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Gingrich helps christen Dimensions for health professions

  Campus Digest  

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich signs his book for Cornell senior Jessica Rundlett.

Cornell's new program to prepare students for careers as health professionals earned an endorsement from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

“I believe it is going to be a forerunner of what medical schools will evolve toward,” Gingrich told a King Chapel audience in May. “This is the first genuinely integrated approach to drawing together the human being and the science and technology of health into one unit.”

Dimensions: The Center for the Science and Culture of Healthcare combines a foundation in the natural sciences with an uncommon infusion of highrelevance course work in the humanities and social sciences, meaningful integration of experiential learning, and professional sculpting that includes MCAT preparation—resulting in graduates who areready to learn to heal patients, not merely treat their disorders.

The former Georgia congressman and founder of the Center for Health Transformation wrote Saving Lives & Saving Money, which describes his vision of a 21st-century system of health and health care that is prevention-focused, knowledge intense, innovation rich, and centered on the individual. Armed with statistics—such as every seventh dollar in the U.S. economy is spent on health—Gingrich stressed the need for a 21st-century intelligent health system, featuring online health records but also a personal touch.

“Getting a person to learn they have to change their behavior is not science and technology, it is the human side of your Dimensions program,” he said.

The program was proposed by Larry Dorr ’63, a world leader in joint replacement surgery. Biology professor Barbara Christie-Pope is director of Dimensions. Bobbi Buckner Bentz ’01 is coordinator of the Dimensions Resource Center.

Sharing the King Chapel stage with trustee and orthopedic surgeon Larry Dorr '63 (left), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich answers questions following his lecture.




Cornell senior Kent Lehr and Jamie Wallace '05 assist Larry Dorr '63 (right) in a hip replacement surgery during Operation Walk in El Salvador in March 2005.

Students learn abroad with Operation Walk

Even before the program’s official debut, Dimensions’ intentional learning component was in full swing. In March, Larry Dorr ’63 took Jamie Wallace ’05 and senior Kent Lehr on a mission trip to El Salvador where Dorr’s Operation Walk team of physicians performed knee and hip replacements on 36 people over nearly four days at a hospital in the village of Sonsonati.

The two students met with patients before surgery, assisted in operations—putting in sutures and, for Lehr, administering a spinal injection—and helped during post-op by changing dressings and lending a hand during physical therapy.

“It gave me an idea of what medicine is like,” said Wallace, who earned a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, with a minor in anthropology. She is enrolled in medical school at the University of Iowa.

Lehr, son of West Des Moines anesthesiologist Stuart Lehr ’71, returned to campus imagining a career in orthopedics. “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor. On Operation Walk, doctors didn’t worry about politics or the business of medicine. They just got to do it,” he said. He is majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology and economics and business.

One patient told Wallace that “next to God, he was most thankful for us.”

Seniors Phil Bilderback and Lisa Fettkether were headed to China with Operation Walk at press time.

Thefacebook fanatics

The newest campus craze arrived in the spring when Cornell joined, an online directory that connects students nationwide. Once a college or university is added to the database, anyone with a valid school e-mail address can sign up, post a profile and photos, and collect “friends” from the hundreds of colleges and universities participating. “Thefacebook has become more than just a pastime at Cornell; for some students it has become a full fledged addiction,” wrote Cornellian entertainment editor Paul Eley.


Brandi Logan Shanata '05 and Jai Pattur Shanata '05

New place to wed

Move over, Allee Chapel. There’s a new place to get hitched on the Hilltop. Brandi Logan Shanata ’05 and Jai Pattur Shanata ’05 held the first wedding ceremony May 25 on the Hilltop Terrace, the lawn between King Chapel and Bowman-Carter Hall featuring flowering trees, daffodils, and limestone terraces. A reception at Brackett House followed.

The couple met as first-year students—he came from Castle Rock, Colo., she from Poplar Grove, Ill.—just days after classes started. Like so many alums who have wed in Allee, they wanted to share their milestone with campus friends. “We really wanted our wedding to be with the people who had been with us as we grew as a couple,” Brandi said. Their chosen last name, Shanata, is the Hindi word for peaceful.

She is pursuing a PhD in statistics at UCLA. He is pursuing a PhD in chemistry at California Institute of


The first wedding on the Hilltop Terrace west of King Chapel united Brandi Logan Shanata '05 and Jai Pattur Shanata '05.


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