On July 7, 2010, I wrote to update you on transition plans related to Senior Vice President Frank Cerra’s announcement of his retirement from the position of senior vice president and dean effective December 31, 2010. In that letter, I also briefed you on the consistent themes heard during the broad consultation process I undertook as the necessary predicate to this complex and important leadership transition, and on the next steps to advance the process, including how I intended to identify the best possible candidate to assume the leadership of the Medical School and the health sciences at the time Dr. Cerra stepped down. On July 29, 2010, I wrote to introduce the outstanding group of individuals convened to assist me, and issued a call for nominations for the position of vice president of health sciences and dean of the Medical School. The purpose of my letter today is to share with you the name of the candidate that I will be presenting to the University’s Board of Regents for approval at its October meeting.
It is my pleasure to announce to you that I have asked Dr. Aaron Friedman to become Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the Medical School (Vice President and Dean) for a term, effective January 3, 2011, and that Dr. Friedman has accepted. Beginning October 15, and continuing through the end of December 2010, Dr. Friedman will devote half of his time to working with Dr. Cerra, myself, and others to ensure a successful transition into his new role.
I have asked Dr. Friedman to assume this position during the period that includes Dr. Cerra’s and my own transition from our respective roles, and the search for and appointment of the next President of the University of Minnesota. I fully expect and will strongly recommend that the next president of the University of Minnesota conduct a national search for this position. However, we can reasonably assume that such a search would take place at some point after the new president arrives and settles into his or her role, and given the critical need to establish stable leadership for the Medical School and the health sciences in the near term, I believe that this strategy of appointing Dr. Friedman as vice president and dean, subject to the ratification of the Board of Regents, is the best approach.
As I have communicated to you previously, as vice president and dean, Dr. Friedman will have a direct reporting relationship to the president. Consistent with the University’s collegiate reporting structure, he will also report to the senior vice president and provost for those areas of traditional collegiate academic responsibility including promotion and tenure, curricular review, accreditation, and academic policy and planning. This latter reporting relationship will also be established for the deans of the health sciences schools of nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, public health, and veterinary medicine, which is a change from the current reporting relationship of those collegiate units to Senior Vice President and Dean Frank Cerra. This change will allow the vice president and dean to focus on the Medical School, overseeing the strategic issues and challenges that will help ensure its ongoing progress and continued success. The interdisciplinary centers and operating units of the Academic Health Center will continue reporting to the vice president and dean; and he will oversee an administrative review of the AHC beginning in January 2011.
The vice president and dean will be responsible for advancing interdisciplinary and inter-professional work among the health sciences colleges and schools and other disciplines; fostering relationships such as those with University of Minnesota Physicians, Fairview Health Services, and other external relationships in the healthcare community; and advancing health care policies and clinical practices for the University, the state, and the surrounding region. Finally, the vice president and dean will serve as a member of the president’s senior academic and executive leadership teams to advance systemwide strategic academic and fiscal priorities of the University. See the complete position description online.
Throughout the fall semester, I will be working closely with Dr. Friedman, Dr. Cerra, and others to accomplish the following objectives:
- ensure a smooth transition for the positions of vice president and dean and the new head of the Department of Pediatrics;
- identify the major priorities for the vice president and dean in the first year of appointment;
- identify responsibilities that may not require the attention of the vice president and dean and that may be delegated or streamlined so that he may commit more strategic oversight to issues related to the Medical School and broader health sciences; and
- set the stage for appointing a team of academic and administrative leaders to conduct a comprehensive review of the organizational infrastructure of the Academic Health Center to begin in January 2011.
Dr. Friedman, a Ruben-Bentson Chair and Professor of Pediatrics, is the current chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School, where he has served since his arrival at the University of Minnesota in 2008. Dr. Friedman also holds a number of other appointments at the University, including membership on the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital Philanthropic Board and Executive Committee, on the Board of Directors of the University of Minnesota Physicians, and as chair of the Education Council of the Medical School. Before coming to the University of Minnesota, he was chair of the departments of pediatrics at Brown Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island (2004-2008), and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1996-2004). While at Wisconsin, Dr. Friedman also chaired the University Committee, the primary all-University faculty governance committee.
In addition to his role as chair of the Department of Pediatrics, Dr. Friedman is currently the Pediatrician-in-Chief at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital, a role he previously held at the Hasbro Children’s Hospital/Rhode Island Hospital. He and I have discussed these roles, and Dr. Friedman is committed to ensuring a smooth transition for his successor in these critical leadership positions. I have every confidence that we will be able to build on the solid foundation that Dr. Friedman and other leaders have already established.
Dr. Friedman also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Board of Pediatrics, including leadership positions as secretary/treasurer (2006), chair elect (2007), and chair (2008). Dr. Friedman also served as chair of the Pediatric Leadership Alliance working group through the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) (1997-2004), and as chair of the AAP Committee on Pediatric Workforce (2006-2007). Dr. Friedman’s research and scholarly work have centered on amino acid transport and factors influencing growth in chronic renal failure, and he serves as chair of a steering committee for an NIH-sponsored clinical trial in pediatric nephrology. He is the 2010 recipient of the Henry Barnett Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics Nephrology Section for his contributions to children with kidney disease and to the pediatric nephrology community.
Dr. Friedman’s background reflects an extensive record of successful administrative experience in large, complex organizations and a broad range of experience in, and knowledge of, the academic health sciences, health professions, health care systems (including specialty and clinical care), and the health care marketplace, as well as related challenges and opportunities in the state of Minnesota. I chose Dr. Friedman because he is an entrepreneurial and visionary change agent skilled at building effective working relationships and inspiring a unified vision to accomplish shared goals. These qualifications, as well as his personal integrity, high energy, and ability to work across academic and organizational boundaries, made him the ideal candidate for this position. I am confident that Dr. Friedman will play a critical role in building on the solid foundation of excellence that supports the University of Minnesota Medical School and the University’s comprehensive and outstanding health sciences schools. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Friedman in his appointment to this new leadership role. We both look forward to your ongoing support and engagement with Dr. Friedman as he assumes his new responsibilities, pending the approval of the Board of Regents in October.
This announcement marks a significant milestone in this complex transition of leadership at the University. I will continue to provide updates and more information about related transition issues and this position as we move forward. This is also a time to celebrate the extraordinary transformative leadership of Dr. Frank Cerra. At the end of this calendar year, Dr. Cerra will have completed approximately two decades of leadership in the Medical School and health sciences at the University of Minnesota. He will leave a lasting legacy of reform and achievement in the health sciences during a period of immense turbulence and challenge. Dr. Cerra will continue as senior vice president and dean until the end of December 2010; his leadership on the issues facing the Medical School and the health sciences and his participation in the transition to new leadership will be invaluable.
Thank you again for your engagement and for your support of the University of Minnesota. I have been impressed and pleased with the deep and rich dialogue, and the passionate views expressed, all in support of what is best for our great University, its Medical School, and the academic health sciences. It is in this way, working together for a greater shared goal, that we will achieve our aspirations.
Robert H. Bruininks
This message was sent by the President of the University of Minnesota to Academic Health Center faculty and staff, the Administrative Email Lists (AEL), and the Board of Regents.