gloria asked if this was merely a budget issue, inviting two outside speakers to summer retreat, and whether we could invite this individual if alternative funding were secured.  DaShawn reiterated that it makes sense to build structured MSTP student relationships with other MSTPs.  Tyler felt that the summer retreat invitation would be a budget strain, but that otherwise we would like to invite him to speak.  Heather suggested that we could combine resources with another interest group, such as global health.  Paul offered that he could be one of many of the summer retreat speakers, like the dinner speaker or a workshop speaker, instead of the keynote.


Winter retreat:

Vijay reported that plans are coming along smoothly, and that he is coordinating with Kathy.  He asked if we are still planning to do a special event with former MSTP director Dr. Leslie Webster for the MSTP 55th anniversary.  Cliff needs to finalize plans.  He recalled that the MSTP missed celebrating the 50th anniversary so it would be nice to do something this year.  He feels that Dr. Webster needs a proper thank you for his years of service.  DaShawn thought a plaque would be a nice gesture.  Meredith asked if DaShawn would be willing to spearhead this gift.  Vijay would like to ask Dr. Webster to give some historical perspective on the program when he was in charge.  Cliff would like the approval of Council so he can make plans and invite Dr. Webster to the retreat.  Council supports inviting Dr. Webster, and suggests that he give a short talk sharing some of his fond memories of the program.


Back to the Wards:

The Back to the Wards dinner, an event for 3rd and 4th year PhD students featuring local program alumni, is being planned.  It will likely be January 13, with December 16 also a possibility.


Interview session:

Vijay reported that womenís group and MSTP Council letters were included in applicantsí packets.  At this visit, the applicants had read the letters so the effort was considered successful.  Cliff responded with his support for the letters, stating that he found them very appropriate and helpful as introductions to important aspects of program that donít otherwise come across.


Council was reminded that any students helping with interviewing dinners must save an itemized receipt from the restaurant that includes credit card information, per University policy.  At this most recent interview session, no major issues came up.  Emily stated that the program needs more participation from students at dinner, especially from women.  Also, more students need to volunteer, especially for large interview groups, to handle carpooling.  Vijay agreed that more participation would be welcome.  Anna wondered if there were ways to get more involvement from PhD phase students.  Marisa also raised the issue of getting parking validation for PhD students who work off campus and are not ordinarily able to come to campus to help with interview sessions.


Monthly meeting:

Heather reported that Jim Edmondson has very tentatively agreed to come on November 17, but has not responded to her most recent emails for confirmation.  Council recommends we get a firm follow-up, in person if possible.  Gloria or Kathy will handle the dinner order since this monthly meeting is combined with an applicant visit.


Contacting accepted students:

Vijay raised the issue that contacting admitted students has been discussed much before without resolution.  He asked whether Council should formalize this process.  Most first year students in attendance had not received a phone call from a current MSTP student last year, and they were not in favor of the phone call approach, preferring an email from a current student.  DaShawn felt that email is more convenient, and likely easier for the current student as well.  Tyler replied that he would prefer that we not have a boilerplate email go out, but instead develop more personal contacts.  Emily volunteered that the communications committee could develop a Google doc including names of all accepted students, so that current students could get contact information and indicate when they have communicated with an admitted student by phone or email.  Zach felt that a volunteer system may not be successful, and so felt that the communications committee should assign applicants to students, for example pairing applicants with their student host.  Meredith felt that the students should decide how best to get in touch with their applicants, and Emily agreed stating that an overnight host may have developed more interaction with the applicant.



Community Service:

Anna reported that she talked to Alex, who is concerned that MSTP students have not been volunteering for activities.  There is an upcoming volunteer day, November 12, in coordination with the School of Medicine first year class.  DaShawn felt that students might be more eager to volunteer for medically oriented activities.  Vijay replied that MSTP has done non-medical activities with success, such as Habitat for Humanity or Case for Community day activities.  Council was reminded to contact Alex to volunteer for the upcoming November 12 community service day.  Alex should send another reminder email about this event.


Social committee:

Gloria reported that 30 people have signed up for the brewery tour, November 15 at 6 p.m.  A Google doc is forthcoming to assign drivers.  She also asked people to reply on the Google doc whether they wanted to have dinner, and if so, before or after the tour.  Rob suggested that people take the RTA, since it is convenient at both ends of the trip.  Gloria also reported that the holiday party is happening on December 14.  The official start time is 5:30, but that people can plan to arrive around 6.  As before, the holiday party will have a bake-off contest, white elephant, and the 12 days of MSTP song to celebrate the season.


Womenís group:

Marisa reported that Dr. Skalweit updated the website and added information about herself.  She also wrote the letter for the applicant packets, with help from Sarah Drawz.  The next meeting will be November 30, and meetings will be bimonthly after that.


Representative to GSS:

Andrea stated that the GSS is formulating professional development workshop ideas, which include grant writing, networking, and alternative career paths for PhDs.  Some of these workshops may be of interest to MSTPs, and she will keep Council posted.


Representative to CME:

Joe reported that the CME received responses to a feedback survey to residency directors regarding Case alumni in their programs.  The vast majority of comments were positive, with only a couple negative comments pertaining to patient interaction skills.


Intro to MSTP:

Jeff stated that the M1s recently enjoyed Cleveland restaurant week.


Communications committee:

Anna asked about the status of the website?  Emily responded that she and Zach would meet soon to talk about the website.  Zach also replied that the communications committee would appreciate it if people have time to go through the website and point out areas that are out of date or require updating.


Representative to Faculty Council:

Zach reported that recently, a comprehensive report regarding liquidation of certain departments has gone to the Deanís office, and that the faculty council will take up this issue at the following meeting.  He will have a report next time.


Other business:

Nick from BGSS came by to ask for MSTP representation planning this yearís upcoming symposium on May 9.  Contact  Cliff encouraged MSTP student participation in both BGSS (PhD student) and Lepow Day (MD student) research symposia.



Next MSTP Council meeting: Tuesday December 13, 5:45 p.m.


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