January 19, 2011

President Skorton Appointed to Association of American Medical Colleges Board of Directors

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The Association of American Medical Colleges in December appointed President David Skorton to its governing Board of Directors, where he will serve as an at-large member of the board until November 2012.

In conjunction with the American Medical Association, AAMC sponsors the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, which offers accreditation for all medical degree-granting schools in the United States and Canada. It also administers the Medical College Admission Test, which prospective students take in order to gain admission to medical school.

“It’s an honor for me to be involved with this organization because I’ve been an academic physician for my whole academic career … and I’ve worked in the [veterans affairs medical] system for 10 years,” Skorton said. “My role is to participate in the policy level decisions of the organization … since I’ve been on the board, we have already decided to be supportive of the health care reform legislation that was passed last year.”

According to Jennifer Schlener, chief of staff for AAMC, Skorton was recruited by the board’s Governance Nominating and Leadership Development committee, which actively seeks out new board members when existing members’ terms expire.

“Our governance committee was very focused on trying to identify someone not only could bring some health care expertise, but also a broader higher ed expertise,” Schlener said. “Certainly, Dr. Skorton is unique in being an M.D. and a leader of one of our most prestigious higher ed institutions.”

The president’s involvement with the research community and his advocacy for improving access to higher education are also important factors in AAMC’s decision, Schlener said. The organization lobbies for 150 medical schools, nearly 400 major teaching hospital and health systems, and nearly 90 academic and scientific societies.

“The entire portfolio of experience he will bring is an incredible asset because the AAMC is engaged in the advocacy of the legislative process here in Washington,” Schlener said. She cited Skorton’s name recognition, physician background and involvement in research as important reasons that he was appointed to the board.

In a recent blog post addressed to the 112th United States Congress on The Huffington Post, Skorton reiterated these points and wrote, “Universities not only [make] the majority of basic discoveries but also [fill] the pipeline of talent that feeds corporate research and the development of new products, processes, and services.”

Skorton’s role as a highly-visible advocate for better access to higher education is one of the reasons he was appointed to the AAMC board, according Schlener.

“I take advocacy positions for a variety of reasons: sometimes it’s in the best interest of the University … sometimes I take a position because I’ve been convinced of its importance by the students at Cornell … [sometimes] it serves a nationwide need,” Skorton said in an interview with The Sun.

“If I have any sort of profile, it’s not because of me,” Skorton said. “It’s because I’m associated with the University.”

Original Author: Andrew Hu