News » Aligning to Reflect the University’s Vision

Aligning to Reflect the University’s Vision

As the School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) reaffirms the importance of diversity, inclusion, and clinical partnerships, Jeffrey S. Akman, MD, vice president for health Affairs, Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine, and SMHS dean, is working to align the school’s strategies with GW President Thomas J. LeBlanc’s vision for the university. 

“In this process” Akman said, “the roles of several leaders have expanded to guide our school as we aspire to preeminence.”

Beginning Dec. 1, Yolanda Haywood, MD, RESD ’87; Raymond Lucas, MD; and Walter Harris, MBA, PMP, received new titles to reflect the expansion of their roles and the emphasis the school and the university place on their respective functions.


Four years ago, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion was established by Akman to foster a community distinguished by the depth of its diversity and the value placed on it. Yolanda Haywood, MD, RESD ’87 was tapped to serve as the associate dean for diversity, inclusion, and student affairs. The office has supported efforts to attract and retain talented diverse students, faculty and staff. Recently, SMHS scored above the 90th percentile among peer institutions for recruitment and retention of a high number of black or African American students and female faculty members, according to the Mission Dashboard tracked by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

“Diversity and inclusion inspires excellence. The promotion of Yolanda demonstrates the importance of this work and the efforts that will continue to expand,” said Akman. As a result, Haywood has been tapped to join the SMHS senior leadership team and serves as the Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion. Additionally, she will maintain her role as the Associate Dean of Student Affairs.


Since joining GW this summer, President LeBlanc has frequently spoken about his vision and the importance GW’s medical enterprise plays in the university’s aspiration to preeminence. In recent months, to align with his vision, GW’s Foggy Bottom clinical partners — the GW Hospital and the GW Medical Faculty Associates — have been working in lockstep to expand the clinical footprint in areas such as ambulatory growth, population health, and new partnerships. Key to coordinating this expansion is Raymond Lucas, MD, who joined the SMHS senior leadership team as the Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Health Affairs.

Lucas, who has served as the associate dean for faculty affairs and professional development since 2013, is an advisor to faculty and leaders across the clinical enterprise. Since that appointment, his portfolio has continued to grow with an additional focus on wellness across the medical enterprise, the creation of a research workforce development function, and the development of the SMHS Center for Faculty Excellence.

“As our institution continues on its journey toward preeminence, in concert with our clinical partners, we will provide our faculty with the highest-levels of support,” said Akman. “As we pursue strategic expansion opportunities, Ray’s perspective as a practicing physician, associate dean of the school, and long-time faculty member, will provide unique insights that will inform our discussions.”


Walter Harris, MBA, PMP, joined SMHS in August 2016 as the Senior Associate Dean for Administration and Operations, will now hold the title of Associate Vice President for Administration and Operations to more accurately reflect his role as the SMHS chief operating officer. Harris came to SMHS from the Food and Drug Administration, where he served as the deputy commissioner for operations and chief operating officer, providing strategic and innovative operational services to more than 16,000 FDA staff members, overseeing a budget in excess of $4 billion along with a $450 million IT portfolio. At SMHS, Harris is responsible for operations and administration, including financial planning and accounting, strategic planning, human resources, information technology, facilities, and safety and security. He plays a central role in strategic planning and business development. According to Akman, “Walter has brought a high degree of professionalism and experience to SMHS administration and operations. I look forward to having him continue on my senior leadership team as we pursue our path to preeminence.”