Marie-Denise Gervais, M.D., Named Assistant Dean for Admissions and Diversity

Marie-Denise Gervais, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine and community health, has been named the Miller School’s first Assistant Dean for Admissions and Diversity. The new position takes effect June 1.

Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education and associate professor of medicine, made the announcement.

“Dr. Gervais is highly qualified for this position,” he said. “She is a longstanding member of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, and an active member of the School’s Admissions Committee. In addition, she directs the Family Medicine clerkship and continues to see patients. She is passionate about and dedicated to everything she does, and she will be a great addition to the medical education team.”

Gervais’ role will be two-fold, explained Mechaber. “First, she will help us select the best candidates from the growing volume of applicants. This year we had nearly 8,000 applications — the largest number in the history of the School — for 200 spots. Second, she will help us in our outreach programs to attract and nurture more underrepresented minorities.”

Richard S. Weisman, Pharm.D., Associate Dean for Admissions and professor of pediatrics, says both roles are critical for the School. “Dr. Gervais is an extremely capable person, and she brings the experience that we need,” he said. “The dramatic rise in applicants in the past three or four years makes it very important to have her assistance in selecting the best candidates.

“We also need her assistance with our diversity outreach programs, because there is a shortage of minority candidates applying to medical schools across the country,” Weisman said. “We bring interested minority college students to the medical campus each summer to study and prepare for the Medical College Admission Test, and additional programs on the Coral Gables campus encourage minority college students to consider medicine. Our high school program involves visits to local classrooms, where we give talks and demonstrations to try to provoke student interest even before they start college.”

Gervais described herself as “ecstatic. It’s a wonderful and very demanding opportunity,” she said. “I have already been performing some of these duties under the radar. For example, at the beginning of each year, I invite minority students to my home so they can see that there are other people here who look like them.”

Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. “Dr. Gervais brings to this role unbridled enthusiasm for her students and a high degree of caring for her students as people,” said Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., professor and Executive Dean for Education and Policy.

“Admissions and diversity obviously go hand in hand, but we need to continue to nurture minority students after they arrive,” Gervais said. “Medical school is difficult enough without feeling like you’re a little on the sidelines. My two-part challenge will be to help the School attract a more diverse applicant population, and then to help retain those who are accepted.”

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