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Vital Signs

The search for a new Medical School dean gets off the ground

By Jennifer Durgin

An international airport is a fitting location for the first round of interviews in the search for Dartmouth Medical School's next dean. The search, which got underway in early 2010, will be global and swift—with the top three candidates selected by June 2010. Initial interviews are slated for April and are planned to occur over the course of a few days near Boston's Logan International Airport. That choice was made largely for the sake of convenience, but the symbolism, given the increasing interest in international medicine, is also appropriate. Second-round candidates will visit Dartmouth beginning in late May.

Post: DMS's current dean, William Green, Ph.D., was appointed in January 2008 with the expectation that he would return to his former position as chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Green agreed to assume the post when former DMS Dean Stephen Spielberg, M.D., Ph.D., stepped down from the deanship to pursue international health initiatives and advances in therapeutics for children. Dartmouth College's president, Jim Yong Kim, M.D., Ph.D., hopes that the new DMS dean can be in place early in the 2010-11 academic year.

The timeline for the search, though ambitious, is achievable, the search committee members believe. They are meeting frequently and conducting a thorough search. "[It's] absolutely an open playing field," says committee member E. Dale Collins, M.D., a professor of surgery and director of the Center for Informed Choice at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

Process: To help with the process of finding DMS's next leader, the search committee is working with Warren Ross, M.D., of the Korn/Ferry search firm. Ross is a former dean of Drexel School of Medicine and has significant experience in high-level searches within academic medicine, according to Alan I. Green, M.D., chair of the search committee and of the Department of Psychiatry.

In addition to Alan Green, the committee consists of five faculty members; three administrators; and two DMS students—Tina Chang, a student in the Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine, and Meredith Bartelstein, a second-year medical student.

Voice: "Meredith and I will be the voice of all medical students and graduate students who are enrolled under the DMS umbrella," says Chang. "The entire committee has also made it clear that student opinions are just as important, and that Meredith and I are full voting members of the committee. To have this amount of support for students . . . makes me confident that the search will culminate in the selection of a DMS dean that will best fit the needs of both faculty and students."

Having students on the committee is "in the tradition of Dartmouth," says Alan Green. Bartelstein and Chang hosted a forum for their peers to share their ideas about what characteristics the committee should be seeking. The committee hosted forums where faculty and staff could provide input, too, and Alan Green has encouraged people to contact him directly by phone and e-mail to offer their suggestions and to ask questions about the search process.

Members: The other members of the search committee are Charles Barlowe, Ph.D., chair of biochemistry; Ethan Dmitrovsky, M.D., a professor of pharmacology and toxicology and of medicine and former acting dean of DMS; Nancy Formella, M.S.N., president of Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital; Thomas Parrino, M.D., chief of staff of the Dartmouth-affiliated VA Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt.; Keith Paulsen, Ph.D., a professor of engineering and of radiology; Catherine Pipas, M.D., vice chair of community and family medicine and assistant dean of medical education; and Martin Wybourne, Ph.D., D.Sc., vice provost for research.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to select an outstanding person for this position," says Alan Green. "When I came here seven years ago," he recalls, "I thought of this place as a rocket ready to take off, and I wanted to catch a ride."

That's the kind of enthusiasm the committee is looking for in candidates, in addition to the right blend of credentials, experience, and character.

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