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Stanford Report, February 23, 2000

Academic leader sought as dean in midst of clinical changes  


Eugene Bauer, MD, last week told two faculty gatherings that he hopes the timely work of the dean's search committee will give him an ally to represent academic interests at a time of tough choices and enormous financial pressures on Stanford's clinical enterprise.

Bauer is Vice President for Stanford University Medical Center and Dean of the School of Medicine, and his job will soon be split in two -- the hiring of a new dean will allow him to focus on the VP portion of his position. At a Feb. 16 Medical School Faculty Senate meeting and a Feb. 18 town hall meeting, Bauer spoke prior to presentations by the committee searching for his replacement as dean. At both meetings, the co-chairs of the search committee expressed confidence that they will be able to submit a list of three to five unranked internal and external decanal candidates by April 15, the deadline set by University President Gerhard Casper.

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Search committee co-chair John Hennessy, University provost, said that while the president will consider a short list of candidates in April, the final decision will likely be made "in tandem with the new president."

"I can't imagine that somebody would want to take this position without knowing who the boss is going to be," particularly when the candidate serves at the president's pleasure, Hennessy said.

Hennessy said the Board of Trustees meets April 12, and "I think they're working toward that date" to recommend a new president, who could then be involved in the dean's final selection along with Casper.

At both meetings, search committee co-chair Stephen Galli, MD, professor and chair of pathology, and Hennessy addressed faculty concerns by explaining that while the search period is short, it is flexible and will accommodate screening of both internal and external candidates. Galli said the 12-member committee has identified 33 to 35 potential external candidates, and about a dozen internal candidates. The group has placed ads in major scholarly and academic trade publications, but Galli said the committee will rely primarily on the faculty for input. Letters soliciting suggestions have been sent to the entire faculty, and the search committee is meeting with members of constituent groups, including the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System as well as other schools at the University that interact closely with the Medical School, such as engineering. Galli noted that because of the tight timetable, suggestions must be submitted to the search committee no later than March 31. Suggestions should be sent of Jeffrey Wachtel, associate provost and staff to the committee at

Galli and Hennessy promoted the role of the dean as a faculty advocate. Bauer told the senate of the need for a strong academic leader to give him time as vice president to address pressing clinical issues resulting from the demerger of UCSF Stanford Health Care and pressures on clinical medicine generally.

"The kinds of decisions that will have to be made as we face our reconstitution of the Medical Center will have an academic impact. I have deep conviction that I should not be making those [decisions] unilaterally. They require someone who has a depth of understanding and an approach that will represent the academic needs of the school," Bauer told the several dozen faculty members who attended the town hall meeting. "We may have to make decisions about downsizing programs," he added.

"The job that Gene [Bauer] is currently trying to do is too big for one person," said Hennessy. Bauer told the senate he is spending nearly 100 percent of his time dealing with clinical issues. However, Bauer assured the faculty that he would stay on as dean until a replacement is appointed or until he is asked to step down.

The committee, Galli said, is looking for someone who is "not on their training wheels when it comes to academic leadership, [someone] who actually has experience in that area, someone of outstanding scientific stature with a proven commitment to the educational mission." The new dean probably will have an MD degree, but unusually qualified PhD candidates will not be ruled out, he said.

"And we need someone who is willing to work in a sort of tandem relationship with the vice president of the medical center," Galli added. He noted that only a handful of academic medical centers, including Duke and Rochester, have a similar vice president/dean administrative structure.

Hennessy explained that the dean will report to the provost on academic issues, and it is expected the dean will present state-of-the-school messages to the University Faculty Senate.

The starting date "will be determined in part by when the best candidate can get here," Galli said. While the University has set the beginning of the next academic year in September as the target, "When it comes down to choosing between finding the right candidate and getting a person here quickly, the great candidate triumphs," said Hennessy.

Several faculty members asked if financial troubles might be a deterrent to possible candidates. Galli responded that the committee is "looking for somebody who sees this as an opportunity, as a tremendous challenge," a chance to help make Stanford the best medical school in the nation.

Other members of the search committee include Ann M. Arvin, professor and chief of pediatric infectious diseases and professor of microbiology/immunology; Thomas A. Burdon, MD, associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery; Patricia Engasser, MD, representing alumni; Marion Henry, medical student; Charlotte Jacobs, MD, professor of medicine(oncology) and director of the Clinical Cancer Center; Susan McConnell, PhD, associate professor of biological sciences; Oscar Salvatierra, MD, professor of surgery and of pediatrics; Matthew Scott, PhD, professor of developmental biology; Richard W. Tsien, PhD, professor of molecular and cellular physiology; and Paul G. Yock, MD, professor of medicine (cardiovascular) and, by courtesy, of biomechanical engineering, and co-director of the Institute for Biomedical Engineering. SR