Vol. 12 No. 5 - December, 2009

A message from Tom Manning

Looking forward on the occasion of Commonwealth Medicine's tenth anniversary

manning, tom
Robert Carlin Photography
Thomas D. Manning, MA, CAGS, Deputy Chancellor

The origins of Commonwealth Medicine are no different than the origins of many organizations created to meet a particular need: it arose less out of a grand vision than out of a recognition that UMass Medical School had both the knowledge and the capacity to support the delivery of services to underserved populations. But looking back, it is clear that there has been a consistency to what we’ve done that has helped make us what we are today—and more importantly, shows where we are headed.

What have we done? We’ve consistently shown we have the ability to react to the needs of our constituencies—our customers. We’ve consistently demonstrated we can design and implement programs, leverage academic resources and—perhaps above all—consistently remained flexible enough as an organization to reinvent ourselves by creating solutions to problems that present themselves to the commonwealth, to UMass Medical School, to health care providers and to health care consumers. In this consistency, we’ve remained true to our history and our heritage.

Our ability to create and transfer knowledge

to help meet the persistent needs of changing communities is our most important achievement.

It’s tempting to focus on our programmatic and economic success, but that’s only part of the story. The rest of the story—the real story—is our commitment to the educational part of our enterprise, and our maturation into an analytical enterprise. For every program and service we’ve created, we’ve also created an academic and research enterprise that is leading us, literally, into the future. Programs like the Graduate Entry Pathway in the UMass Graduate School of Nursing, and Massachusetts Area Health Education Center, both of which were products of early support by Commonwealth Medicine—not only help meet particular needs, but lay the foundation for our work in other areas. Who would have thought a decade ago that the Commonwealth Medicine academic expertise would be helping solve important health problems in Haiti, for example? Members of the Commonwealth Medicine organization are leading the way in health policy, health care reform, best practices in service delivery and workforce development in ways and places that would have been impossible to anticipate ten years ago.

So in this sense—this ability to consistently invent, and reinvent, our mission—our ability to create and transfer knowledge to help meet the persistent needs of changing communities is our most important achievement. While I would never minimize the economic impact of our organization, which is both substantial and crucial to the commonwealth and the Medical School, as we look forward, it’s important not to minimize the assets that make us unique: a consistently flexible organization unafraid to adapt and unafraid to challenge that future. I am as excited about our future as I have ever been.