University News

With Wing to step down, search for new dean of medicine continues

The committee will narrow the field of candidates to fill the role in the coming months

Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The search process for a new dean of the Alpert Medical School is progressing as Edward Wing, dean of medicine and biological sciences, prepares to step down from the position June 30.

The dean’s job is “complicated and important,” said Provost Mark Schlissel P’15, as many responsibilities “fall into one position” due to the unusual amount of integration between the University and the Med School. The dean is responsible for heading the Division of Biology and Medicine, which encompasses the entire Med School as well as six undergraduate departments, comprising 19 total departments, Schlissel said. The dean also coordinates more than 600 members of the clinical staff of the Med School across the various affiliated hospitals who employ them in order to ensure a consistent curriculum.

Schlissel, who will be chairing the search, selected the 14 other members of the search committee — including Honora Burnett MD’15, Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron and Timothy Babineau, president and CEO of Lifespan — and hired a search consultant to help generate a large pool of candidates. He said the 14 committee members “represent the breadth of the constituency of the position.”

In the past weeks, the committee has focused on reaching out and generating a pool of interested candidates, Schlissel said. The committee published notices in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in the Journal of Higher Education and through online venues, he said. The search committee also sent emails to all 3,000 alums of the Med School to spark interest in the position among alumni and their colleagues, Schlissel said.

The committee aims to confidentially interview about 12 of the candidates — those who look best suited to the position on paper — in early March, Schlissel said. The list of candidates will be narrowed to five or six after the interviews, and the committee will decide in April on the final three candidates to submit to President Christina Paxson and the Corporation, who will make the final decision. Schlissel said Wing’s successor will be ready before the start of the next academic year and will hopefully be named before he steps down June 30.

Schlissel said the committee is likely to have a range of 50 to 100 serious candidates. While not many of the candidates have personal connections to Brown, they have “expressed a lot of respect for the University and the Medical School,” Schlissel said. Schlissel added that the identities of the candidates must be kept confidential because all those who would be considered for the position already have prominent jobs, and applying for this position and not being extended an offer may damage their standings.

While Wing offered his own experiences and suggestions for what qualities would be important for his successor at a meeting several weeks ago, he has no role in the search process, which is “pretty traditional,” Schlissel said.

“The formation of a faculty practice plan at Lifespan” will be one of the most important tasks for a new dean, Wing said when he announced his plans to step down in November. The complexity of partnering with Lifespan lies in working with and coordinating the efforts of multiple local hospitals that employ clinical members working with the Med School program, Schlissel said. The aim will be to continue to develop “good working relationships with a set of shared goals,” he said.

The new School of Public Health will not alter the role of the incoming dean, Schlissel said, because “the faculty in the public health department and the Medical school are natural collaborators with each other” and the creation of a new school will not change that relationship.

Upcoming tasks for Wing’s successor will include finishing and launching the Med School’s new Primary Care and Public Health curricular track, as well as continuing development of the Brown Institute for Brain Science, which will involve further collaboration with other health facilities and hospitals.

Though the Rhode Island Department of Health has not been directly involved in the search, “(the department looks) forward to working with the new dean and (expects) to collaborate closely as (it continues) to advocate for more team-based primary care in Rhode Island,” wrote Dara Chadwick, chief officer of health promotion for the state, in an email to The Herald.

Chadwick added that since Brown has the only medical school in Rhode Island, the Department of Health will hope to work with the administration “to increase the number of Rhode Islanders who go to medical school here at home.”

The committee will be “patient and diligent” in finding an “outstanding” candidate for the position, Schlissel said, to “keep the Med School on this upward trajectory.”


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