Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Supreme Kind of Achievement Diana Ross' Sister Heads a Medical School

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Supreme Kind of Achievement Diana Ross' Sister Heads a Medical School

Article excerpt

DIANA ROSS' big sister hit No. 1 on the charts this month.

Not the record charts. The medical charts.

When Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee started work as the dean of the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, she became the first black woman in the nation to head a medical school - either osteopathic, which awards the D.O. degree, or allopathic, which awards the M.D.

And - to paraphrase a medley of Little Sis' hit songs - while that first hectic week on the job may have turned Ross-Lee upside down and kept her hangin' on, there ain't no mountain high enough to keep her from coming back for more.

After she was named to the post in the spring, Ross-Lee joked, she told Ross "she'd better be cautious - they're gonna be starting to say, `By the way, (Diana is) Barbara Ross-Lee's sister."

Ross-Lee, 51, comes to the Athens school from Michigan State University in East Lansing, where she was an associate dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and a professor of family medicine.

Among the deans of the 16 osteopathic and 125 allopathic medical schools nationwide, there are four minority males, three white females and one minority female.

Ross-Lee succeeds Frank W. Myers, who returns to teaching after being dean since the college's founding 16 years ago. The school's mission is to produce primary-care physicians, such as family practitioners, to serve rural, poor southeastern Ohio.

"There's a critical need for providers in this area," Ross-Lee said in a telephone interview.

She said the Michigan school, situated where Michigan's lower peninsula changes from mostly urban in the south to mostly rural in the north, serves a similar area. "The population needs (in southeastern Ohio) are essentially the same," she said. "Poverty is the same everywhere, you know."

The OU college co-exists in Ohio with six M.D.-granting institutions, including the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine in Portage County. And while Ross-Lee sees "a need for us to all be present here to supply the number of primary-care physicians that are going to be needed within the next few years," one of her goals is to make her school more visible around the state.

"It impresses me that whenever statistics come out talking about the contributions of the medical schools in the state, they conveniently forget that OUCOM is down here, and our production is still excellent and certainly surpasses any of the goals of the other medical institutions in the state," she said. …

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