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ETSU med school dean to retire

Rex Barber • Jan 22, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Dr. Philip C. Bagnell, who has been medical dean at East Tennessee State University for the past seven years, announced Tuesday morning he will retire later this year to spend more time with his family in Canada.

Bagnell, who is from Nova Scotia, came to ETSU’s pediatrics department in 1991 and helped establish the pediatric residency program. He was named as the College of Medicine’s executive associate dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs in 2000 and succeeded Dr. Ronald Franks as dean of medicine in September 2006.

For 17 years before he came to ETSU, Bagnell was with the children’s hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“In the late 80s there wasn’t much growth in medical schools and new opportunities,” he said. “We had plateaued in terms of growth and development in Halifax. And growing is really fun. And this department of pediatrics here (at ETSU) was in the process of growing. And I thought it would be fun to be a part of that.”

Bagnell was happy the medical school had been able to balance a budget and deal with cutbacks throughout the recent bad economic times.

But one of the biggest accomplishments for the medical school, he said, was that the school has become very attractive to students in this region.

“The very best students in East Tennessee, they’re coming here by choice,” he said from his office Tuesday morning. They’re wonderful students. Our graduates are ranked with anyone in the country. I think that would have to stand as the accomplishment in which everybody shares but in which I’m most proud.”

The past decade or so has also been a time to do things more efficiently, Bagnell said.

And with the increasing complexity of the medical profession it became important to internally reorganize the school, he said. That effort was begun under Bagnell.

“And I think the school is organizationally in great shape to move forward,” he said.

According to the school, a national search will be initiated for Bagnell’s replacement. Bagnell will remain dean until his retirement July 31.

Asked about challenges the new dean will face, Bagnell said there are several, including changes in medical education to better prepare physicians of the future, fostering interprofessional education to involve all aspects of healthcare and being mindful of new systems of delivery for healthcare in this region.

Bagnell, 71, said he had been discussing retirement with his wife, Heather, for a few months. He said there is a time when you consider retirement. Age is one of those factors and the other is a desire to commit more time to family. He has lots of family, including children and grandchildren, living around Halifax.

Bagnell said his interest in medicine began in the 8th grade. His intention was to be a doctor, not to become a university medical dean, he said.

“I’ve loved what I’ve done as a dean but what I started out wanting to be was a physician, a practicing physician,” he said. “And it’s what I want to be remembered as.”


Below is an earlier post about Bagnell's retirement:


East Tennessee State University's medical dean has announced his intention to retire.

Dr. Phil Bagnell has been dean of the ETSU James Quillen College of Medicine for seven years.

Below is a news release from the university regarding Bagnell's retirement.

Keep checking JohnsonCityPress.com for a full story on this announcement, including an interview with Bagnell and information on how his successor will be chosen.


JOHNSON CITY – Dr. Philip C. Bagnell, dean of East Tennessee State University’s James H. Quillen College of Medicine, announced today he will retire from the medical school’s top post this summer. He plans to return to his hometown and spend more time with his family.

Bagnell will continue to serve as dean until he officially retires July 31. He has successfully led the Quillen College of Medicine the past seven years, but his service to ETSU and his influence on medical education and health care in the Tri-Cities date back two decades.

Bagnell joined the ETSU Department of Pediatrics faculty in 1991 and was instrumental in establishing a pediatric residency training program at the university that gained full accreditation in 1996. He was named as the College of Medicine’s executive associate dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs in 2000 and succeeded Dr. Ronald Franks as dean of Medicine in September 2006.

In an email Bagnell sent Tuesday morning to students, faculty and staff at the Quillen College of Medicine, he wrote that it was time to move on to the “next chapter” of his life and dedicate his time to immediate family.

Bagnell said he and his wife, Heather, have contemplated his retirement for several months. After the university’s holiday break, the Quillen dean informed Dr. Wilsie Bishop, ETSU’s vice president for Health Affairs and university chief operating officer, of his plans to retire.

“Heather and I have four children and eight grandchildren, and all live within a couple of miles of each other in Halifax,” said Bagnell, who is from Nova Scotia. “We’re looking forward to living near our children and reaping the benefits of being full-time grandparents.

“Still, I submitted my retirement letter to Wilsie with some regret. Heather and I are returning home to be with family, but we are leaving family, too. This university, the College of Medicine, and so many people in this region have become very dear to us. So even though this was the right decision, it was not an easy decision.”

Bagnell said that aside from family ties in Canada, there was another factor that informed him it was the right time to turn the page.

“The College of Medicine is in an outstanding place,” Bagnell said. “We remain clearly focused on our mission of serving rural communities. We attract students of the highest caliber, and we have superb faculty and staff. There is excellent departmental leadership in place. Our community partnerships are strong, and we have many opportunities before us to form new ones, as well.

“Our university is on firm footing, too. President Brian Noland has quickly proven he is the right person to guide ETSU into the future. And I can’t say enough about Dr. Bishop, who has been a true friend. With her leadership of the Academic Health Sciences Center, I feel certain that the College of Medicine will continue to flourish as the school nears its 40th anniversary.”

“Dr. Bagnell has dedicated almost his entire career to training new physicians and to advancing medical education,” Bishop said. “He arrived at ETSU as the Quillen College of Medicine’s first full-time pediatric gastroenterologist and quickly emerged as one of the school’s most promising leaders. Before becoming dean, he directed our pediatrics residency training program and later became executive associate dean. In that role as the medical school’s top academic officer, he created our Center for Experiential Learning and also guided the school through a successful accreditation site visit.

“As dean, Dr. Bagnell led the school and its educational programs, research operations and patient care services through a continued era of growth and expansion. He is a highly respected leader, a compassionate physician, a gifted teacher, and a true champion for medical education and interdisciplinary learning. He and Heather will be missed by this university and by this community.”

Bishop indicated that a national search will be initiated for Bagnell’s replacement.

Bagnell received his medical degree from Dalhousie University and completed his residency training at Izaak Walton Killam Hospital for Children in Halifax and the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, where he also remained for fellowship training in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition.

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