Western Reserve University School of Medicine Class of 1960

A 50th Class Reunion is Coming

Tony Greco, Mike McCoy, Al Preucil, Jan Berlin, Hod Rowen and Vil Ciemens are excited about the rapidly approaching reunion and invite you to help us celebrate. Why start so early with these plans? Simply stated, we old folks take longer to do things gracefully.

For previous reunions we heard all of the excuses for not attending. Now that most of those are no longer valid, you have no reason not to attend. Apart from seeing the massive changes on campus, wouldn't you like to see your old classmates again? There is so much to tell and share.

Change for the Better

As you may know, the university and the school of medicine have experienced some min(maj)or problems but those are all behind us. We have a new Dean, Pamela Davis and a new University President, Barbara Snyder. Now that women are in charge, the place should be kinder and gentler.

The university was having an identity problem and couldn't decide what to call itself. For a while, Case was the name but now it is again called CWRU. Perhaps we can push for a return to plain WRU. "A rose by any other name..."


Do you remember when we were one of the earliest classes to experience the "new" curriculum? We had no idea of how fortunate we were to be exposed to a new way of learning medicine. Well, they have done it again. We just finished a whole year of another new curriculum. It will take some time to acclimate.

Those of you who are interested in teaching may want to spend time finding out more about the curriculm changes. Modernity has crept in. You should see the lecture halls filled with students carrying WIFI laptops. Microscopes are out - virtual microscopy is in.

August 10, 2008 - A Bright Future

snyderBarbara Snyder has just completed her first full year as president of CWRU and by all accounts has revitalized the university. One of her most commonly repeated refrains is "It's always better to under-promise and over-deliver." Over the past year, both faculty and alumni have found her approach appealing and effective. Faculty and the campus community have been discussing a new strategic plan that focuses on four areas, energy and the environment, human health, culture, creativity and design and social justice and ethics. When she took the job, she inherited a plan that put the university in debt


and alienated alumni. Only months into her job, she announced that the university faced a $20 million deficit. Immediate short-term goals included shoring up the budget, mending relations with various groups and devising a strategic plan.

Alumni Relationsips
Over the year, she tried to mend alumni relationships by speaking at more than 300 events in over 30 cities and she tried to meet each person if only for a few minutes. The “rebranding” of the institution as Case troubled many pre-merger alumni of Western Reserve University. She assured them that she understood their concerns and would correct the matter. The result is obvious by a look at the university’s current website. A new logo has replaced the old one dubbed by critics as "the fat man with a surfboard.” The response to her effort has been loud. Alumni and other gifts to the university totaled $103 million as of June 30, 2008, the third-highest total in the school's history.


Snyder has underscored her commitment to acknowledging CWRU's history. The new strategic plan emphasizes how powerful the institution is because of the merger of Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology in 1967. People who know her best say she is intensely private and exceedingly conscious of her image and has a reputation as enormously energetic, smart, prepared and unfailingly pleasant. According to Hunter Peckham, a biomedical engineering professor who served on the search committee that selected Snyder, she constantly seeks input from others. “It’s never about her; it’s all about the people she serves.”

Recently, William Baeslack was named provost and will assume some of the president’s travel assignments. Everyone hopes that during her second year she will spend more time on campus. We expect that her October 2008 report to the university will paint a brighter economic picture.

Dr. Caughey Remembered
Jack Caughey

Jack Caughey single handedly chose students for his medical school. Few people in the history of the world have demonstrated better taste for excellence. Click his image for a biography.

John L. Caughey, Jr., M.D.
May 30, 1904 - Sep 4, 2001

A New Way to Learn
What was different about the "new" curriculum? Paraphrased, "We can't teach you all you need to know to ply a trade but we can teach you how to teach yourself." We learned that the only prerequisite for learning is a genuine need to know. For that lesson, we are grateful to our teachers and mentors.





In this 1995 photo, Dr. Caughey is flanked by alumnus Alfred G. Gilman, M.D., Ph.D., Class of 1969, and medical school Dean Emeritus and University Professor Emeritus Frederick C. Robbins, M.D. Dr. Gilman, winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, is one of the many distinguished graduates Dr. Caughey had admitted to the medical school. Dr. Robbins was dean from 1966 to 1980, and Dr. Caughey served as the admissions committee prior to and during those years, until he retired in 1974.

Dr. Robbins is also a Nobel Prize winner. In 1954, along with John Enders and Thomas Weller, he shared the prize "for their discovery of the ability of poliomyelitis viruses to grow in cultures of various types of tissue." Read about it here. 1954 was the same year Ernest Hemmingway and Linus Pauling received their awards.

Another prize winner was Dr. Earl W. Sutherland, Jr., Professor of Pharmacology at WRU, 1953-63. In 1971 he received the prize "for his discoveries concerning the mechanisms of the action of hormones." Follow this link for details.

Dr. Ferid Murad, obtained his M.D., Ph.D. degree at CWRU, 1958-65. He received 1/3 of the Nobel Prize in 1998 along with Drs. Robert F. Furchgott and Louis J. Ignarro "for their discoveries concerning nitric oxide as a signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system." Details are here.

Paul Berg, Ph.D., received his degree from WRU in 1952. He received 1/2 of the Nobel Prize in 1980 "for his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant-DNA". Here is the link.

1952 Visionaries New Curriculum

Dr. Caughey, T. Hale Ham, M.D., and Joseph T. Wearn, M.D., were three of the masterminds in the development of the revolutionary curriculum instituted at the medical school in 1952. They each received the Abraham Flexner Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges, the organization’s most prestigious award, which “honors individuals whose impact on medical education is national in scope.”

By the time we entered medical school in 1956, the "new" curriculum was already four years old and we reaped the benefits of a four-year shake down. What a wonderful environment for learning! Don't you remember how many outside observers monitored our classes? We got a lot of attention and surely felt the contrast between the competitive college environment and this new way to learn. Watch a YouTube video recently posted by Greg Simpson.

The Mother Lode of Betterness
When Tony Greco was president of the alumni association, during one reunion he tried to summarize his feelings for the school by telling a personal story about his mother, Filomena. From a small hill town east of Rome, she was sent to a convent in Rome for her education. There, the nuns taught her Dante's Italian and other suitable subjects. Tony said that for over eighteen years of his life he felt that the nuns had stuffed her head full of the entire set of Wisdom Books from the Hebrew Scriptures because she constantly pulled out pithy sayings and aphorisms.

One that especially annoyed him was, "Mettiti sempre con quegli che sono meglio di te." Roughly translated, it says, "Always put yourself in the company of folks who are better than you." He recalled that after his first day at the WRU School of Medicine he knew he had found the mother lode of betterness. Finally, his mother could be happy.




We Want to Hear From You
All the members of this class have been blessed with outstanding intellect and talent. You all have wonderful stories to tell and we need to hear them. Even if you can't return for our 50th reunion, send us a few words. In the e-mail link above, the subject line is already filled in. Also, if you can't return, take a virtual tour using the Directions link above. Google scanned the streets of Cleveland. You can move up and down streets from a ground perspective. Try it out. After Google loads the page, you will see an address balloon. From within the balloon, click Street View.


This illustration of Dr. Caughey’s profile (above) appears at the entrance to the John L. Caughey, M.D., Center for the Integration of Science and Medical Care at the CWRU School of Medicine and serves as a constant reminder of his lasting contributions to medical education. Click the image for comments from students and friends. From our class, William Lasersohn posted a beautiful statement.

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