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National search being conducted for ETSU medical, clinical rehab deans

Rex Barber • Aug 9, 2013 at 4:24 PM

There are currently openings at East Tennessee State University for two key health sciences positions.

Wilsie Bishop, ETSU’s vice president for health affairs and university chief operating officer, said she hopes interviews for the deans of medicine and clinical and rehabilitative health sciences can be conducted by October.

Dr. Philip C. Bagnell, who had been dean of the ETSU James H. Quillen College of Medicine since September 2006, stepped down from that job at the end of July. He will remain here for a few months at his old job in the department of pediatrics before returning to his home in Nova Scotia, Canada.

“He’s had a distinguished career with us and we are certainly going to miss him,” Bishop said. “I’ve enjoyed working with him.”

The City Commission on Thursday will be give a proclamation in Bagnell’s honor. The Tennessee General Assembly also gave him a proclamation earlier this year.

Bagnell announced his retirement in January and a soon thereafter a search committee was formed to work on finding his successor. The chairman of this search committee is Randy Wykoff, dean of the College of Public Health. Staff and faculty at the College of Medicine and other health sciences colleges are on the committee, as are students and residents.

“So we have tried to make it a representative search committee,” Bishop said.

ETSU is working with the search firm The Toberson Group from St. Louis to identify candidates for the dean positions. This firm is not running the search, though.

“They have been extremely helpful in identifying candidates for us,” Bishop said.

Bishop said there are currently 17 applicants for the job of medical school dean. These applicants were described by Bishop as a strong group of individuals from across the country who recognize ETSU’s name and are interested in what the school is doing with regards to medical education.

“I chaired the last two searches (for medical deans) and these are more applicants than we’ve had in the past,” Bishop said. “Just in my quick review of them it looks like there’s a lot of depth to the pool.”

The committee will select four or five applicants for interviews. That list of candidates will be sent to the Tennessee Board of Regents for approval and certification within the next month or so.

Interviews could be conducted as early as October.

“I hope we’ll be able to name a replacement for Dr. Bagnell by the end of this semester,” Bishop said.

It could be the spring of next year before the seventh medical school dean is installed, though.

In the mean time, Ken Olive, associate dean for academic affairs, is serving as interim medical dean. He is not in the running for medical dean and will resume his role as associate dean after a candidate has been chosen.

Asked what qualities a medical dean should have, Bishop said it was important to have someone who values ETSU’s role in primary care and rural care and who also understands the importance of working with the other health sciences colleges.

“I want somebody who is current with medical curriculum and how you prepare young people to be health care professionals in the future,” she said.

Salary for the new dean would be the Association of American Medical Colleges’ median pay for medical school deans in southern schools. Pay will be negotiated and often is dependent upon experience and medical specialty of the candidate.

AAMC data shows the median salary for medical school deans only, meaning operating a medical school is the only duty, during 2010-11 was $435,000. This is the latest figure.

Nancy Scherer was dean of the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences and went to Arizona State University at end of June. She was the first dean of this college and helped form this college a few years back.

“Nancy was really interested in getting back in her discipline,” Bishop said. “She’s internationally known for her work in cleft lip and cleft palette.”

Scherer is now chairwoman of the speech language pathology department at Arizona State. This is the largest such department in the nation.

Dr. Don Samples is interim clinical and rehabilitative dean. Nursing Dean Wendy Nehring is chairwoman of the committee charged with selecting Scherer’s successor.

Both search committees are close to same schedule and must follow similar procedures in selecting their respective deans.

“We’re really about the same stage for both of them,” Bishop said. “I expect we’ll be interviewing candidates for deans of both schools by October.”

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