MUSC board receives operating reports as fiscal year-end nears, celebrates 191st commencement ceremony

CHARLESTON, S.C. (May 14, 2021) – The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Medical University Hospital Authority (MUHA) Board of Trustees recently held their regularly scheduled combined committee sessions and board meeting. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many attended the meeting from remote locations via video. Those physically in the MUSC boardroom observed appropriate safety protocols, as needed. The board meeting was held the day before the MUSC spring commencement events.

On Saturday, May 15, in two ceremonies, the MUSC board will bestow health care degrees on 741 graduates from its six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The ceremonies will be held at the North Charleston Coliseum with safety for all participants as the top priority. All events will be conducted in accordance with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for social distancing and mask usage. 

MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, will preside over the commencement events, welcoming the graduates, families and guests with a huge congratulations. His remarks will note that “The presence of each graduate is a testament to incredible tenacity and durability during all things COVID-19.”

During Friday’s meeting, the board was also provided with an update on the MUSC Health ongoing vaccination efforts.   

“Our health care teams continue to engage in a variety of outreach efforts to combat vaccine hesitancy and to take vaccinations into community settings across the state,” Cole explained. “For the vast majority of those who get their shots, vaccines have been proved safe and effective. The vaccines work to prevent infection from this dangerous virus and minimize the symptoms exhibited if you are vaccinated before contracting the virus.”

Cole posited, “If you could do something to prevent needless suffering, hospitalization and possibly death, why wouldn’t you? That’s what the vaccines represent. Getting vaccinated is a tangible step everyone should take to protect themselves, their families and our community.” 

“With access to highly effective and safe vaccines for COVID-19, the state has seen significant reductions in the number of infections” said Michael D. Sweat, Ph.D., leader of the MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project, who is closely tracking the leading indicators of the COVID-19 pandemic. “However, there are a substantial number of people who lack immunity, and for us to fully return to normal, it is important to continue to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

Sweat observed, “All our cases are now being concentrated in the shrinking population of those without immunity. MUSC’s Molecular Pathology Laboratory has also been analyzing all of the positive COVID-19 tests that MUSC conducts, and their new results show that about 90% of new cases are now from variants of concern, mostly the British variant that is 50-70% more transmissible. “We are likely to see a reduction in mask use and social distancing with increased vaccination and lower case rates, and this coupled with the emergence of the British variant puts those people who are not vaccinated at very high risk,” Sweat concluded. 

Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., CEO, MUSC Health, provided an update on the policy expecting all MUSC Health care team members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The policy was implemented to ensure the highest level of safety for all care team members, patients and visitors. Phase 1 rollout of the plan included new care team members and leaders across MUSC Health. These groups were 100% compliant with the policy. Phase 2, which includes all other care team members, is set to be completed on June 15. Cawley reported that as of this week, 74% of those in Phase 2 had received their first dose of the vaccine.      

Three members of the Charleston County School District (CCSD), the Rev. Eric Mack, chairman of the CCSD Board of Trustees, Geritta Postlewait, Ed.D., superintendent of schools, and Ellen Nitz, R.N., director of Nursing Services, joined the meeting as guests. They presented MUSC Board of Trustees Chairman James Lemon, D.M.D., with a certificate of recognition and thanks for MUSC’s “meritorious and tireless efforts in the immunization of Charleston County School District teachers and staff.” 

“Beginning back in March 2020 and throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic, the Medical University has worked tirelessly to support Charleston County School District’s efforts to provide a safe learning environment for its entirety of 50,000 students and 6,500 staff,” Mack said. “Throughout MUSC’s Back2Business Program and the district’s Safe Start planning, MUSC partnership better enabled the district to serve the needs of each student in this unprecedented time, most recently, serving as a major provider of COVID-19 vaccinations to eligible students and staff. We thank you for your tremendous efforts and relentless commitment to supporting the health and safety of students and staff in the Charleston County School District now and always.”  

The CCSD leaders also provided Cole with an Excellence Award lapel pin in honor of his exemplary efforts to support the CCSD. 

“MUSC gave us the tools and the resources and the backing for our parents to have faith in us and bring the kids back safely,” Nitz said. “You helped us design our protocols so that parents would feel safer. You gave us the tools to help test. When vaccines became available, you were able to partner with us on that. We worked …with community members making sure that we’re getting all the best information out there. So, from the bottom of my heart, from our students, our staff, all the school nurses out there, thank you because you guys really make it possible. Without your backing, we would not have been able to succeed.”    

With the fiscal year drawing to a close at the end of June, Kate Azizi, vice president for Institutional Advancement, reported that funds raised year-to-date through philanthropy totaled more than $42.2 million. Azizi advised the trustees that major projects underway for which additional philanthropic funding is critical include the new MUSC Health hospital planned for the Williamsburg-Lake City community, the new facilities being constructed in the heart of the Charleston campus to house the Araneo and Craft College of Pharmacy, support of the MUSC Health Living Donor Program for major organ transplants and transplant research.

Lisa K. Saladin, PT, Ph.D., executive vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, began her report by thanking Kathleen Brady, M.D., Ph.D., for her seven years of service as vice president of Research at MUSC. Brady is an internationally recognized psychiatrist with a research focus in the area of addictions and has been a faculty member at MUSC since 1988. She began her interim role leading research in 2014, accepting the role permanently in 2016 after a national search.

“While Dr. Brady contributes to all three missions of the university, she is most well known for her contributions to science through research,” Saladin said. “Dr. Brady has been the top NIH research funded investigator on the MUSC campus for 12 consecutive years. She also was in the top 10 NIH-funded investigators in Departments of Psychiatry across the country for the past 12 years – and for four of those years, she was the top-funded faculty in any Department of Psychiatry in the U.S.” 

In other business, the 16-member MUSC/MUHA board also voted to approve the following items:

  • Renovation of 1,860 square feet on the second floor of the MUSC Health West Ashley Medical Pavilion to create a new dental clinic. The stand-alone dental clinic will be licensed and fully equipped to perform sedated oral surgery procedures.    
  • Renovations to approximately 1,400 square feet of existing office and lab space in the Clinical Sciences Building. The updated space will include a negative pressure lab to meet biosafety requirements and permit the South Carolina Clinical & Translational Research Institute to conduct COVID-19-related study visits and collect samples from infectious patients, as well as handle and process infectious diseases samples more safely.    
  • Lease renewals for two parking lots at 165 Cannon Street and at Hagood and Line streets. The lots are used by MUSC employees and students.  

The MUSC/MUHA Board of Trustees serves as separate bodies to govern the university and hospital, normally holding two days of committee and board meetings six times a year. For more information about the MUSC Board of Trustees, visit this page.


About The Medical University of South Carolina

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the oldest medical school in the South as well as the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. MUSC brought in more than $271 million in biomedical research funds in fiscal year 2020, continuing to lead the state in obtaining National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $129.9 million. For information on academic programs, visit

As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality patient care available, while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan, and nearly 325 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2020, for the sixth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit

MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $3.2 billion. The more than 17,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.