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Welcome Interview with Interim Senior Associate Dean, Dr. José Franco

Jose Franco, MDDr. Jose Franco assumed the role of Interim Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs on May 14. Recently, we sat down with him to ask what challenges and opportunities he sees in his new role.

What interested you about the Interim Senior Associate Dean position?

As an MCW graduate himself, Dr. Franco feels taking on this role is a way of giving back to our institution for everything it has given him. Throughout his career, he has witnessed numerous examples of the good things MCW does and felt privileged to work with the people that contribute to our institution’s success. He wanted to play a role in advancing that, building on our strengths and ensuring Academic Affairs continues to serve our students and faculty.

What skills and strengths do you feel you bring to this position?

Dr. Franco feels that his experience in teaching students and serving as a course and clerkship director offers an important perspective to his new role. He also has experience in directing the STAR Center and faculty development programs. He hopes this allows him to see all components of what it takes to be successful in course and program administration.

Dr. Franco also understands the structure at MCW, having served as Chair of the Curriculum and Evaluation Committee and director of the Discovery Curriculum. He feels these past roles have prepared him well for the Interim Senior Associate Dean position.

How would you describe your leadership style?

While Dr. Franco clearly has expertise in many areas, he is quick to point out there are areas in which he has much to learn. However, there are many individuals and groups at MCW who have the expertise he lacks, and he looks forward to working with those teams to learn and grow.

He describes his leadership style as “What do you need to succeed in your role?” He believes if you surround yourself with good people and give them the tools and resources they need to succeed, they will do so. His job is to make sure everyone has what they need to accomplish their jobs at the highest level possible.

Dr. Franco works to be collaborative and develop relationships built on mutual respect and dignity. He recognizes that everyone may not always get along but believes that everyone deserves to be treated with respect. He works every day to develop positive relationships.

What goals do you have for your time in this role?

Dr. Franco has three main goals for his time as Interim Senior Associate Dean:

  1. Get our students and faculty back to more normalcy following the pandemic.
  2. Guide our faculty through the process of curriculum reform.
  3. Maintain full LCME accreditation for our medical school.

The last year and a half have been extremely challenging. While we have been able to adapt and continue educating our students, Dr. Franco admits the situation has not been optimal due to circumstances beyond our control. He looks forward to bringing students back to campus and engage them with one another. He feels the importance of that has not been discussed enough – the personal relationships, support networks, and the value of interacting in person. He believes we lost that when we went to more remote teaching and learning, and he looks forward to working to overcome those challenges.

Dr. Franco reminds us that no one person oversees the curriculum; it is a collective product of our faculty. We need to find a way to operationalize a new curriculum that our faculty feel is optimal for our students. We need a curriculum and a medical school program that prepares our students to not only succeed at MCW but in the next phase of their careers. He reminds us we are taking college graduates and have 3-5 years to prepare them to be functioning physicians and physician scientists.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge you face in this role?

Stagnation is something that concerns Dr. Franco. He says when you have success in certain areas it is easy to say we are doing everything right and should leave well enough alone. He worries that if you take that approach, you miss the opportunity to continuously improve. The biggest challenge is fighting the urge to rest on your laurels. He urges everyone to think outside of the box, to figure out how to continuously improve for the benefit of our students. He truly believes if you allow people to be creative, they will come up with new and exciting things. His biggest concern is that people will start looking at their position as simply a job rather than a vocation where they are always being creative and trying to imagine what can be rather than what is.

What are you most excited about as you take on this new role?

Dr. Franco is excited to find himself in a position where he can have an impact on all the above. He looks forward to working more with faculty development and innovations in the STAR Center. Having increased authority and responsibility allows his decisions to have a greater impact on where we can accomplish things together as a department.

What message do you have for the MCW community?

Dr. Franco feels very fortunate to be in this position. He is the first to acknowledge that his success will be based on the success of others. Academic Affairs is here to support everyone: students, faculty, and staff. We support the entire educational community at MCW. He wants to recognize the great things we do and the people we have in this department and help others realize we are here to serve their needs. Simply put, we are here to make sure our colleagues succeed. We are behind the scenes – our victories come through the success of others.

Welcome, Dr. Franco! We are excited to continue working with you to make MCW great.