Corrigan becomes VP, dean search begins

June 29, 2000

Judith Zwolak

The search is on for two deans on Tulane's downtown campus. On the first of this month, James Corrigan leaves his position as dean of the Tulane School of Medicine to become vice president of the Tulane University Health Sciences Center (see sidebar for information on the medical center's name change).

The search for his replacement takes place at the same time the university is looking for a new dean of the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Paul Whelton, senior vice president for the health sciences, held the public health deans position until last fall. In the newly created vice presidents position, Corrigan's duties will be wide-ranging, says Whelton.

"We've kept the portfolio fairly flexible so that he can be responsive in quite different areas," he says. "I'm looking to Jim to be a colleague, a senior mentor and someone who can help me in a few areas."

For his part, Corrigan says the new position will allow him to extend his activities beyond the medical school into the entire health sciences center. One of his chief priorities will be faculty development at the medical school, public health school and the Tulane Regional Primate Research Center. He also will work to better integrate the primate center into the university as well as oversee space allocations throughout the health sciences center.

"Another area is to work with the Veterans Affairs medical center on institutional agreements in research and intellectual properties," Corrigan says. "I'll also help the senior vice president implement the strategic plan."

Whelton praised Corrigan for his accomplishments during his eight-year tenure as dean, particularly the recruitment of seven department chairs and five directors of the medical center's centers of excellence.

"I think he has had spectacular accomplishments in the educational mission," Whelton adds. "He's brought into place a number of things that are considered to be national models of excellence. He introduced the core curriculum for our residents. And then he started our most recent department, the department of family and community medicine."

An 18-member committee chaired by Lee Hamm, professor of medicine-nephrology, will begin the search for a new dean this summer. Starting this month, Whelton will serve as interim dean of the school until the position is filled. In searching for a new dean, Whelton says he will charge the committee to look for candidates with experience in the health sciences as well as substantial business acumen.

"They need to be intimately familiar with the clinical mission, the research mission and the teaching mission of an academic medical center," he says. "They need to be able to run a business, because we are now a very complicated business. Medicine is one of the most complicated components of an academic business unit."

The School of Medicine has more than 450 full-time faculty members, 600 medical students, 150 graduate students and 500 residents. The school's annual budget is $170 million.

Representing the school in the community and to federal and foundation funding sources, corporations and alumni also constitutes a major part of the dean's responsibilities, Whelton says. "We want somebody who is able to work well with the diverse elements that can help the School of Medicine," he says.

The search should take between six and 12 months, Whelton adds. "It's a tough time to get people to be deans right now," he says. "By the same token, I think there are plenty of very good people who are interested in that kind of position. If you're interested in nurturing and building and influencing policy to have impact, there are few better jobs."

The medical school dean's search joins the search already under way for a new dean of the public health school, where Ann Anderson has served as acting dean since last fall. Once the health sciences center fills the two dean positions, Whelton says he believes the center will progress through the challenges ahead.

"We have good continuity and good active leadership in place," Whelton says. "But we have the excitement of bringing in a fresh team. If we can pull that off and get people in place, it's going to help the health sciences move at a very fast clip over the next decade."

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