Dr. Henri Ford had an easy choice to make when accepting the position as Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine’s new dean – it was his “dream job.”
“I have always said that the only reason I would leave Los Angeles would be to come to Miami,” Ford said.
Ford is a Haitian-born pediatric surgeon who has served as the senior vice president and chief of surgery at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for more than 13 years. He is also the vice dean of medical education and professor and vice chair for clinical affairs in the Department of Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.
Ford obtained his bachelor’s degree in public and international affairs from Princeton University in 1980 and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1984. He also received his master’s degree in health administration from the University of Southern California.
But Ford said he has had longstanding admiration for UM.
Seventeen years ago, his sister was hospitalized in Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center after suffering significant burns. There, Ford observed the physicians’ dedication to meeting his sister’s needs.
He saw UM doctors at work again in 2010, when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked his home country of Haiti. Ford said he was “deeply touched” to see the “unselfishness and dedication of the institution toward the people of Haiti.”
Ford said he shares the same vision as UM President Julio Frenk, of making UM a “hemispheric, excellent and exemplary university.”
“I share that philosophy,” Ford said. “I share that objective.”
He said he wants to incorporate as many different perspectives as possible into research in order to solve critical problems in the field of medicine. That includes interdisciplinary work, such as working with the schools of Business and Nursing and Health Studies to translate research discoveries into innovation.
“This is a school that is not only ideally situated at the gateway of Latin America and West Indies,” Ford said. “But it also has tremendous resources when it comes to all of the allied help from professional schools. We can execute a great convergence of all of these.”
However, Ford said before he addresses the issues of the UM community and the greater South Florida community, he must become familiar with them. He said he hopes to connect with the large Haitian population in the region.
An estimated 213,000 Haitians are living in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metropolitan areas, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
“I want to get to know the community,” Ford said. “I want to get to know the issues that they face and see how the university can work with them to address their needs. But this is my philosophy: to serve every single person living in Miami or South Florida.”
Ford begins his new position June 1. He will be taking over the dean position previously held by Dr. Edward Abraham, now CEO of UHealth.