Dr. Hutcherson has worked tirelessly to develop and strengthen opportunities, programming, and support for underrepresented minority students, and she has made an indelible impact on the school, our students, and our alumni. Her success in recruiting exceptional students adds significantly to each class, and P&S has distinguished itself as being one of the most diverse medical schools among its peers. The support she offers to students is widely praised and reflected in the success of our alumni. As founder and leader of the Kenneth A. Forde Diversity Alliance, created to recruit, retain, and recognize a diverse community, she has made great strides in connecting and celebrating the diverse faculty, house staff, researchers, and students at P&S, while also strengthening mentoring and pipeline programs and bringing the contributions of underrepresented minorities to the fore.
A Conversation with Dr. Hutcherson
Tell us what you do at the P&S and how long you have been working here.
I came to Columbia in 1981 as a resident physician in obstetrics & gynecology then joined the faculty as an assistant professor of ob/gyn in 1985. In 2002, I was given the opportunity to become the associate dean in the Office of Minority Affairs at P&S. I was initially given the task of increasing the number of underrepresented minority students.
Thirteen years later, underrepresented students represent 24 percent of the first-year class. The office has expanded to include multiple pipeline programs that encourage middle school, high school, and college students to pursue medical degrees. It oversees the recruitment and support of a very diverse medical student population and the cultivation of an inclusive, supportive environment for students, house staff, and faculty at P&S.
How did you come to P&S and/or this role?
I came to Columbia as a resident physician in ob/gyn. I was encouraged to apply for my current role by Dr. Gerald Thomson, who was the retiring senior associate dean in the Office of Minority Affairs.
What do you like most about your role?
There are many joys in my job so it’s difficult to choose just one aspect of it I like best. I enjoy encouraging and motivating high school and college students to pursue a medical degree. Coming from a poor family in the rural South, I didn’t have many role models. However, there were several people who encouraged and mentored me in high school, college, and medical school.
This support was key in my success on the journey to a career in medicine. I feel an obligation to give back. In my job, I am able to tell young people that a medical career is possible. I serve as a role model and mentor. I feel that I am making a difference for many. And I also enjoy serving as a role model and mentor for medical students at P&S. It’s wonderful to see them enter as young learners and leave as confident physicians. I am convinced that I have the very best job in the world.
Tell us about your life outside work.
I am the mother of four college-aged children. I have been married for 29.5 years. My life outside Columbia revolves around my family. I also write for magazines and am the author of three books, and am working on the fourth. I’m learning how to cook delicious food. My other hobby is photography.