“Study the past if you would divine the future.” -- Confucius
Many months ago in this blog, plans for the CMSRU Time Capsule were revealed. Beginning back in the spring of 2011, the project began to unfold. We wanted to capture a bit of the past – the events and the people that, four decades ago, initiated the concept of a medical school in southern New Jersey. Building from this, we looked to the present and more recent events, starting with the Executive Order in 2009 that launched our school. And, finally, projections of the future – the future of CMSRU and of Camden.
A Time Capsule Committee was established last year consisting of members of the Charter Class, staff and faculty, all of whom saw this literally as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – a chance to entomb for 50 years the artifacts and memorabilia that will be part of our legacy. (See here for more details of the Time Capsule Event).
The committee appropriately titled the Time Capsule interment ceremony “Past, Present & Future”. They carefully selected items that captured the journey – photos, documents, newspapers and mementos that told the story, our story, of CMSRU. A number of letters from our team were entombed; letters written to loved ones who will hopefully read and reflect in 2063 on the thoughts, wishes, hopes and goals of the authors.
Those of us at CMSRU view our school as the place where we have the opportunity to create something new and different – not a carbon copy of the other medical schools in this country, not a “me too” institution. And we strive to be different, not to just be different; not innovative just for the sake of “innovation”. But “different” because the present and the future demand it. Our mission, vision and core values are woven through all that we do: our admissions process, our curriculum, the selection of our faculty, and very importantly, our community. We are mission-focused. We are mission-driven.
Our goal is to pay it forward, to keep the promise that we and those before us made. We pledge to educate a new type of physician – one who will be recognized as a ”CMSRU Physician,” not merely because of competency, but because of the type of person they are – driven to service, committed to humanistic care, and determined to be the kind of physician who each of us would want to care for our families.
As has been often written in this blog, the City of Camden – our classroom, our home – is always on our mind. A community with a celebrated past, a challenged present and a hopeful future. In “The Lion King”, the king’s Grand Vizier, Rafiki, says, “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the from way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it.” How we are ultimately judged as a medical school should in large measure be based on what happens to this city. Let us help it return to its past glory, let us pledge to make this a city that is prosperous, safe, healthy and well-educated. A city about which the poet Walt Whitman wrote – “I dreamed in a dream, I saw a city invincible”. A city that is recognized for its re-ascent to glory.
The day of the Time Capsule interment, the speakers spoke of the elements that were heralded in the title, “Past, Present & Future” – How did we get here? What and who are we now? Where will we go? While difficult to put all of these journeys – bygone and yet to be – into words, the mementos that were placed in the capsule will help tell the story.
But our hope is that those artifacts will be treasured by those who open the capsule in 2063 – and we hope that many members of the Charter Class will be among those present at the opening. With good health and good luck, most should be able to re-assemble to open the small reliquary and remember the day in 2013 when these reminders of the past were enshrined.
Let us hope that the course that has been set is true.
Paul Katz, MD
Cooper Medical School of Rowan University