Dr. Edward J. Van Liere, the first dean of the West Virginia University School of Medicine, was a leader whose vision for health profession education in West Virginia was as fresh as tomorrow’s news.  Author Warren G. Bennis said, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Through his tireless efforts and collaboration with faculty and physicians across the state, Dr. Van Liere set the stage for a comprehensive Health Sciences Center for the State of West Virginia in the 21st century.

Those who remember him as a teacher say he was always focused on his students.  In his book, Medical and Other Essays, Dr. Van Liere paid tribute to his students with these words, “It is a pleasure to acknowledge the deep debt of gratitude I owe these splendid young men and women...my students have aided me greatly in keeping young in spirit.  I salute them all.”  Dr. David Z. Morgan, a student of Dr. Van Liere in the late 1940's, said, “Most students had not had much contact with the physicians until we went to medical school and then Dr. Van Liere was really the physician we had most contact with.  He was a physician whom most of us aspired to be; he was kind and gentle, a Harvard graduate, very literate and articulate, and well respected by the local and state medical community.”

Dr. Van Liere was a dedicated scientist and physician as well.  Today the Health Sciences Center builds on the foundation of learning and caring that he championed.  Our dedicated faculty and staff work together to improve the health of West Virginians.  Our Rural Health Education Program and the Health Sciences Technology Academy have helped to recruit more physicians and other healthcare providers to work in rural, under-served communities.  These programs, along with the innovative applications for technology-assisted learning, are internationally recognized and have kept WVU at the cutting edge among its peers.

Our research is highly competitive and has become an important economic development factor in the region.  Dean Van Liere realized the critical importance of research in improving the human condition, and as an integral component of medical education.  Today, research and teaching flourish at WVU.

From the early days of Dean Van Liere, through the years of building, growing and learning, we have been fortunate to have tremendous leadership among our staff, faculty, chairs and deans: sound, exceptional, forward-thinking leadership.  And it is that kind of vision, leadership and commitment to serving our communities which will sustain and bring us to even greater heights.

 

Robert D’Alessandri
Dean
School of Medicine, 1989-2004