Women's history month
Administrator embraces opportunities for change
is the first in a series of articles honoring MUSC women who have
changed the face, landscape and direction of MUSC and the medical
center. This year's theme is Women Taking the Lead.
by Cindy Abole
When it comes to women and their contributions to MUSC’s campus,
Valerie T. West, Ed.D., has been the real thing, the real McCoy, the
a dozen women before her, she’s greatly contributed to the growth of
the university by following a tradition of service, dedication and
achievement. West has led the way among women faculty leaders as it
relates to team building, curriculum design and organizational and
Within her 40 year career, West has devoted her time to university
service through the understanding and development of educational
programs, improvements to promote student leadership, introduced the
value of interdisciplinary health care teams, lifelong learning and
preparation of faculty. She officially retires from the university on
“In every aspect, I’ve always wanted to do a good job, meet people,
solve problems and help others and have fun doing it,” said West.
“These principles have allowed me to be the person who I really am.”
Not one to prefer the limelight, West says “I didn’t seek out a lot of
my positions and roles throughout my career.” She attended Colby-Sawyer
College in New London, N.H. “I was most often approached by a teacher,
faculty or administrators to provide leadership. I do things out of the
pure joy of working with others and have always been interested in
working with teams and problem solving. Basically, I’m a very positive,
optimistic person who believes in finding a win-win solution with
others. If I saw an issue that needed solving, I’d get involved.”
A New York state native, West began her career at MUSC as a faculty
member in the Health Information Administra-tion program in the College
of Health Professions (CHP). There, she led in the development of the
college’s Bachelor of Health Sciences program working and traveling
around the state with a faculty team to teach and promote adult
“I’ve been fortunate to have been given many opportunities in my
career,” West said. “I’ve always professed that one says ‘yes’ to these
opportunities and worry later about the details of making it happen. I
love change and I’ve been able to do a wide variety of things at MUSC.”
During some of her tenure at CHP, she chose to work part-time to raise
two sons while earning both a master’s degree and doctorate in
education from the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Her
doctoral study focused on higher education, leadership curriculum
development, concepts for teaching/learning and adult education. She
names John Dewey, Malcolm Knowles and Stephen D. Brookfield as her
educational role models.
Becki Trickey, Ph.D., special assistant to the dean, College of Health
Professions, has known West since she began working in academic
leadership in 1979. Trickey was a project director for several
interdisciplinary federal grants awarded from the Bureau of Health
Professions and has been a good friend and colleague.
“Valerie been an inspiration to so many people—both men and women,”
said Trickey. “She’s genuinely passionate at what she does whether it’s
educational, academic, lifelong learning; she’s dedicated to students
as learners and that has helped her be a great teacher and
collaborator. She genuinely believes that everyone can contribute and
bring something to the table.”
West also served as interim chair and chair of three different
departments within CHP and helped create several teaching programs
including the Doctor of Health Administration program in 1996. She led
CHP as assistant dean for admissions, associate dean for academic
affairs and interim dean for the college on two separate occasions
(1990 to 1991 and 1998 to 1999). She also was involved in the training
of health professions students for work in the state’s rural areas
through collaboration with South Carolina Area Health Education Centers
known as the South Carolina Rural Interdisciplinary Program for
Training or SCRIPT program. She also has been a faculty member in the
College of Medicine’s Family Medicine Rural Clerkship. West was praised
by colleagues by being named CHP Teacher of the Year (1990) and
recipient of the Governor’s Distinguished Professor Award in 1991.
In 2001, West developed the university’s Presidential Scholar’s
Program, a yearlong, interdisciplinary experience for 40 selected
students and faculty that promotes leadership through interdisciplinary
learning and experiences promoting team-work. Since then, more than 300
students have been named scholars. To recognize excellence among
student leaders, she helped create the Student Leadership Academy in
In 2000, West was tapped to serve in university leadership as associate
provost for Education and took over duties as dean of student life in
2002 where she directed student-related programs and later consolidated
both programs to form the Division of Education and Student Services.
She also led in the reorganization of the Office of Student Diversity
in 2006 and renovations to the Education Student Center/Library (2005)
and Colcock Hall (Office of the President in 2006).
West’s legacy will be her dedication to students and faculty
development. She will be remembered for her leadership in guiding the
institution toward interprofessional education, team building and her
contributions to the Creating Collaborative Care (C3) Initiative in
2006. C3 is the foundation for the university’s 10-year Quality
Enhancement Plan or course of action to develop interprofessional
training in medical/health professions education as required by the
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) reaffirmation of
accreditation. She also helped establish other related activities such
as Interprofessional Day and she provided support for the Clarion
Inteprofessional team competition.
On diversity issues, West established MUSC’s partnership with the
National Coalition Building Institute, which provides training, tools
and strategies to promoting diversity and reduce prejudice on campus.
Recently, West was the 2009 recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Recognition Award, a student award presented by the Black History
Intercollegiate Consortium of which MUSC is a member.
On Jan. 19, West was presented with the MUSC Foundation’s Distinguished
Faculty Service Award, the university’s highest honor recognizing her
40 years of outstanding service. Joining her was husband, Wally, and
sons, Rich and John.
She attributes her career success to the opportunity of working with
many talented people including MUSC President Ray Greenberg, M.D.,
Ph.D., John Raymond, M.D., DCI professor of medicine and vice president
for Academic Affairs and Provost and Rosalie Crouch, Ph.D., former vice
president for academic affairs and provost and professor, Department of
“Nurturing is how I’d describe Valerie and her commitment to raising
her family and dedication to supporting students, faculty and patients
at MUSC. Her interest and devotion to interdisciplinary education, the
health professions and student leadership through the Presidential
Scholars Program and other educational efforts should be commended. She
brings a tremendous aspect to women leadership on campus,” said Crouch.
Dr. Valerie West with Dr. Deborah Deas during West's retirement celebration.
Upon retirement, West hopes to travel and devote her time to other
interests and hobbies including golf. She’s sure she can share her
talent for teamwork and organizational skills working in the Tri-county
community as she returns to private life.
“Dr. West has conducted herself with equanimity, poise, grace, good
humor and total dedication to our students and the institution
throughout her career. She has been a superb teacher and committed
mentor, a strong proponent of interprofessional education, and an eager
and interactive participant in numerous committee duties. Her
contributions and commitment to excellence, and her professionalism
have been a source of strength and pride to this office and have
benefited our institution enormously. We are fortunate that Dr. West
has given so much of her time, energy and talents to our institution
during her 40 years at MUSC,” said Raymond.
Friday, March 6, 2009