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The Catalyst

Inauguration of MUSC President David J. Cole

By Mikie Hayes
Public Relations

At the reception following the inauguration, guests Rebecca and Dan Miklancic, good friends of the Coles, share a light moment during the festivities. photo by Sarah Pack, Public Relations

After having assumed the office of president on July 1, inauguration day for MUSC’s seventh president, David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, had finally arrived, and Oct. 9 was a picture perfect day: Cool breezes, mild temperatures and a clear blue sky provided a welcoming Lowcountry backdrop for the day’s events.

An air of anticipation could be felt around campus as venues quickly filled up with family, friends, guests, and members of the MUSC family.  Shortly after 2 p.m., the ceremony began and speakers congratulated Cole and bid him good luck as he formally accepted the “noble task of leading MUSC,” as the Rev. Gary L.R. Bullard, senior pastor of Cole’s church, Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church, phrased it during the invocation he delivered.

President David Cole, center, is joined by former MUSC presidents Dr. James B. Edwards, left, and Dr. Ray Greenberg. photos by Anne Thompson, Digital Imaging

When Donald Johnson, M.D., chairman of the board of trustees, asked Cole’s two immediate predecessors, James B. Edwards, D.M.D., and Ray Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D., to stand and be recognized, Edwards stood and waved his mortarboard around in the air like a lasso, eliciting a hearty laugh from Cole and the audience and a big bear hug from Greenberg. Their camaraderie set a celebratory tone for Cole’s message of commitment, hope and triumph.

Tom Smith, Ph.D., president of the MUSC faculty senate, expressed the faculty’s support of Cole and how pleased they are to have a “leader of such incredible stature.” Rowena Sobczyk, M.D., president of the joint alumni board, said, “The alumni take great pride in MUSC’s accomplishments and know they will continue under Dr. Cole’s leadership.”

Regina Brown, vice president of programs for the Student Government Association, spoke on behalf of MUSC’s students and detailed a day she spent in the operating room with Cole. She explained how he engaged everyone in the room in the process of the surgery and ensured each person present was an integral part of the team. “In his O.R.,” she said, “he was a teacher, mentor, leader, and president.”

Fred Crawford, Jr., M.D., Distinguished University Professor of Surgery, introduced the new president and spoke of their 20–year relationship. Credited with recruiting Cole from the NIH to MUSC, Crawford took an opportunity to brag about his friend and shared with the audience that few realized Cole had received 14 consecutive years of NIH funding. He admitted that he was obviously biased when it came to talking about Cole’s accomplishments.

Cole’s wife, Kathy, placed the official MUSC medallion around his neck, representing the mantle of leadership that would now rest squarely on Cole’s shoulders. The two shared a tender moment, as the first lady wiped away the lipstick left from the brief kiss they exchanged.

First lady Kathy Cole places the MUSC Presidential Medallion around her husband’s neck.

The new president was welcomed enthusiastically by the audience. From the podium, he shared his pride, reflections and hopes for the future.

“Patients first” was the clear directive Cole delivered to the audience. “So, what is that true north? That common purpose? Our vision?” he asked. “To put our patients first — now and in the future. First in clinical care, first in research, first in education.”

Cole’s speech was one of vision, as he touched upon the road ahead; inclusion, as he reiterated his commitment to diversity; and promise, as he reminded everyone that MUSC could achieve preeminence by working together as a team and putting patients first.  

He shared a favorite poem, Drop a Pebble in the Water, by James Foley, that spoke to the extraordinary difference even the smallest positive act could produce. “As the leader of a university that is blessed with talented and hardworking individuals at all levels, I saw an opportunity to lead a team that together could make increasingly larger ripples in the pond,” he said.

In addition to funny anecdotes from his childhood, Cole shared an emotional side as he recalled a moving story about serendipitously running into a former patient on an elevator, whose life he had saved years before. The young man was on campus to introduce his fiancé to the team who gave them “their future.”

Dr. and Mrs. Cole join their children, Andy, from left, Paige and Brian, before the ceremony.

Cole also recognized his family and shared how special and important they are to him.“You have all shaped and loved me and provided unquestioning support and guidance as a family,” he told them. “To my wife of 26 years, Kathy, my soul mate and partner; my sons, Andy and Bryan; and my daughter, Paige. Know that I love you all dearly. You, along with my faith in God, are the source of my strength and inspiration.”   

Following the inauguration, a reception was held on the grounds of the green space adjacent to the Urban Garden. Well–wishers stood in line to congratulate the Coles and guests seemed to enjoy the plentiful spread, beautiful weather and festive atmosphere.

December 11, 2014

 

 
 
 

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