As Kansas University Medical Center goes into the next year with several priorities to help further its research and teaching missions, at the top of the list is a search for new leadership in two top positions.
In April, Barbara Atkinson announced she would step down in June from her two roles as executive vice chancellor of KU Medical Center and as executive dean of the KU School of Medicine.
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little had already announced her intention to split those two roles in the future. The executive vice chancellor reports directly to Gray-Little and oversees the entire medical center. The executive dean has responsibility for the medical school campuses in Kansas City, Wichita and Salina.
Steven Stites, chairman of the internal medicine department, is serving in both roles on an interim basis until a permanent person is identified. He said identifying a permanent successor is KUMC’s top priority for the coming year.
“Obviously, that has tremendous ramifications for the school,” Stites said.
Edward Ellerbeck, chairman of preventive medicine and public health at KUMC, is serving as the chairman of the committee tasked with finding a new executive vice chancellor.
In early July, he said the search was proceeding well, and candidates were beginning to make their way to campus for initial interviews, or “36-hour visits,” as Ellerbeck called them.
He said the first crop of candidates were “highly viable,” and included both internal and external candidates.
The field would eventually be winnowed down to no more than three candidates, who would come to the KUMC campus for public interviews. Those candidates would then be forwarded to the chancellor for a final decision.
“The goal is to have someone named by the fall,” Gray-Little said in early July. “Whether that person could arrive on campus or not by then is another question.”
While the position description doesn’t specifically call for the executive vice chancellor to be a medical doctor, Ellerbeck said all the candidates still in the running in early July had M.D. degrees.
Some candidates were sitting deans at other schools, and most had served at least as chairman of a department in clinical and research roles, he said.
After an executive vice chancellor is found, that person will initiate a search for the medical school’s next executive dean. A separate search committee will be tasked with finding those candidates, Ellerbeck said.
Ellerbeck said KUMC has already celebrated a number of successes in recent months, and the new leadership candidates will be counted on to maintain the recent track record for the school.
“We need to keep the train moving in the right direction,” Ellerbeck said.