On Sept. 24, Ron Mourad, Albion College provost, announced via email Bradley Rabquer’s decision to transition out of his administrative position as director of the Lisa and James Wilson Institute for Medicine. Rabquer will remain in the position until late Dec. 2021 and will move back into a full-time faculty role during the beginning of the spring 2022 semester.
According to Rabquer, because the personal goals set for the position were met throughout the last five years he served as director of the Wilson Institute, it was time to transition back into teaching again.
“I think we did a pretty good job of getting some solid foundation built, which gave me the confidence to say ‘I am going to transition back into teaching,’” said Rabquer.
Hiring more staff was a major priority for Rabquer.
“I think it was three years ago today that we announced the Wilson Endowment,” says Rabquer. “It allowed us to check off some of the things we wanted to do with students and for students.”
The Lisa and James Wilson Endowment began as a $5.1 million gift from Lisa, ’79, and James Wilson,‘77, in 2018. According to Rabquer, the endowment allowed the institute to hire more staff members that would help students access experiential learning opportunities in the medical field and support students facing personal and professional challenges during their time at Albion College.
At the same time, the Wilson Institute used these funds to help cover the cost of practice materials for standardized tests such as the MCAT or the GRE needed for graduate health professions programs.
“One of the major barriers for students to get into medical school or dental school or other health professional programs is standardized testing,” said Rabquer. “There is good data that shows that if students that can afford to take these thousand-dollar, multi-faceted test preps; they get into these programs. We need folks of all types going to medical school. It levels the playing field.”
Under Rabquer’s leadership, the Wilson Institute was also able to create an 8-year path to medical school in partnership with the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, a nursing partnership with Oakland University and a public health concentration.
However, Rabquer’s favorite memories and experiences within the Wilson Institute are centered around the successes of students.
“What I picture in my mind is emails from students about programs they thought they wouldn’t get into,” said Rabquer. “The Wilson Institute is a perfect representation of diversity as we look to make a change in disparities in the medical field. We wanted to build that family support aspect.”
Students and faculty at the Wilson Institute have expressed gratitude and joy that Rabquer will be able to teach once again.
Alyx Everitt, St. Louis, Mich. senior, is a member of the Wilson Institute. Everitt is happy Rabquer will be able to teach again.
“I’m happy for him,” said Everitt. “I think he will enjoy teaching a lot. The Wilson Institute will miss him.”
Maggie Godfrey, assistant director of the Wilson Institute, is grateful for Rabquer’s leadership but understands Rabquer’s passion for teaching.
“He’s really an amazing professor,” said Godfrey. “I’m excited for this opportunity for him to do what he loves, which is teaching students. His role at the Wilson Institute had him take a step back from it.”
In light of Rabquer’s departure from the Wilson Institute, students in the institute should not expect to see any changes during the spring 2022 semester other than in faculty roles. According to Mourad, the new director of the Wilson Institute will not take over the role until the fall of 2022.
“When you lose a really strong leader, that affects the organization,” said Mourad.
“However, Brad has left a strong legacy behind to have excellent programming for Wilson Institute students in the spring.”
Dr. Ashley Woodson, dean of the School of Public Purpose and Professional Development, is currently in the process of forming a search committee for the next Wilson Institute director. Current students, faculty and community members in greater Albion will also be selected to join the committee.
“Search committees are a lot of work,” said Woodson. “But we will have a robust and well-informed search committee. If folks are interested, I hope they reach out. I do hope and encourage that students read the emails and come to be a part of selecting a new member of the community.”
According to Woodson and Mourad, the search for a new director will be at the national level. However, current faculty members will also be considered for the role.
Rabquer expressed an interest in having a current faculty member from Albion College take over the role.
“I was a tenured member and I believe that it should remain as such in order to have more academic freedom and to express concerns,” said Rabquer. “My preference is that an internal candidate rises to the top of the search.”
In the meantime, Godfrey will fill in as the interim director during the spring 2022 semester. Robyn Laditka and Lauri Maurer, health profession advisors for the Wilson Institute, will continue to work with students and assist Godfrey.
“I trust that the program is in fantastic hands with the staff we have,” said Rabquer. “I am lucky that I am not leaving the college. I view myself as being involved with those students still, just in a slightly different capacity.”