The University Place Hotel — How I joined my scholarship program



February 07, 2022

3 minute read


Biography: Aldasouqi is a professor of medicine and head of the division of endocrinology at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in East Lansing.

Disclosures: Aldasouqi does not report any relevant financial information.

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This photo is an old one I took myself from the University Place Hotel. I spent the night there for the interview for my fellowship in endocrinology in the fall of 1993.

“Which university ?” you can ask.

University Square Hotel
Photo credit: Saleh Aldasouqi

It’s Indiana University (IU), but with a catch.

Saleh Aldasouqi

It’s not the IU in Bloomington that most people who follow college sports are familiar with, one of the famous Big Ten athletic campuses. As a Michigan resident myself and a die-hard Spartan, IU is a personal sports rival.

No, this IU is in Indianapolis. And to be exact, it’s not the abbreviation IU, although we all call it U, but rather the abbreviation IUPUI.

It is a very long abbreviation for a university. Outside of Indiana, few people may know that Indiana State’s (reputable) medical school is simply IU. But no, it’s IUPUI. It stands for Indiana University and Purdue University at Indianapolis.

The story goes that since the state of Indiana did not have a medical school, it was decided that a medical and engineering campus would be established in the capital as a combined campus for the former Bloomington Universities and Lafayette. Over time, it became a full-fledged university.

It is a large medical complex. When I went for the interview in 1993, there were five major hospitals on the original campus, west of the railroad crossings. But more than 20 years ago, a huge merger occurred with the Methodist Medical Complex on the east side of the crossings. This expanded the medical operation of the IU medical school. Now, IU Health includes many hospitals and facilities across the state.

While in my final year of internal medicine residency at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan, in the fall of 1993, I began scheduling interviews for an endocrinology fellowship.

And, for readers who read my blogs, they will remember the story of how I decided to go into endocrinology. That’s another story, which can be read in this previous post:

So I interviewed for three endocrine programs: Loyola in Chicago, Hershey in Pennsylvania, and IU.

I chose IU.

At the time, there was no ERAS, buddy program, etc. There were very few applications for scholarships from graduate residents in internal medicine, with a more marked trend toward primary care.

What made me choose IU was what happened at this hotel.

As it is, the program would recommend other potential applicants to RSVP for a hotel room of their choice in town or, in some cases, a hotel room in the institution’s academic hotel. Some universities have their own hotels on campus. As the director of the scholarship program myself, now at MSU, I know that in our case, potential applicants can stay at any of our locations, not one, but two hotels on campus. Needless to say, for the past two years after the pandemic began, our interviews have been conducted remotely.

After arriving at Indy, I checked into the hotel the day before the interview.

As is the case with most scholarship programs, including ours, the scholarship program coordinator or similar staff member would come to the hotel lobby around 7:30 a.m. to pick up scholarship applicants and accompany to the building of the endocrine division. It turned out that I was the only candidate that day, and I don’t know if they had interviewed any other candidates except for the other two candidates who started with me the following July.

When I stepped out of the elevator that morning, and expecting to meet the scholarship coordinator, I was greeted by a middle-aged man in a white coat, with a stethoscope. He stood in front of the elevator door and introduced himself: “Mel Prince”…!

“Wait a minute,” I said to myself, “Isn’t that the director of programs, himself?”

Yes, it was Dr. Melvin Prince, professor and program director, and famous scientist/researcher (I think he was at DCCT and DPP, as IU was a major site for the two landmark studies)! I couldn’t believe that the program director himself would come to greet me and walk with me to the endocrine building. I remember telling Dr. Prince that he didn’t need to come himself to greet me and that I could have gone to the building myself.

After the interview, the same day or the next day, he called me to offer me a position. I accepted immediately.

It’s funny that I took the photo of the hotel at the time of the interview. Cell phones back then didn’t have cameras, so this must have been my old camera. It looks like I took the camera with me for the interview. At the time, I was a newcomer to America and hadn’t traveled much, if at all, before during a busy IM residency (and low finances). So, maybe this trip was a rare thing for me – business and tourism.

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