Adashi to step down as bio-med dean

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

After nearly four years as dean of medicine and biological sciences, Eli Adashi will step down at the end of this academic year, he announced Wednesday.

“With much accomplished and with new challenges beckoning, it is time for fresh leadership to negotiate the key transitions ahead,” Adashi wrote in an e-mail Wednesday to members of the Division of Biology and Medicine. “Alpert Medical School is soundly positioned for further progress.”

Adashi, who has presided over a period of significant change in both the structure and the name of the Warren Alpert Medical School, will leave his position next June. After a sabbatical period, he will return to Brown as a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Provost David Kertzer ’69 P’95 P’98 told The Herald.

“Over the last few years, while he’s been dean, we’ve accomplished really a remarkable amount for the Medical School and the Program in Public Health,” said Kertzer, who announced Adashi’s departure in an e-mail to the campus-wide community. “We’ll certainly miss him.”

A graduate of the Sackler School of Medicine of Tel Aviv University in Israel and a former chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Adashi took over the post in the winter of 2005 from interim dean Richard Besdine. Since then, Adashi has revamped the Med School’s aging curriculum, raised its national profile and this year accepted a $100 million gift to the Med School – tied with a 2004 donation from liquor magnate Sidney Frank ’42 for the largest in University history – from entrepreneur Warren Alpert.

The Herald was unable to reach Adashi for comment, but the outgoing dean suggested in his e-mail to members of the Division of Biology and Medicine that he had brought the Med School to a key transition point and felt his goals as dean had been accomplished.

Adashi listed the details of his 2004 charge by the Corporation – “design a new integrated medical school curriculum,” “rank in the top quartile of U.S. medical schools” and “establish an academic medical center with Brown’s teaching hospital partners,” among others – and then wrote, “much of the aforementioned agenda has either been accomplished or else is securely underway.”

Under Adashi, the Med School climbed nine spots in the U.S. News and World Report’s scholastic rankings, and the curriculum – previously considered outdated – was overhauled to focus on interdisciplinary education. Adashi’s term has also seen increases in faculty and class size.

“I think he feels he’s accomplished a lot in the last three years,” Kertzer said, “and for various reasons, it is a tight transition period.”

Kertzer said the University is in the very early stages of finding a replacement for Adashi, but officials do not have any one candidate in mind. Brown’s Program in Public Health, which saw new life under Adashi, relocated last year to an 11-story tower on South Main Street in accordance with plans to turn the program into an accredited graduate school by 2010. But until plans for accreditation are more concrete, Kertzer said it will be difficult to pinpoint the desired qualities of Adashi’s replacement.

“The first stage in any search like this is to look at the nature of the position,” Kertzer said. “In this case we don’t quite know yet what that will be.”

He also said it is not yet decided whether the search will be completed by the summer or whether the University will appoint an interim dean. Besdine, Adashi’s predecessor, served for two and a half years as interim dean while the University looked to replace Donald Marsh, who stepped down as dean of medicine and biological sciences in 2002.

“Whether we’ll have a regular dean or an acting dean for a few years is a decision we’ll have to make,” Kertzer said.

Students and deans interviewed by The Herald praised Adashi for his record as dean and said they did not expect his departure.

“I’m very surprised,” said Associate Dean of Biological Sciences Marjorie Thompson. “I have always found Eli to be responsive and fair-minded with respect to undergraduate education.”

“I think it comes as a surprise to a lot of us,” said Jeremy Boyd MD’09, president of the Medical School Senate. “These past few years that he’s been here essentially coincided with the time I’ve been here as a student. It’s been a sign of change – beneficial change.”

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