Virginia Tech's newest dean starts on the job at School of Medicine

Published: Jul. 1, 2019 at 6:31 PM EDT
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Virginia Tech Carilion has a brand new dean for its School of Medicine. Dr. Lee Learman was chosen after a nationwide search to take over for the school's founding dean. His appointment won't just be important for his students, but for the Roanoke Valley as well.

Learman was appointed back in January, but he is now officially on the job. In a sit-down interview with WDBJ7, Learman said he wants VTC to be not just one of the best new medical schools, but one of the best medical schools period.

There is work in progress outside of Virginia Tech Carilion School of medicine and inside. Learman hasn't even had a chance to get unpacked in his new office, but is ready for the job. He comes from Florida Atlantic University where he served as senior associate dean for academic affairs and the senior associate dean for graduate medical education

Prior to FAU, Learman was at Indiana University, where he served as the Clarence E. Ehrlich Professor and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology from 2008 to 2015.

"Looking at the final stages of my career coming up, I envisioned how to make the largest impact for the future of health care through education and that's what attracted me to looking for a dean position," he said.

Dr. Learman specializes in obstetrics and gynecology and has been in academic medicine for 25 years. He said he plans to build upon the school's already strong foundation. But to make it one of the best medical schools in the country, Learman said he doesn't just want these students to be good doctors. He wants to start teaching them about the health care industry as a whole from day one.

"The key to changing health care is to empower each physician to become more involved in leadership and transformation," he said.

Outside one of his office windows is the ongoing construction to the VTC expansion. It's a reminder to Learman to Learman to make sure the school's infrastructure can keep up with their ambition to do research and hire highly trained faculty.

"These are all important things to keep in mind to make sure that we're not getting ahead of our skills a little bit, to make sure that we're growing in a way that we're prepared for," he said. "You can never do that perfectly, but the better we plan for it and create the infrastructure in advance the more successful we're gonna be.”

Outside of his other window he can clearly see Roanoke's railroad.

It's another reminder that he'll have to be in constant communication with the city to maintain a good relationship.

"And we need to be thoughtful of those by engaging our community and business leaders as we move forward,," he said.

The thing that Dr. Learman says will set VTC apart from other medical schools is not just being research intensive, but by remaining relatively small so they can know all of their students and mentor them well.

When he's not outside of work Learman says he and his wife enjoy the outdoors, community service and the arts.