Dewayne Andrews, longtime dean of the OU College of Medicine, on Friday took on the additional roles of provost and senior vice president of the OU Health Sciences Center, succeeding Joe Ferretti in the former.
Andrews, who is a graduate of the school, joined its faculty in 1977, made professor in 1988 and, after holding various leadership positions across campus — from vice chair of the department of medicine to chief of staff of then University Hospital — has served as executive dean and vice president for health affairs since 2002. He briefly left OU for the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in the early '80s but was recruited back after three years.
“I'm very organized, and people think I'm good at making things happen,” said Andrews, who gets to the office before 7 a.m. and typically stays through 6:30 p.m. The dual dean-and-provost role is not uncommon, he said. About half of his peers nationwide are provost equivalents.
An internist, Andrews gave up his private practice only five years ago after demands of the dean's office grew. However, he's still an active and award-winning teacher of clinical ethics and other subjects.
Andrew isn't talking about his goals as provost until he can discuss them with his leadership team. “I don't set goals unilaterally,” he said. Much of his job, he said, will be delegating to his strong staff.
Andrews, 67, sat down with The Oklahoman to talk about his life. This is an edited transcript:
Q: Can you tell us about your childhood?
A: I grew up in Oklahoma City and graduated from Northwest Classen High School. My father originally was an independent grocery man but later managed Rothschild's men's clothing stores. My mother was vice president of Local Federal Savings & Loan. I was an only child, but I had lots of cousins I saw on the weekends. I played some baseball, but basically I was a nerd, a good student. In high school, I got interested in journalism (he's a longtime editor of the Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association) and politics, campaigning door-to-door for JFK.
Q: Did you always want to be a doctor?
A: Since I was 8. I cut the tendon of the ring finger on my left hand in an accident with an electric band saw and had revolutionary surgery at St. Anthony to correct it. Though I was scared, I was absolutely fascinated. When it came time for college, I chose Baylor because it was a good pre-med school and not so far away that I couldn't drive back home for a weekend. I worked as a lab assistant in biology and comparative anatomy, and my last year in med school at OU, I became further enamored with not only practicing medicine, but also teaching it. In helping my fellow med students understand epidemiology and biostatistics, it was clear I had a knack for teaching. And I was inspired by my, now late, heroes: Robert Bird, Rainey Williams and Stewart Wolf of OU and Philip Tumulty with Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
Q: Johns Hopkins?
A: I did my postdoctoral training in internal medicine there and at OU. I was in the Air Force ROTC in college, and when I graduated med school, they still had the doctor draft of two years obligatory service. I was assigned to the U.S. Public Health Service and, after three months of training at the CDC in Atlanta, was sent originally to a quarantined Christian Science school in Greenwich, Conn. to investigate the first polio outbreak in seven years. We determined a family brought the disease there after being exposed in India, and the 11 paralytic cases involved football players who shared a single ladle to drink from a water barrel during practices. The unaffected students had been secretly vaccinated by their mothers, though devout Christian Scientists don't believe in vaccines.
The school's headmaster chose to deal with only me, because he liked my friendly Midwestern manner. It was considerable pressure. I was interviewed by “Time,” “Newsweek” and CBS Evening News, though the broadcast didn't air because Kissinger that same day announced the end of the Vietnam War.
Q: Is there a common skill vital to being a good physician, award-winning teacher and effective administrator?
A: It's very important to listen. Even if people don't get the answers they hoped for, it's important that you hear them. My department heads would tell you I'm fair, honest, operate with integrity and follow through on commitments. I put them in writing so there's institutional memory.
Q: What's your proudest achievement thus far at the OU HSC?
A: I could point to buildings, people or programs, but it'd have to be helping change the culture of the entity we now call OU Medicine. Now, we're a true medical practice group with a professional, though inclusive and collegial, atmosphere. Thanks in large part to OU President David Boren and our growth in philanthropy, we're recognized as good. Our next step is great. To get there, we need to focus on efficiency, careful management of resources and strategic investments.
• Position: Dean, provost and senior vice president, OU Health Sciences Center
• Birth date: May 24, 1944
• Family: Wife Rebecca Andrews, a native of Maine and employee of the OU surgery department (they were introduced on campus in 1977), and their 4-year-old yellow lab, Baylor.
• Education: Baylor University; University of Oklahoma College of Medicine; and Johns Hopkins Hospital and OU for postdoctoral training.
• Professional affiliations: American Medical Association's accrediting body for U.S. medical schools and formerly, governor of the American College of Physicians' Oklahoma chapter and chair for the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.
• Civic contributions: Board of directors for the United Way of Central Oklahoma and previously, Oklahoma City Philharmonic Foundation's board.
• Pastimes: Photography, piano (he has a Steinway Grand at home) and travel; favorite places include Italy and Maui where he and Becky bought a time share 10 years ago.