March 6, 2013
Over the past few years, I’ve spent substantial time talking about how WesternU’s gaze is always cast forward, as we strive to see where the next set of opportunities lies, and where our institution can be most effective and of most service in the evolving worlds of health sciences education and patient care.
But looking backward has its place, as well. Seeing where we’ve been can inform our dreams and goals, and re-energize us with the power of a job well done. Such a look back seems entirely appropriate today, as I expand on yesterday’s brief message to campus about the 30th anniversary of Mr. Warren Lawless’ chairmanship of the WesternU Board of Trustees.
As I mentioned yesterday, Warren’s move into the chairmanship came at a crucial time for what was then only the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. Our inaugural class, which enrolled in COMP in 1978, had graduated just 10 months earlier, and while each ensuing class had gotten a bit larger, and COMP’s reputation was beginning to grow, we had much work to do to make the college what we knew it could become.
Warren’s great gifts to us then, as now, were the ability to take a long view about the future of the institution; an abiding faith in the quality of the people teaching and working here; and most especially, an unwavering belief in the students, in the type of physicians he knew they would become as the result of their time here, and what their work out in the world would mean for the future of our institution.
What roads we have traveled, riding on the shoulders of that faith and belief. What was a single-college campus with a few hundred students when he became chairman is now a thriving educational enterprise with nine colleges on two campuses, more than 3,600 students, 1,000 employees, and a limitless future in health education, patient care, research and professional collaboration.
This did not happen by accident. It did not happen quickly or without substantial planning. Warren is a businessman, and his thoughtful yet pragmatic approach to how COMP, and eventually WesternU, could become successful helped forge a management operations template that is followed to this day. But he also is a visionary and enthusiast; the practical requirements of building a college, and then a university, have never impeded his desire to see whatever lies “on the other side of the mountain.”
This combination of skills, this variety of visions and perspectives, has been of invaluable aid to everyone who has worked and learned at our university, whether they know it or not. I look back today on all that has been accomplished these past 30 years, and celebrate one of the people without whom WesternU would not be possible: Warren Lawless. He – like WesternU itself – is living proof that it is possible to be bold yet practical, audacious yet wise.
As always, I welcome your feedback on this topic and any others as we discuss WesternU’s Benchmarks of Value, and our plans. Please e-mail me with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org, and feel free to share this message with your family and friends.
My best to you all,