Expanding Community Service Efforts at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons 

A new VP&S Office of Community Service Programs has been created to expand the commitment of VP&S to community service, with a focus on the Washington Heights/Inwood community, Upper Manhattan, and parts of the Bronx.

Rafael Lantigua
Rafael Lantigua 

This newly established VP&S office will build upon the school’s many ongoing efforts to improve the health and education of adults and children through a range of community engagement and health promotion activities, in part by developing new opportunities made possible by the creation of Haven Plaza, which will open this summer. 

The founding director of the Office of Community Service Programs will be Rafael Lantigua, MD, professor of medicine at CUMC, who will have the additional title of associate dean for community service in VP&S. A native of the Dominican Republic and faculty member at Columbia since 1980, Dr. Lantigua has been a dean’s special adviser for community health affairs since 2011. His clinical and research interest has focused on promoting the health of the diverse community in upper Manhattan and improving access to care for the community’s growing aging population.

The recently established Service-Learning Program, which was created as part of the VP&S strategic plan, will function within the Office of Community Service Programs to develop and coordinate community service-learning opportunities for faculty, students, and staff. VP&S thanks the program’s previous director, Anne Armstrong-Coben, MD, who is now interim senior associate dean for admissions in VP&S.

Within the new office, Dr. Lantigua will also facilitate the creation of a new VP&S Academy of Community and Public Service to recognize medical school faculty who make substantial contributions to community and public health. The academy will be modeled after two other VP&S academies, the Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators and the Academy of Clinical Excellence.

The new VP&S Office of Community Service Programs will be housed in the medical school within the Office of Government and Community Affairs, which is under the direction of Associate Dean Ross Frommer. However, it also will be closely aligned with community programs at the Mailman School of Public Health, School of Nursing, College of Dental Medicine, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Full programming for the new office, which will include health fairs and student learning opportunities, will be announced this fall.