Message from the Dean ad interim, Jeffrey L. Susman, MD

June 14, 2023

The UTMB John Sealy School of Medicine celebrated its 133rd MD commencement on Saturday, June 3, 2023. More than 220 graduates crossed the stage, including four who received concurrent PhD and MD degrees.

Congratulations to these new physicians, and their families and friends! As graduates of UTMB, they begin their careers with the knowledge, skills, fortitude, and strength of character required to serve the public, to mentor others, to pursue lifelong learning – and most importantly, provide compassionate care to their patients.

Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr., CEO and Managing Director of Vesalius Ventures, and a veteran NASA astronaut, provided wisdom and inspiration to the graduates in his keynote speech. We were very honored to have him as our commencement speaker.

Thank you to President ad interim Dr. Charles Mouton, who presided over the Commencement Ceremony and conferred the degrees.

I also would like to thank these UTMB leaders for their participation:

  • Dr. Deborah Jones, Provost ad interim and Senior Vice President and Dean of the School of Nursing
  • Dr. Majka Woods, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs
  • Dr. Linda Phillips, Professor, Department of Surgery
  • Chaplain Jennifer Schindler

Thanks to our chairs, faculty members and staff who attended commencement and participated in this memorable occasion. I am also grateful for the efforts of those in Academic Affairs; Academic Resources, Classroom and Tech Services; Alumni Relations; the Book Store; Enrollment Services; UTMB Police Department; JSSOM Student Affairs; and the Office of the Provost, who work tirelessly each year to make this event a success.

The ceremony included welcome remarks by Dr.  Jack Henry, President of the UTMB John Sealy School of Medicine Alumni Association.

It was a pleasure to recognize the 2023 School of Medicine Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus (ASDA) Award recipients. We are honored to have physicians of this stature in our UTMB family:

  • Dr. Michael Cohen, ‘68
  • Dr. Philip Leggett, ‘80
  • Dr. Mark Lerman, ‘73
  • Dr. Bobby Limmer, ‘68
  • Dr. Gregory O’Shanick, ‘77
  • Dr. Shilpen Patel, ‘01

The following individuals received special honors:

  • David Bayless received the William N. and Ida Zinn Alpha Omega Alpha Award. The award is given to the graduating student in the School of Medicine with the highest cumulative GPA at the end of four years.
  • Austen Herron was selected for the Gold-Headed Cane Award, the highest honor awarded to a graduating medical student. The recipient was chosen by his classmates as the student who best exemplified the ultimate in patient care. The award was presented by Class Vice President, Brian Beasley. 
  • Thomas Yetter was selected by his classmates to deliver the class address.
  • Dr. Jong Lee, Professor, Department of Surgery, was selected by the graduates to receive the James W. Powers Memorial Award, which honors a teacher of clinical subjects who has contributed in an eminent way to the creation of physicians capable of practicing both the art and the science of medicine.

Each year, the graduating class elects faculty members to conduct the hooding ceremony along with a faculty member to deliver the Physician’s Oath. These honors are the highest that a class can bestow.

Faculty elected to conduct the hooding ceremony were:

  • Dr. Ruth Bush, Associate Dean, Educational Affairs
  • Dr. Amy Gonzalez, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics
  • Dr. Ruth Levine, Associate Dean, Student Affairs and Admissions
  • Dr. Norma Perez Raifaisen, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
  • Dr. Cristiana Rastellini, Professor of Instruction, Department of Neurobiology
  • Dr. Chandler Self, Assistant Dean, Academic Support and Career Counseling

Dr. Bernard Karnath, Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, was the Senior Faculty Marshal, leading the procession of faculty, and Dr. Michael Boyars, Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, administered the Physician’s Oath.

Overseeing the line-up process were our two Chief Faculty Marshals:

  • Dr. Judith Aronson, Professor, Departments of Pathology and Microbiology and Immunology
  • Dr. Gayle Olson, Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Faculty Marshals included:

  • Dr. Richard Coggeshall, Professor, Department of Neurobiology
  • Dr. Miles Farr, Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine
  • Dr. Susan Gerik, Professor, Department of Pediatrics
  • Dr. Sagar Kamprath, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine
  • Dr. Anita Mercado, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine
  • Dr. Joseph Ray, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics
  • Dr. Karen Szauter, Professor, Department of Internal Medicine
  • Dr. Douglas Tyler, Professor and Chair, Department of Surgery

This year marked the 22nd annual Military Commissioning Ceremony. Dr. Victor Jackson, Associate Medical Director for TDCJ Hospital and Quality Director for Hospital Galveston and Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, provided remarks, administered the oath of office to the graduating medical officers and introduced the incoming officers. These members of the Class of 2023 were commissioned officers:

  • Dr. Anaas Hassan was commissioned as a Captain for the United States Air Force
  • Dr. John Kim was commissioned as Captain for the United States Army
  • Dr. Madison Rattan was commissioned as Lieutenant for the United States Navy
  • Dr. Dakota Rodgers was commissioned as Captain for the United States Army

Commencement activities concluded with a reception for the graduates and their families and friends. I want to thank everyone who contributed and participated. Congratulations to all!

Future Commencement Activity Dates:

  • June 1, 2024

Commencement Video Information