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Search launched for medical school founding dean

Feb. 23, 2010

KALAMAZOO--A seven-member search committee with communitywide representation has been formed to identify a founding dean for a proposed school of medicine in Kalamazoo.

The committee, chaired by Dr. Jack Luderer, executive director of the Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center at Western Michigan University, is made up of medical leaders at the two Kalamazoo community hospitals, representatives of the Kalamazoo medical community and WMU faculty and administrators. Committee members are:

  • Dr. Terry Baxter, chief medical officer of Borgess Medical Center
  • Dr. Gary M. Druskovich, a physician with Kalamazoo Anesthesiology PC and a member of the Borgess Health Board of Trustees
  • Dr. John Jellies, WMU professor of biological sciences
  • Dr. Scott Larson, senior vice president for medical affairs and chief medical officer for Bronson Healthcare Group
  • Dr. Marijo Snyder, a physician with OB-GYN PC of Kalamazoo and a member of the Bronson Healthcare Group Board of Directors
  • Dr. Earlie Washington, dean of WMU's College of Health and Human Services

"This is an outstanding group of people who will each be able to bring a unique set of experiences and expertise to the job of defining the role of a founding dean and identifying the qualities of a person who will help us build an outstanding medical school," says WMU President John M. Dunn.

According to the committee's chair, Luderer, who is also a medical doctor and a former Upjohn/Pharmacia clinical vice president, the committee will begin meeting this month to identify a founding dean who will be the point person to lead the medical school initiative going forward. In addition to providing new opportunities for educating new doctors to address a looming physician shortage in America, a four-year medical school in Kalamazoo also has the potential to boost economic development, and build upon Kalamazoo's heritage in the life sciences.

While the committee is still finalizing a detailed job description for a founding dean, Luderer says specific duties would cover such areas as overseeing the accreditation process, guiding curriculum development, formalizing partnerships and administrative structure, and developing plans for faculty hiring and addressing school physical space needs.

"There are a host of critical decisions to be made in the coming months and years and a ton of work to do," Luderer says. "The success of a medical school in Kalamazoo will be largely dependent on having those decisions made in a thoughtful and creative way. Success will also depend on our ability to engage physicians in the region as well as Western's faculty. The depth and breadth of our committee is designed to ensure the partners in this initiative bring their best thinking to the process and make sure the partners' individual and collective needs are at the core of how those decisions are made and how we move forward."

A school of medicine in Kalamazoo has been under discussion and in the planning stage since late 2007. The primary partners in the initiative are two world-class teaching hospitals--Borgess Health and Bronson Healthcare--and WMU, a national research university with a track record in allied health care professional education and life sciences teaching, research and commercialization.

The work to date has involved detailed studies of the community's infrastructure and capability, a needs analysis and extensive talks involving the major partners and other entities eager to be part of the initiative.

During a November 2009 meeting, the WMU Board of Trustees endorsed the steps taken to date and voiced its support for the proposal. During that meeting, Dunn announced a $1.8 million anonymous gift made to provide seed money for the next steps in the development process, including the search for a dean. Throughout the planning process, Dunn has repeatedly said that the medical school will be a privately funded entity.

In January, representatives of Borgess, Bronson and WMU, traveled to Chicago for the initial meeting with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the group that accredits medical schools in the United States and Canada.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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