FSU names esteemed family physician, education leader as College of Medicine dean

Dr. Alma Littles, dean of the Florida State University College of Medicine. (FSU Photography Services/Bill Lax)
Dr. Alma Littles, dean of the Florida State University College of Medicine. (FSU Photography Services/Bill Lax)

Florida State University Provost Jim Clark has announced Dr. Alma Littles as the new dean of the College of Medicine. She begins in the role today.

Littles has served as interim dean of the college since February 2023 and as a senior associate dean for medical education and academic affairs for nearly 20 years.

“Dr. Littles’ dedication to Florida State University and to the people of Florida has made a profound impact on the health and well-being of thousands of people,” Clark said. “Her career exemplifies the mission of the FSU College of Medicine to practice patient-centered health care, advance medical knowledge, and bring high-quality care where it is most needed. Dr. Littles has provided outstanding leadership as the interim dean, and I have heard from an impressive number of health care leaders across the state that they looked forward to her appointment to permanent Dean. That day has arrived!”

Littles replaced Dr. John P. Fogarty, who served as dean from 2008 until his retirement in 2023.

Her commitment to service began in her hometown of Quincy, Florida, where she was the youngest of 12 children. She saw the difficulty of accessing health care in her rural community, and after graduating from the University of Florida College of Medicine in 1986, and the Family Medicine Residency Program at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) in 1989, she returned home to practice.

“When I first saw the College of Medicine mission statement, it resonated with me,” Littles said. “The college’s priorities and my goals as a physician mirror each other. Growing up in a rural and underserved community stimulated my interest in investing my talents toward helping people whose health care needs are not easily met. The college has remained dedicated in training physicians who can help to meet those needs.”

Teaching and leadership have long been a part of her work. She began precepting medical students and residents soon after beginning to practice and joined the faculty of the Family Medicine Residency Program at TMH in 1996, later becoming director of the program. After the FSU College of Medicine was created in 2000, she became the acting and then founding chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Rural Health. She also served as a president of the Florida Academy of Family Physicians.

“Dr. Littles is not only an outstanding physician, she’s outstanding at developing the next generation of physicians,” said FSU President Richard McCullough. “Her dedication to education and patient care sets a remarkable example for all. Dr. Littles embodies the spirit of excellence that defines our institution’s mission to advance health care and nurture future leaders in medicine.”

As dean, she will oversee a college with a robust research and teaching portfolio. College faculty tallied more than $126 million in research expenditures from 2019 through 2023. Along with the central campus, the college includes nine regional campuses or training sites where medical and physician assistant students complete their third and fourth-year education.

FSU’s model of medical education has a unique community focus that sends students across Florida for one-on-one, apprenticeship-style clerkships with established community physicians. Most medical students in the U.S. complete their clerkships in a large teaching hospital or academic medical center.

Littles has firsthand experience with that education model. She was a preceptor for students in the FSU Program in Medical Sciences and was the acting dean of the Tallahassee Regional Campus when it was developed prior to the first cohort of third-year medical students at FSU going out into community settings to complete their required and elective rotations.

She has also led the college’s accreditation efforts, the development and evolution of its curriculum and the expansion of its community-based education model in her role as senior associate dean for medical education and academic affairs.

“I see teaching and mentoring as an essential part of being a physician,” Littles said. “New doctors and physician assistants have so much to learn. Along with hours of study and practice, they need experienced practitioners to guide them on their journey. My own mentors were instrumental in helping me become a successful physician, and it is gratifying to pay it forward to the next generation.”

FSU has ambitious plans for advancing health care research and education. Littles will continue to play a major role in FSU Health, an enterprise she supported as interim dean. FSU Health is an initiative to transform health care delivery in North Florida. FSU is partnering with Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare to build an academic health center on the TMH campus that will offer advanced medical training and translational research for FSU faculty and TMH clinicians. The work is funded by $125 million from the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis.

Other components to FSU Health include a health care campus in Panama City Beach that will bring together clinicians, researchers and students to meet the rapidly increasing need for medical care in the Florida Panhandle. FSU is also partnering with Mayo Clinic and others on projects to improve health care research and practice.

“Dr. Littles is an excellent leader for this initiative,” McCullough said. “Her experience and vision will guide us toward achieving our goals with precision and compassion. I am pleased to welcome her as the new dean of the FSU College of Medicine.”

The Florida State University College of Medicine was created by the Florida Legislature in June 2000. The college welcomed its first students, the Class of 2005, in May 2001 and now counts nearly 2,000 physicians among its alumni. The college ranks in the 86th percentile nationally for alumni physicians practicing in-state and in the 98th percentile nationally for alumni physicians practicing in underserved areas.

For more information about the College of Medicine, visit med.fsu.edu.