MEET ANDREW COPE:
DIRECTOR OF MEDICAL
BY CHARLES CLAWSON
COPE IS A COMPETITOR. "When someone challenges me to something,
I can't say no," he admits. People routinely ask Cope what his next
adventure will be. *
Last summer, it was a U.S. Navy SEAL fitness competition in San
Diego (he finished 62nd out of roughly 200). Two summers ago, it
was scaling Mount Rainier: "One moment standing on an ice shelf
on Disappointment Cleaver I thought, 'If my mother saw what I'm
doing, she'd wring my neck.' "
His daily calendar has all the variety of a decathlon.
During soccer season he leaves the office in full uniform. At one
point he belonged simultaneously to a hockey team, two soccer teams,
a bowling league, a softball team, and he coached soccer as well.
"I'm so competitive, when a guy on my hockey team asked if I wanted
to enter the Navy SEAL Super Fit Challenge, my instant response
was 'When and where do I sign up?' "
Where Cope grew up, outside of Boston, even the weather
provided a challenge. "Winter was a rite of passage -- something
you had to endure. The first winter I skipped out here, I felt I'd
cheated -- like I'd gotten out of a doctor's appointment or writing
Now at his desk, Cope is interrupted by the refrain
from ESPN's SportsCenter alerting him to a new e-mail. In his office,
papers are stacked on the carpet and also on the chair beside him.
"I can find anything in a minute," he says confidently. On one shelf
is a shrink-wrapped box of Wheaties, picturing the 1997 AFC championship
New England Patriots' football team. On another shelf is a miniature
soccer ball that he and co-workers toss around.
He loads a recently completed CD-ROM of the School
of Medicine alumni directory. "You might get a kick out of this,"
he says, referring to the strains of J.S. Bach that begin the program.
"I selfishly chose one of my favorites. It's called 'Jesu, Joy of
Man's Desiring.' " Cope's choice of this particular Bach cantata
begins to seem appropriate.
For the past four years, he has directed much of
his restless energy into Stanford medical school's alumni relations.
He and his group have helped expand the annual reunion program from
one to three days -- which now include tours, classroom visits and
an alumni-hosted gathering at a Woodside winery -- and coordinated
programs for alumni in Boston, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle.
Recent programs have included updates on the
current Stanford curriculum, advances in cardiac medicine, discussions
about complementary medicine, and the effect of the internet on
doctor/patient relationships. For the Bay Area, his group coordinates
the quarterly Physician-to-Physician Breakfasts, held at the medical
Over the past three years, it should be noted, alumni
contributions have increased 41 percent in dollars and 18 percent
in donors, with records set for involvement.
"One thing great about this job," Cope says, "is
that you spend 95 percent of your time around people who are completely
enthusiastic about Stanford." He recalls common moments such as
when a '60s graduate in Boston brought a round of emotional applause
with his thanks and appreciation, or, less typically, when Marcus
Krupp, from the class of '38, lead an animated cheer of "Axe Cal"
during one Big Game weekend.
Cope is back to work, reading e-mail, searching for
alumni in Minnesota. On his office door there is a "Calvin and Hobbes"
cartoon depicting Calvin through a series of rocky disappointments.
The final line reads, "You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky
rocketship underpants don't help." Mention of the cartoon brings
Cope to look up and smile. He says, "I really like that one, you
know, especially on one of those days where you've done all that
you can." SMD