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Three alumni join Board of Trustees
By Hannah Marr, News Editor • June 21, 2024

Medical school dean to step down this year

Jack Fonseca | Hatchet Photographer
Jeffrey Akman, the dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, welcomed graduates to the school’s commencement ceremony Saturday.

The leader of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences will soon leave the role, the University announced Thursday.

Jeffrey Akman, the dean and vice president for health affairs at the medical school, will step down from the position he has held for eight years as soon as a successor is appointed, according to a University release. The search for a replacement will begin “early this year” and once the new dean is installed, Akman will return to work as a faculty member.

“With the successful completion of the school’s strategic plan, the historic restructuring of the GW and MFA relationship and with a new president at the helm, it is the right time to hand the baton to the next leader of SMHS,” Akman said in the release.

Akman, who is an alumnus of GW’s medical school, was selected as dean after two years as the school’s interim leader. During his tenure, Akman launched a strategic plan for the school, helped restructure its partnership with the Medical Faculty Associates and worked to attract more diverse classes.

Akman said in the release he is proud of the endowed professorships, fellowships and scholarships he helped create during his tenure and he is “amazed” with the progress of the medical school.

“It has been the most rewarding journey one could ever imagine and, as a grateful alumnus, I am excited to see our progress continue under the leadership of President LeBlanc and the next dean of SMHS,” he said in the release.

Akman expanded research in his time at GW and opened new research centers, including a kidney research center in 2015 and the Cancer Center in 2016.

During his tenure, Akman aimed to boost the diversity of the school – creating an associate dean position in diversity and inclusion in 2013 and starting programs to attract high school students from various backgrounds – but saw the number of students from underrepresented backgrounds increase, while the percentage of racial minorities flatlined.

The dean also led the school through controversy when GW’s body donor program was shut down after it misidentified human remains and three families sued the University for “gross mismanagement” of the program.

Akman is the fourth dean leading a school to depart since University President Thomas LeBlanc took the helm of GW in 2017.

The University began searching for leaders for the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Science last semester, and GW is still without a leader for the Virginia Science and Technology Campus nearly a year after the former dean left his post.

Akman was one of the highest paid officials at GW and took home more than $1 million in compensation last year.

LeBlanc said Akman set himself apart as a leader and “tireless advocate for students, faculty and alumni” in the more than 40 years he has spent in Foggy Bottom.

“We are grateful for his service and leadership and that his contribution to the University will continue,” LeBlanc said in the release.

Darrell Kirch, the president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, said Akman has contributed to the mission at the medical school and become respected in the field for improving health care conditions for underserved populations.

“His exemplary leadership has been an inspiration for me and so many others in the health professions, and we look forward to his future contributions to improving health care in our nation,” he said in the release.

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