Dr. Alex J. Mechaber Awarded the Dr. Bernard J. Fogel Chair in Medical Education

Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., professor of medicine and Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, has been awarded the Dr. Bernard J. Fogel Chair in Medical Education for his 18 years of outstanding service to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Mechaber is the second holder of the chair, named for the highly respected former Dean who served from 1981 to 1995. The first recipient was Mark O’Connell, M.D., the former Senior Associate Dean for Educational Development, who was awarded the chair in 2007 and retired in 2015.

“I was both surprised and humbled when I was notified that I would be receiving the Fogel Chair,” said Mechaber, who graduated from the Miller School in 1994. “Bernie was my dean when I was in medical school, so to hold the chair named for him is especially meaningful to me.”

Fogel, in fact, sent Mechaber a letter that said, in part, “Congratulations on being the successor and second recipient. I could not be more pleased.”

“Alex is one of the driving forces in our continued advancement in the medical school rankings,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Dean of the Miller School. “His commitment to innovation and dedication to our students are exceptional, thus transforming the careers of our graduates, which has a huge impact on our reputation as a leader in medical education.”

“During his 18 years at the University of Miami, Alex has made remarkable contributions to medical education,” said Steven M. Altschuler, M.D., Senior Vice President for Health Affairs and CEO of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System. “This appointment demonstrates our confidence in him as an institutional leader.”

“We like to joke that Alex bleeds orange and green,” said Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., Miller Professor and Executive Dean for Education and Policy, “because he also received his undergraduate degree at UM. He is as loyal and connected a person to UM as is possible, and his contributions to our medical curriculum have been invaluable. Moreover, his interpersonal skills and his sincerity in valuing all of his relationships make him very similar personally to Bernie Fogel. Because of that, I think this appointment is especially moving and appropriate.”

After receiving his medical degree from the Miller School, Mechaber left to complete his residency in primary care internal medicine at The George Washington University Medical Center, where he also served as chief medical resident. He returned to the Miller School in 1998 as assistant professor of medicine and was promoted to associate professor in 2005. He became Assistant Dean for Medical Curriculum in 2007, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education in 2008, was promoted to his current administrative position in 2010 and became professor of medicine in 2015.

Mechaber’s administrative responsibilities include vision, oversight, budgeting and accreditation for all undergraduate medical education programs and their respective offices.

He also serves as interim Director of the Educational Development Office and Academy of Medical Educators, which assist faculty with enhancing and developing curricula and improving teaching skills.

Two of the contributions of which Mechaber is especially proud are the Miller School’s Academic Societies, which emphasize cooperation in the learning process, foster leadership and provide a collegial environment for mentoring students, and the ’Cane Academy, a blended learning initiative that replaces traditional classroom sessions with short videos accompanied by learning objectives, self-assessment questions and supplemental content.

Mechaber is married to another double ’Cane — Hilit F. Mechaber, M.D., associate professor of medicine and Associate Dean for Student Services. The two Miami natives met as Miller School students and married in 1996. They have two daughters, Gabrielle, 16, and Amanda, 13.

Although Mechaber became the Fogel Chair holder in April, a formal installation ceremony will take place in September. Details will be announced at a later date.

The Fogel Chair was made possible by a bequest from Jack E. Sanders, M.D. ’57, a member of the school’s second graduating class, who passed away in 2004. His will specified that his gift be used to establish a chair in Fogel’s name. After receiving the gift, the school determined that the chair would be used to support medical education.

Sanders came to the University of Miami from the small town of Graceville in Florida’s Panhandle region. Born with craniofacial deformities and associated hearing loss, he had been turned away by other medical schools that feared his appearance might reduce his effectiveness as a physician.

Instead, Sanders returned home from Miami and began a highly successful 46-year career during which he delivered 1,500 babies and was instrumental in founding Campbellton-Graceville Hospital. His bequest was an expression of gratitude to UM for focusing on his potential.

“That was one of the reasons Jack opted to give us an endowed chair,” Fogel said. “The other was Jack’s faith in the Miller School’s leadership.”

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