On October 23, 2023, Dr. Kola Okuyemi announced that he is leaving his role as Chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine here at the University of Utah to take on a new leadership role at Indiana University.
Dr. Okuyemi will remain as Chair through January 31, 2024, after which he will assume the position of Chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Associate Dean for Health Equity Research and Implementation at Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis.
Below are the comments given during the DFPM Town Hall meeting by DFPM Chair Dr. Kola Okuyemi on October 23, 2023:
Before I begin, I’d like to greet all the members of the DFPM community who are here today: faculty, staff, learners, and all of you who make this department such an incredible success. I’m grateful to be associated with this community, which creates such positive change locally and globally.
I’ve called this Town Hall today to announce that I will be leaving my role as Chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine here at the University of Utah to take on a new leadership role at Indiana University. I will remain as Chair through January 31, 2024, after which I will assume the position of Chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Associate Dean for Health Equity Research and Implementation at Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis.
The decision to accept this position was not made lightly, and I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and share my reflections with all of you. Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most dedicated and talented individuals within our department and across the University of Utah academic community. Together, we have achieved significant milestones that have shaped the direction of our department and the broader fields of family and preventive medicine.
During my tenure, we embarked on a journey that centered around a bold and unifying vision – "Expanding the Possibilities of Health." We focused on promoting wellness, advancing research, enhancing education, and improving clinical care, all while striving for equity, diversity, and inclusion. This vision has been the guiding force behind our accomplishments and endeavors.
With this focus to guide us, we have done many impactful things. We attained a #2 ranking nationally in NIH funding, increased our research revenues from $7 million to $21 million, and grew our clinical revenue by 50%. We established the Utah Center for Promotion of Work Equity Research (U-POWER)–a new National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Center of Excellence in Total Worker Health (TWH)®. We also developed interdisciplinary education programs among and between our divisions including joint Master of Physician Assistant Studies/Master of Public Health (MPAS/MPH) and MPAS/Master of Science in Nursing Gerontology (MPAS/MS). We developed training experiences within women’s health in rural settings, provided our PAs with primary care training for substance abuse and mental health, and provided our family medicine residents with the option of an integrated fellowship year in research through the Utah StARR program.
Through a generous donation from Don and Kathy Pederson, the department established an Endowed Chair within the Physician Assistant Studies Division. This is one of the first in the nation. We also established the Utah Health Equity and Leadership (UHELM), a year-long cohort program that provides mentoring and leadership development opportunities to junior faculty members and postdoctoral scholars from underrepresented populations in the health sciences or involved in health equity research and practice.
Equity, Diversity, and inclusion have been at the forefront of our efforts. Establishing the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and appointing the inaugural Vice Chair for Equity and Inclusive Excellence was a pivotal moment. I am proud of the progress we have made in creating a more inclusive environment. We also established the Global Health Committee to maximize the impact of the significant global efforts by our faculty as well as the Wellness Committee, designed to raise the profile of physical and mental wellbeing for the whole department. Our commitment to these principles will continue to be a driving force within our department.
As I embark on this new chapter at Indiana University, I carry with me the invaluable experiences and lessons I have learned here. I am truly grateful and honored for the opportunity to have served as the department Chair. I am excited about the future, and I look forward to applying the knowledge and experiences gained here in my new position at Indiana University.
I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to all of you who have been a part of our incredible journey together. Your dedication, support, and commitment have been instrumental in our collective success. I will always cherish the memories and the remarkable progress we have achieved together.
It has been an honor to serve as your Chair, and I am confident that our paths will cross again in our shared pursuit of improving healthcare, advancing research, and nurturing the leaders of tomorrow. Again, thank you for your support and the ways that you continue to build the vision we have had of expanding the possibilities of health.