"There is an end to everything, to good things as well": That truism has been attributed to many sages over the centuries, including Chaucer. It's a sentiment that has been much on my mind during the past few months, for I am retiring from Dartmouth as of December 31.
I will be leaving behind what has been, for me, a very good thing indeed—most notably the editorship of Dartmouth Medicine. I've had an opportunity to lead or contribute to many other programs and projects during my 36 years of working for Dartmouth (including over 25 for the Medical School), but nothing in all that time has meant as much to me as the relationships I've forged with the hundreds of people who have played a part in putting together this magazine and with the thousands of people who have read the result.
I've come to know well many of those who have contributed to the magazine over the years. My incomparable colleagues—currently Jen Durgin, Amos Esty, and Matt Wiencke, plus their predecessors on the staff—top the list of those who deserve credit if you like what you read here.
In addition, numerous freelance contributors—some of whom I've also come to know well, but a lot of whom I've never met—have helped make this a better magazine. A few bear mention by name: our primary photographer, Jon Fox, and illustrator, Bert Dodson, plus many noted writers, including Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Proulx (she wrote for DM before fame found her); two governors widely known for their work on health care—Oregon's Dr. John Kitzhaber (a 1969 graduate of Dartmouth College) and Colorado's Richard Lamm; two former U.S. surgeons general—Dr. C. Everett Koop (a 1937 graduate of Dartmouth College) and Dr. Antonia Novello; mystery writer Archer Mayor (DM is the only magazine for which he's written a short story featuring his hard-boiled Vermont detective, Joe Gunther); and more.
But as much as I'm grateful that people of such stature have been willing to write for DM, I appreciate at least as much the fact that the magazine has been graced with the work of countless individuals who may not bear household names but who have produced for these pages writing of exceptional elegance and insight about the human condition in times of health and sickness, about the search for knowledge regarding healing, and about the quest to educate in ever more thoughtful ways the students of today who tomorrow will lead the nation and the world in that search.
And there are numerous others—the many members over the years of DM's Editorial Board; colleagues in other offices at Dartmouth; our superb printer, Lane Press in Burlington, Vt.; and more—whose high standards have also been part of making this magazine into what it is today.
Thanks to all the people who have been willing to share their diverse talents, Dartmouth Medicine has received dozens of awards over the years, from the Association of American Medical Colleges and other professional organizations.
But the "award" that means the most to me is the fact that DM clearly touches readers. Reaching its audience is, after all, the ultimate goal of any publication—and DM's is devoted. I think, for example, of the reader who wrote recently that "Dartmouth Medicine and The New Yorker [are] my must-reads!" Of the postal worker in West Virginia who was so moved by what she saw in the copies of DM that passed through her post office that she wrote and asked to be added to our mailing list. Of the DMS alum (someone who's been very generous to the School over the years) who called DM "one of the finest publications of its kind among the many that exist." Of a Dartmouth College alum whom I've never met who sent me flowers when he got word of my retirement.
So although I'm sure that retiring is the right decision for me right now, I have to admit that I have tears in my eyes as I write this piece for "my" last issue. Out of curiosity, I counted up how many issues there have been since I became editor—and it felt like karma that this is the 100th issue with my name on the masthead. It's likely, given the way the world of communications is changing, that the magazine's future (at least in this form) won't be as long as its past. But I have no doubt that the centuries-old enterprise it covers will endure.
I invoked a sage of the 14th century in my opening line, and I'd like to go even further back in time and invoke the first-century B.C.E. Roman poet Catullus for my closing line: Ave atque vale, or "Hail and farewell!" It's been truly wonderful.
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