Gould leaves OUWB for Texas A&M College of Dentistry
An image of Dr. Gould in front of a whiteboard
Doug Gould, Ph.D., smiles during a lunch reception held in honor of his service to OUWB on Jan. 24, 2024.

The recipient of the first OUWB Dean’s Distinguished Professor Award is leaving the school after 12 years and having a huge role in shaping the foundation of OUWB.

Douglas Gould, Ph.D., chair, Department of Foundational Medical Studies, is set to take on the role of associate dean for Academic Affairs at Texas A&M College of Dentistry. His last day at OUWB is Jan. 26.

Gould was initially hired as a professor of neuroscience at OUWB and vice chair, Department of Foundational Medical Studies. He was named chair in 2018.

In addition to being first to receive the Dean’s Distinguished Professor Award, his accomplishments include serving as the first Oakland University faculty representative on the Medical School Management Committee, forming scholarly interest groups to bolster publications for faculty, overseeing establishment of bench research at OUWB, supporting the launch of the OUWB Body Donation Program, and founding the Leadership Institute for Faculty Development (LIFD) — a year-long program that fosters development of leaders.

He also was instrumental in the school gaining accreditation — and reaccreditation — and helping OUWB successfully navigate the choppy waters of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

For all his accomplishments and impact at OUWB, however, there are three simple words that Gould said hopes people remember him by.

“Fair, just, and nurturing…those are the three words I hope people think of when they think of me and my time at OUWB,” he said.

‘Always liked working with students’

Gould grew up in Oscoda, Michigan. With his parents working as teachers in the local school district, education has always been part of his life. When he was in seventh grade, his stepfather — “the best teacher I ever had” — taught Gould’s ecology class. One unit stood out.

“It was an anatomy unit, and I thought it was super cool,” he said.

It would stick with him as he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in social science health studies and psychology from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in anatomy and cell biology from Wayne State University.

An image of Dr. Carpenter and Dr. Gould

Gould shakes hands with Christopher Carpenter, M.D., Stephan Sharf interim dean, during a special lunch held for Gould.

His first experiences teaching occurred during graduate school. Gould moonlighted at Oakland Community College, where he taught courses like anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, and environmental science.

After earning his Ph.D. in four years, or about 18 months ahead of schedule, Gould had post-doc opportunities at Karolinska Institute in Sweden and Rush University in Chicago. However, he decided to stick with teaching.

“I really like the challenge of trying to explain something that’s complex, simply,” he said. “And I always liked working with students and working with people. It was very energizing and very fun.”

Following a short stint at Central Michigan University, he took a tenure track educator position at University of Kentucky and specialized in neuro anatomy.

During the nine years Gould and his first wife were in Kentucky, they adopted two little girls from China. One of the girls had special needs. Needing to find stronger support systems and a desire to be closer to family in Michigan, they moved to Ohio when Gould took a position at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

He was at Ohio State for six years, serving as professor and director of the Division of Anatomy.

While at Ohio State, he attended an anatomy conference where he ran into Judith Venuti, Ph.D., professor emerita, Department of Foundational Medical Studies.

‘Everybody had something different’

Gould said Venuti told him she had just joined a “brand new medical school in the Detroit area” and urged him to consider working at OUWB.

The timing coincided with his family’s desire to get even closer to family, which also was in the Detroit area. And Gould was ready.

“I had made full professor at Ohio State, I was 40 years old, and asked myself what was I going to do next…where would the next challenge lie?” he said. “The new school gig sounded like it would be awesome. And it was a good choice.”

David Thomas, Ph.D., associate dean, Preclinical Education, was part of the search committee that evaluated Gould during the hiring process. 

"I could tell during his interview that he was destined to become a leader within the school," said Thomas. "We were very fortunate to land him."

Gould joined OUWB in July 2012. He taught neuroscience and gross anatomy. He also was the first vice chair, Department of Foundational Medical Studies.

An image of Dr. Gould taking a selfie with Dr. Pitts and Dr. Bailey

Gould poses for a selfie with Deirdre Pitts, Ph.D., associate dean, Faculty & Staff Affairs and Professional Development, and Tonya Bailey, Ph.D., associate dean, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and Community Engagement.

Gould remembers his first day, when Robert Folberg, M.D., founding dean, came to his office, and expressed the importance of innovation, experimentation, and reinvention.

It was exciting, too, said Gould, because the team charged with bringing all those things to the table had come together from such rich, diverse backgrounds. They continually refined all aspects of the school, from curriculum and exams to promotion and tenure guidelines.

“Everybody had something different,” he said. “One person would explain how they did it at their school. Another person from a different school would do the same. Then we would put it all together and pull out the best features of everything.”

“This was early in the school’s history and everything was flexible and that made it fun,” he said.

And though there were times when Gould longed for the predictability and stability of a legacy school, there were aspects of OUWB that made it truly unique.

The most meaningful experience Gould had at OUWB was in 2014. His wife was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma and it was terminal. Venuti and other school administrators told him to do “whatever you need to do. ‘Go be with your wife. We got you.’”

“I wasn’t charged with coming in all of the time,” he said. “That would never have happened in my previous schools. I would have been out.”

In 2018, Gould became department chair.

‘Never lose our way’

Throughout his career, Gould has participated in what he called “a ton of leadership training.” A favorite aspect of being chair was applying what he had learned.

For example, during annual faculty reviews, Gould always asked if they had feedback for him.

“That always shocked people, but I got the best information out of doing that,” he said.

Gould said he is most proud of helping individuals develop, whether they sought to get engaged in more scholarly work, leadership training, learn new skills, and so on.

Today, his life circumstances are different — Gould has remarried and he and his wife are now empty nesters. Like he did when he first came to OUWB, Gould still feels the urge to be challenged in new ways and “keep it fresh,” which is why he is making the move to Texas A&M.

More from OUWB

Take 5 with Professor Doug Gould, Ph.D.

‘Super-honored’: OUWB department chair named fellow of the American Association for Anatomy

Venuti named OUWB’s first professor emeritus

And he will be missed.

Thomas called Gould's departure "a huge loss."

"He was always able to tap into his past experiences to help guide our growth and development," he said. "Aside from his experience, I will surely miss his sense of humor. You could always count on Doug to bring a bit a levity to every meeting."

Kara Sawarynski, Ph.D., assistant dean, Accreditation and Continuous Quality Improvement, joined OUWB at the same time as Gould. She said that he has been involved with many aspects of OUWB’s growth, and “has made a lasting impact in many areas of the school.”

“Dr. Gould has served as role model to many and impressively demonstrated dedication to the students, faculty, staff and school throughout a multitude of undertakings,” she said.

Sawarynski served as vice chair during the COVID pandemic.

“I saw first-hand the countless hours he…spent behind the scenes working to ensure the success and wellness of FMS faculty and OUWB students. “His impact on OUWB, mentoring of faculty, and friendship will be long-lasting, and Texas A&M is lucky to have his leadership.”

Christopher Carpenter, M.D., Stephan Sharf interim dean, called Gould a “beloved member” of the OUWB community who will be missed. Carpenter also expressed appreciation for the work and support Gould has given the school.

“(Gould) has helped the faculty, and the school move forward,” he said. “He has been a huge part of what OUWB is today.”

Duane Mezwa, M.D., retired Stephan Sharf Dean, spoke during a packed luncheon held in honor of Gould.

“Doug has touched everybody in this room in a special way,” he said. “When you think about the things he’s created and started (at OUWB) …those efforts are going to continue long after you’re gone.”

As for the current state of OUWB and where the school is headed after he leaves, Gould said he has one big hope.

“I hope that OUWB keeps an eye on what it is, what it was built to be, and what it can be,” he said. “We’re not here to compete with University of Michigan or Case Western. We’re here to be OUWB.”

“This place can continue to be special,” he added. “And I hope we never lose our way from that.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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