President’s Column

A Message From Mark L. Tykocinski, MD

Five years ago, we embarked on a noble experiment. It was grounded in the changes we observed taking place in the world and in the workplace, and based in our commitment to make the world around us a better place. It has been an unparalleled triumph.

Since its founding in 1824, Jefferson has consistently made the seemingly impossible possible. In 1825, Jefferson was the first medical college to establish a clinic, combining medical education with patient care; in 1889, department of surgery chair William W. Keen, MD 1862, was the first to successfully remove a brain tumor; and in 1953, surgery chair John Gibbon Jr., MD 1927, invented the heart-lung machine, which was instrumental in the world’s first successful open heart operation.

Five years ago, the University merged with the first textile college in the country, Philadelphia University (formerly Philadelphia Textile School, then Philadelphia Textile Institute, and later Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science). Founded in 1884, the university would go on to boast its own firsts, including being the first to produce a textile for the manufacturing of artificial blood vessels.

By melding these two institutions—one renowned for excellence in healthcare and one known for architecture, design, engineering, business, textiles, and fashion—we created a professions-focused institution of higher learning, bursting with new concepts, novel initiatives, and pioneering programs.

We looked into an academic crystal ball to determine the needs of tomorrow’s global leaders and conceived something unique—a university centered on the future of work.

We started out by crossing disciplines and encouraging outside-the-box thinking. For example, medical and engineering students worked together to invent an intravenous line connector that doesn’t touch contaminated bedding; physical therapy students collaborated with design students to develop a drinking straw for patients with physical challenges; architecture students partnered with textile students to create specialized furniture for neurodiverse patients. We continued by joining with other institutions across the country—and the world—to create expanded opportunities for study and research. We even extended beyond the confines of earth to send research projects into space with our partners in Israel.

This collaborative, transdisciplinary, and interprofessional approach to learning offers a vibrant atmosphere for thought leaders and prepares our students for current and yet-to-be-imagined careers.

We set out to elevate learning, and in doing so we elevated Jefferson’s profile. We are now known on a national and international level for excellence in academics, research, and preparing our students for success. We have skyrocketed in U.S. News & World Report rankings and in enrollment.

We are now an R2 research institution. We are attracting the best and brightest students and faculty. We are not a model of how to successfully merge two institutions, we are the model, and now universities across the country are asking us for our blueprint for success.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe what we have accomplished in just five years. Now we are looking forward to what we will accomplish in the next five years—and beyond—as we continue to create a bigger, bolder, better Jefferson.