Parting Words From Dean/CEO Edward D. Miller, M.D.
Edward D. Miller
Date: June 15, 2012
During my more than 15 years as dean/CEO, not a day has gone by when I didn’t think about Hopkins—from the time that I got up in the morning until the time I went to bed at night.
Mainly, I think about all of you, the people of Johns Hopkins Medicine. After all of this time, I’m still amazed and intrigued by the huge depth and breadth of knowledge, and the level of commitment here. I would dare say that there is no equal.
Recently, for example, I had dinner with Bob Montgomery, and we talked about the impressive strides that the Transplant Center is making with incompatible-donor organ transplants. I also spoke with Bill Nelson about the incredible things that they’re finding out about cancer. It’s not just all of the great things that they’re accomplishing; it’s that they are so excited and passionate about them. There are so many examples of that zest here, and it makes me feel good about Hopkins.
Of course, it’s not only our faculty members who are making a difference. For instance, not long ago, I was at a biomedical engineering program at the Armstrong Building listening to young kids, undergraduates working with graduates and physicians from the medical campus on projects to solve medical problems. I couldn’t help but be blown away by their talent and intellect. They had this group who had designed a paper strip that could tell whether there was HIV in stored blood—very cheap, but very effective. This simple, practical product could have huge implications for health care, especially in third world countries, where contaminated blood is a big issue.
Clearly, our faculty, staff and students should be proud of our institution. People want to work at a place that makes them feel their time is valuable, and I think we’ve created that kind of environment at Hopkins. I’ve certainly tried to help do so in my own time here.
As you know, I love talking with so many of you, not just about your achievements but what you’re working on day to day. I’ve enjoyed getting to know about your lives and your families. You have, at every turn, directed that warmth and respect back to me, and I trust that you know how much I care about this institution. I’m sure that you know, in fact, that I believe all of you are the institution.
I remember a story some years ago where there was a woman in the hospital cafeteria crying because she had received a bad diagnosis. One of the kitchen staff members came over and sat down with her, comforted her and gave the disconsolate woman her religious cross. That’s what this place is about. That’s why I came here.
I see a lot of people in a day—a lot of different people. I’m going to greatly miss those daily interactions. That will be the most difficult part of leaving this place.
I could name so many people and what they’ve meant to me—people who in ways large and small contributed to the success of the institution. However, I do have to single out one person in particular, because he and I took leadership positions at a time when the medical school and health system were at odds with each other and the future of the new organization, Johns Hopkins Medicine, was uncertain.
When Ron Peterson became president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System and I was appointed as the new dean/CEO, it was critical that we work together, that we always be on the same page to repair the damage that had occurred before our appointments. We had to move Johns Hopkins Medicine forward.
Fifteen years later, I can look back and say that Ron and I have had an incredible relationship. We have different strengths and weaknesses, but we complemented each other so well. We can almost finish each other’s sentences because we think so much alike. We might take different approaches, but we’re always on the same page.
In making the organizational structure work, that’s made a huge difference between where we started and where Johns Hopkins Medicine is today. Although I’m departing, I want people to understand and feel secure that Mr. Peterson is as staunch a supporter of the academic mission as I am. And I’m equally certain that Mr. Peterson will work just as successfully with Dr. Paul Rothman, the next dean/CEO, to move the institution forward.
Now it’s on to a new chapter of my life. So, I say goodbye and ask that you to stay strong to the mission. Thanks for the privilege of working with all of you and knowing many of you. I’m both humbled and incredibly privileged to have been at Hopkins and to have been its leader. Who would have thought it possible that a kid who grew up in a tiny house at 63 Elmguard outside of Rochester would go on to become head of Johns Hopkins Medicine? That’s just out of sight.