Archive for Friday, November 11, 2011

KU medical school executive announces plan to retire

November 11, 2011


Barbara Atkinson, who serves as executive dean of Kansas University’s School of Medicine and as executive vice chancellor of KU Medical Center, has announced her intention to step down from those roles.

“As we complete the finishing touches to our yearlong strategic planning process, the chancellor and I have agreed that I will step down as dean of the School of Medicine,” Atkinson wrote in a message to faculty and staff Thursday. “In an effort to provide a seamless transition and a thoughtful succession plan, I have agreed to serve as the (executive vice chancellor) for another two years until December 2013. The process for selecting the new dean will begin immediately.”

As executive vice chancellor, Atkinson oversaw all of the schools housed at KU Medical Center, including the School of Medicine, the School of Health Professions (formerly known as the School of Allied Health) and the School of Nursing, in addition to her role as dean of the medical school. Plans are under way at the Med Center to add a new School of Public Health.

“I just had another birthday, so it was time to think about a transition,” said Atkinson, who is 69.

She will remain in both roles until a new dean of the medical school is selected. KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said a search committee is being formed to find a new dean, and she said she hoped to fill the position by next summer. She added that a search for a new executive vice chancellor for the Medical Center will begin in about a year.

Atkinson said that both she and Gray-Little would be involved in the hiring of the new dean — “it has to be the both of us,” Atkinson said.

Gray-Little said she and Atkinson had been in discussions about a plan to separate the two positions, and the discussion of the timetable for Atkinson’s retirement came up more recently.

“I think it would be very hard for someone to just step into both roles,” Atkinson said. “They are two very big jobs.”

Gray-Little said she was impressed with the things Atkinson has been able to accomplish during her tenure at KU Medical Center, including providing resources for National Cancer Institute designation, increasing the level of federally funded research on campus, leading changes to the medical curriculum and making improvements to facilities on the campus.

“She’s accomplished a great deal, and I think the Medical Center is far ahead of where it was when she came there,” Gray-Little said.

Atkinson said she was also pleased to lead the expansion of medical school education in Wichita and Salina.

Atkinson joined the KU medical school in 2000 to lead the department of pathology and laboratory medicine. She was named executive dean of the medical school in 2002, and has led the campuses in Wichita and Kansas City since then. She added the executive vice chancellor role in 2005.

“That’s a pretty long time for someone to serve in those two roles,” Gray-Little said.

The decision to separate Atkinson’s two roles also means that the university will get another seat on the KU Hospital Authority Board, as the hospital’s bylaws provide for seats for both the executive vice chancellor and the dean of the medical school. Once a new dean is named, that person will also become a voting member of the board, along with the executive vice chancellor’s position.

Both Gray-Little and Atkinson said the transition should not have a significant impact on KU’s ongoing efforts to achieve National Cancer Institute designation.

“I think that it should not affect it at all,” Gray-Little said.

If KU hears whether its application had been approved by next summer as it expects to, Atkinson will have remained on during the entire time, Gray-Little said, especially during an upcoming site visit and review by the NCI scheduled for February.

There is still work to be done, both Gray-Little and Atkinson said. In her message to faculty and staff, Atkinson outlined four measures that she would be working on during the remainder of her term as executive vice chancellor: achieving NCI designation, opening the new public health school, expanding the class size of the Kansas City medical school by 50 students, and strengthening KUMC’s ties to Wyandotte County and improving the health of the community.

“I’ve got the next two years to work on my next top priorities,” Atkinson said. “Then after that, I’m going to retire.”


KUfan1990 6 years, 4 months ago

I am thankful the chancellor has recognized the cause of the sepsis in the body of KU Medical Center, but delaying surgery for two years doesn't give way to a positive prognosis. Is the chancellor allowing Atkinson time to continue her revenge against those who have risked their careers to speak the truth? As a Veteran's Day comparison, let's recognize those people who are the backbone of KU. Those who may not have risked their lives as our honored veterans, but have risked their livelihoods, reputations, and careers to speak the truth about Dr. Atkinson's leadership.

byebyeAtkinson 6 years, 4 months ago

As noted in the article by Andy Hyland, "Atkinson said that both she and Gray-Little would be involved in hiring the new dean -- "it has to be the both of us." While it is apparent that Atkinson has been "fired", she still thinks she is in charge. Atkinson's inability to make good decisions is the reason why she had a shockingly bad review and was fired. There is no evidence that the ability of people to make good decisions markedly improves after 69 years of age. One needs to select a new EVC first, then the Dean, and then the Department Chairs. What excellent person would take a position if you don't know who your boss will be? It would not be difficult to find an interim EVC and an interim Dean for KUMC. Atkinson has to leave KUMC immediately for the good of humanity the State of Kansas, and the faculty and students at KUMC.

firstjayhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

Barbara Atkinson is just a terrible leader and she represents the biggest failure in the history of KUMC leadership. Her recent "administrative actions", based purely on her personal revenge and other dark characters of her mind, clearly demonstrates that she should leave KUMC. Not only should she step down from the position as Dean of SOM, but also she should be fired from the position as EVC too. It is not professional to allow her to participate in any further administrative decisions, because it is the people's opinion (please refer to her review) that she has serious issues in these aspects, including destroying the infrastructure of research and destroying excellent professors and other scholars at KUMC out of her personal unspeakable reasons. Why should she continue making decisions when she is not supposed to? She should just go, for the sake of the goodness of our entire institution. She has created enough damages. And these damages must be reversed now. Barbara Atkinson should step down from EVC and leave KUMC immediately.

ExcellenceKU 6 years, 4 months ago

Barbara Atkinson should not be allowed to participate in any further administrative decisions. It has recently came to my attention that she abused her power to get rid of university distinguished professor Curtis Klaassen (who has my full respect in his research ethics and integrity) by armed policemen! This is completely crazy and is damaging both the research and people at KUMC. Does she even care about the education of a lot of the graduate students in the Klaassen lab? No no no. Atkinson is so terrible in this regard. She should separate personal revenge from professional performance. Apparently she couldn't. She needs to speak to a psychiatrist, and the damage that she created needs to be repaired immediately, or else KUMC will become the laughing stick for the public.

EmilyKUMC 6 years, 4 months ago

I also strongly support to remove Barbara Atkinson from EVC as soon as possible. Her dictative, destructive, and unreasonable leadership has damaged so many people, and more importantly, she also destroyed the reputation of our institution. Many excellent professors, represented by Curtis Klaassen and others, have spoken up bravely on behalf of the benefit of research and education at KUMC. Apparently, not only did people's opinions get simply ignored by Barbara Atkinson, the worst feature of Atkinson was that she took the scientists' professional advice persoally, and performed a serious of ridiculous persecutions to destroy people who speak the truth. Now that she appears to be gone from dean of SOM, apparently she still has the actual power to continue destroying the university and professors at KUMC. Her power abuse must be terminated now, and she must apologize to all the professors and their students whom she has harrassed and/or destroyed. If we continue allowing her personal malicious revenge to spread over KUMC, there is no hope for the change for excellence at our institution. Barbara Atkinson should just go home, not till 2013, but now.

OlayKU 6 years, 4 months ago

I think Barbara Atkinson should be replaced. It is so easy to find a better EVC---a lot of people in the administrative office of KUMC has better work ethics than she does. I feel so sorry for the professors and students that Atkinson has destroyed, and I call for justice and request the assistance from righteous administrators to help these people get back to normal life and work soon. Now it is time for an outstanding administrator to step up and save the people and our institution. Damage control immediately please.

crystall 6 years, 4 months ago

I totally agree that Barbara Atkinson should go away completely from KUMC, and she should no longer influence the development of our institution any more. Having her stay for another two years will defintely cause more problems. She should just go home. Speaking of human right violation and racial discrimination, the university should not let her get around with it by retiring. Her mistakes have to be corrrected, and she has to pay for what she did before she retires.

CTPharm 6 years, 4 months ago

I am really sick of Barbara Atkinson's racial discrimination and human right violation. I and a few colleagues at KUMC are seriously considering filing a complaint to the congress and NIH and report about her unethical actions. I am surprised that she still is the E.V.C. This is a very bad decision of the administration.

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