School of Medicine announces new roles in Academic Affairs

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MACON/SAVANNAH/COLUMBUS – Jean Sumner, MD, FACP, dean of Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) recently announced the reorganization of the School’s Department of Academic Affairs. The updates took effect July 1 and will strengthen the medical education administration as the School continues to grow.

Several new faculty positions have been created to help strengthen and ensure comparability in the delivery of curriculum across all campuses. These specialty-based roles will ensure students on all campuses continue to benefit from the same high level of academic standards and curricular structure.

“The academic affairs deans have been outstanding in their leadership and service to the school and our students,” said Dr. Sumner. “As the school grows, it is important to ensure that students continue to receive a superb education. This group of faculty, along with their colleagues, will assure the delivery of a rigorous and comprehensive curriculum.”

Stephanie Beavers, MD, FACP
Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

Dr. Beavers was appointed to the clinical faculty of Mercer University School of Medicine in 2018 and has since served as associate dean of academic affairs for clinical education and associate dean of academic affairs. In her new role as Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Beavers will be the lead academic officer of the medical education program across all campuses. She will collaborate closely with senior associate deans of all campuses and departments to ensure the school is meeting the needs of medical students. Dr. Beavers is based on the Macon campus.

James Knapp, PhD
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Preclinical Curriculum and Assessment

Dr. Knapp joined the Mercer University School of Medicine faculty in 2008. Since that time, he has served as academic affairs liaison, associate dean of academic affairs for preclinical education and senior associate dean for academic affairs. In his new role, Dr. Knapp will oversee the preclinical curriculum, focusing primarily on Year 2, including curriculum development and implementation, curriculum mapping, administration of exams and scheduling of preclinical faculty as PBL tutors. He will be responsible for maintenance of the year 2 academic calendar. Dr. Knapp is based on the Savannah campus.

Gretchen Bentz, PhD
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Preclinical Curriculum and Medical Student Research

Dr. Bentz joined the Mercer University School of Medicine faculty in 2014. She was promoted with tenure to associate professor of biomedical sciences in 2020 and named director of student research in 2021. In her new role, Dr. Bentz will oversee the preclinical curriculum, focusing primarily on Year 1, including curriculum development and implementation, curriculum mapping, administration of exams and scheduling of preclinical faculty as PBL tutors. She will be responsible for maintenance of the academic calendar. Dr. Bentz is based on the Macon Campus.

Lizzie Rhodes, DMD
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Curricular Integration

Dr. Rhodes joined Mercer University School of Medicine as faculty and associate dean of academic affairs in 2021. As associate dean of academic affairs for curricular integration, she will monitor and optimize the longitudinal integration of all curricular components throughout the preclinical and clinical curricula. She is based on the Columbus campus.

Lisa Bauman, MD
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Academic Achievement

Dr. Bauman joined Mercer University School of Medicine in 2020 as professor of pathology and chairman of the pathology and clinical science education department. As associate dean of academic affairs for academic achievement, she will monitor the academic performance of all MD students throughout the preclinical and clinical curricula. She will also direct the provision of academic mentoring by a network of specially-trained faculty advisors further supported by the academic success counseling and peer tutoring programs. Additionally, the associate dean of academic affairs for academic achievement develops and implements USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 preparation programs. Dr. Bauman is based on the Savannah campus.

New Position
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Clinical Curriculum to be named

The associate dean of academic affairs for clinical curriculum will be responsible for all aspects of the clinical curriculum and learning environment including core clerkships and fourth year rotations. Additionally, this newly created position will oversee learning opportunities for visiting students from external institutions.

 “This new structure of the Office of Academic Affairs will provide specialized associate deans who serve across all campuses for improved cross-campus comparability and renewed focus on innovation and integration of the curriculum, particularly its longitudinal components,” said Dr. Beavers. “I am also delighted that we will have the opportunity to build upon our current academic counseling services and offer a robust and comprehensive academic achievement program across all years of the curriculum.”