Health Matters A Letter from Our President
Lori Rice-Spearman Headshot
Artie Limmer
He was a revered colleague and an even greater friend. His absence leaves a void in the medical community and our hearts.

Remembering the Life and Legacy of a Beloved Dean

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s quote seems apropos to honor the late Steven L. Berk, MD, our beloved School of Medicine dean and executive vice president of clinical affairs, who died May 26, 2023. 

He will, no doubt, be remembered for his accomplishments as a dedicated physician, esteemed educator and visionary leader. His deep commitment from day one at TTUHSC impacted the mission of our great university. Highlights of Berk’s most impactful work include establishing the Family Medicine Accelerated Track, the first program of its kind in the nation. The program put the School of Medicine at the forefront nationwide in training family medicine physicians. He was vital in introducing medical research and establishing the university’s Clinical Research Institute, significantly increasing the number of published clinical papers by faculty. Berk also helped launch the medical summer research program and remained a staunch supporter, allowing more than 100 students to participate annually.

He was committed to ensuring medical students received the best in academic medicine, and he supported them in service-learning community efforts such as the Barbershop Hypertension Program and the Free Clinic in Lubbock, which has been replicated in two other TTUHSC campus communities.

The medical school has consistently received high rankings for student and faculty achievements. Our graduate medical education residency programs have substantially increased as well under Berk’s leadership, and now number 22 programs accredited with commendations. Berk’s unwavering commitment to his work led to strong relationships with our hospital partners, increased advocacy for diversity in medicine and enhanced support toward rural health care needs.

However, Berk’s legacy extends far beyond his professional achievements as the longest-standing dean for TTUHSC and one of the most tenured nationwide. He was a compassionate and caring mentor. Memories of feeling valued, embraced, inspired, and, yes, even entertained punctuate both his words and deeds. Berk was always approachable, demonstrating kindness, compassion and humility as he mentored students, offering advice and perspective to help them overcome obstacles.

He was a revered colleague and an even greater friend. His absence leaves a void in the medical community and our hearts.

Lori Rice-Spearman, PhD, (Health Professions ’86)
Texas Tech university Health Sciences Center