Five years ago, when David A. Kessler, M.D., was appointed the School of Medicine’s 15th dean, the focus was on the future. In making the announcement in a packed Harkness Auditorium on February 13, 1997, Yale President Richard C. Levin spoke of the things Kessler was likely to accomplish as dean and the support he had from the central administration. “I think this is the right man at the right time for taking the school forward.”

On May 7, Kessler was reappointed to a second five-year term, and the focus was on the dean’s track record since 1997.

In a message to the medical school community, Levin praised Kessler for making “a succession of outstanding appointments to positions of departmental leadership” and for planning and initiating the construction of the new Congress Avenue Building. He also cited Kessler for establishing the new Clinical Program Development Fund in partnership with Yale-New Haven Hospital and for overseeing significant improvements in medical education.

Kessler, a graduate of Amherst College, Harvard Medical School and the University of Chicago School of Law, was commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration from 1990 to 1997 under former Presidents Bush and Clinton. He served as medical director of the Hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine from 1984 to 1990 after training in pediatrics at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and working on Capitol Hill.

Kessler said he “couldn’t be more thrilled to remain at Yale and continue to work hard on advancing the school’s three missions” of patient care, research and education.

“What I knew before coming here was that Yale is a world leader in medicine and science,” he said. “What I’ve come to appreciate even more since then is just how special the medical school is, and how packed it is with academic talent and clinical expertise. We have a very bright future ahead of us.”

Under Kessler’s deanship, new chairs have been appointed in the departments of Cell Biology, Cellular and Molecular Physiology, the Child Study Center, Genetics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pharmacology and Surgery. He also recruited Herbert Chase, M.D., as the school’s deputy dean for education and negotiated an affiliation agreement with Yale New Haven Health System that established a fund to develop cutting-edge clinical programs with Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Construction of the Congress Avenue Building, a 457,000-square-foot teaching and research facility, began in early 2000 and is nearing completion; more than 700 faculty and staff will begin moving in this coming winter to conduct disease-oriented research in eight key areas; to teach anatomy, histology and other medical school courses; and to support teaching and research activities.