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Medical students question sudden switch of associate dean

Medical students question sudden...

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Some University of Missouri students question why the medical school switched a prominent leader in the faculty.

ABC 17 News obtained an email from Dr. Patrick Delafontaine, dean of the medical school, telling students that Dr. Rachel Brown would be "transitioning" to a professor of clinical psychiatry from her spot as associate dean of student programs.

The email, dated October 28, said Dr. Laine Young-Walker, head of the child psychiatry division, would take over on November 1.

Several students told ABC 17 News they're puzzled by the sudden move. Many spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from faculty. Dr. Brown, who dealt primarily with students' classroom performance and helped guide them in preparing for various tests, was beloved by many students, and some believe she was fired from the spot. A "town hall" meeting is scheduled Wednesday for students and faculty to talk about the move.

Delafontaine's October email listed Dr. Brown's accomplishments in her role as associate dean. Applications for medical school doubled since she took over in 2006, coming from Mercer College in Macon, Ga. She also "led new initiatives in student services focused on student wellness, individual achievement and residency selection." Students selected her for an advocacy award in three of the ten years as associate dean, most recently in 2016.

MU Health and medical school spokeswoman Mary Jenkins did not return ABC 17 News' request for comment Tuesday.

The school is in the midst of coming into compliance with the federal Liason Committee for Medical Education, which accredits medical schools. The group gave MU two years to correct the four categories, including diversity management, student mistreatment, curricular management and affiliation agreements. Delafontaine told ABC 17 News in September that the school was aware of the issues before the LCME report, and was already working to correct them.

Dr. Young-Walker, an MU graduate, leads the child psychiatry division. She worked as associate medical director for the state Department of Mental Health, and led the MU Health Diversity Advisory Council.

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