Dr. Gus Watanabe was clear during an admissions interview with Jerome Adams (MD Class of 2001): He wanted him at IU School of Medicine. “What will it take for you to come here?” asked the esteemed former head of the Department of Medicine. Adams’ response was direct. “Based on my family’s situation, I really need to go where I can receive the most financial aid,” he replied. Adams’ credentials glittered: A 3.97 GPA at the University of Maryland, undergraduate research time with a Nobel Prize winner, and Harvard and Washington University in hot pursuit.
Watanabe’s instincts about Adams were prescient, considering Adams went on to become an anesthesiologist, Indiana Health Commissioner and U.S. Surgeon General. Recruiting Adams, who grew up the son of two modest teachers in Maryland, to IU School of Medicine required making a competitive aid offer. Watanabe floated the possibility of scholarship packages that would cover all of Adams’ costs. “If you offer me that, I’ll sign on the dotted line,” said Adams, who benefited from the Lilly Scholarship while a student at IU School of Medicine.
Today, it crystallizes Adams’ view on the importance of a diversity scholarship at the IU School of Medicine: “You need to understand what the market is providing for those individuals and put a competitive proposal on the table.”