Skip to Main Content


April 29, 2020

To the YSM Community:

“Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote the droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote ... .” So wrote Geoffrey Chaucer in the prologue to The Canterbury Tales nearly 700 years ago. Spring has amazed and comforted us since the beginning of humankind. Yet, somehow the sight of daffodils and trees in bud has never seemed more startling and welcome than this year, as we experience the first downturn in the number of COVID-19 cases and anticipate our emergence from this long winter.

It has been a difficult road and much work still lies ahead, but now it is time to prepare for the return. This past week President Salovey and Provost Strobel shared the work of six COVID-19 contingency planning committees tasked with making recommendations on how we escalate the activities of the University in preparation for its reopening. Many YSM faculty are serving on the Research in the Natural Sciences and Engineering Subcommittee to advise on how we resume laboratory operations. A group of clinical leaders from both the school and the health system have convened to consider how we will restart outpatient medicine and elective procedures, as well as clinical research. We anticipate that we will adopt innovative practices developed during this COVID-19 pandemic in ways that will forever change how we practice medicine. Our colleagues in medical education are planning intensively to reintroduce clerkship students on the wards after a brief period of online didactic preparation, and to welcome the Class of 2024 and all our classes to campus.

Through early spring, we have not been dormant, however. In my message dated March 20, Beyond COVID, I shared some of the ways we have been continuing our efforts to realize our vision for the future of YSM. These include reorganizing the Office of Academic and Professional Development; vetting a standardized process for addressing faculty behavior; revising our search processes for senior leaders to make searches more inclusive and to select for value-based leadership qualities; creating a task force on physician-scientist development; appointing Professor Anthony Koleske as deputy dean for scientific affairs (basic science departments); launching the search for the chair of Neuroscience under the leadership of David Schatz; and asking the Program for Art in Public Spaces to create a physical environment that conveys our commitment to inclusivity. More recently, we have revised our policies on endowed professorships to make them more equitable and transparent.

These activities have maintained our forward momentum, even as we have been focused on the pandemic. Now as we emerge from the winter of COVID-19, our return offers a time for regeneration. Over the next few years we will engage in strategic planning around each of our core missions. I propose that we prepare for this by first considering the school’s mission statement, which we can do as a community even while meeting by Zoom.

The mission statement of Yale School of Medicine was last reviewed in 2004 and reads: As a preeminent academic medical center that supports the highest quality education, research, and patient care, the Yale School of Medicine will:

  • Educate and inspire scholars and future leaders who will advance the practice of medicine and the biomedical sciences,
  • Advance medical knowledge to sustain and improve health and to alleviate suffering caused by illness and disease, and
  • Provide outstanding care and service for patients in a compassionate and respectful manner.

We will shortly be distributing a survey to the community to collect input on the current mission statement. We will then host a series of online focus groups, including faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community members to review this feedback. Based upon these focus groups, we will charge a writing group with redrafting the mission statement. We will then invite public comment on this draft and incorporate this input into the final statement. In this way, we will join together in renewing ourselves as we prepare for the return.


Nancy J. Brown, MD
Jean and David W. Wallace Dean of Medicine
C.N.H. Long Professor of Internal Medicine