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Advisory committee announced for UMHS CEO search

By Sam Gringlas, Daily News Editor
Published May 16, 2014

A day after the University’s Board of Regents honored Ora Pescovitz, the outgoing CEO of the University of Michigan Health System and the executive vice president for medical affairs, at their monthly meeting, the University announced the creation of a search committee to find her successor.

The 13-member committee will be lead by Dr. Paul Lee, director of the Kellogg Eye Center and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science. The committee is composed of six professors, various hospital administrators, Martin Philbert, dean of the School of Public Health, and Cynthia Wilbanks, the University’s vice president for government relations.

Michael Johns, a former Emory chancellor and executive vice president for health affairs, will also serve on the committee. Johns, an alumnus of the University’s Medical School, will assume the position of interim vice president for medical affairs and CEO of UMHS effective June 2.

The University has sought the assistance of an outside consulting firm, Russell Reynolds Associates, to lead the search process. Ilene Nagel, who also led the search that ultimately recommended the appointment of University President-elect Mark Schlissel and heads the firm’s education portfolio, will act as lead partner in the search.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the Russell Reynolds flat fee totals $300,000 plus expenses. That cost is comparable to the expenses accrued in the presidential search process that concluded in January. Those costs totaled about $350,000.

University President Mary Sue Coleman and President-elect Schlissel have charged the advisory committee with fulfilling a set of search benchmarks, according to the Office of the President website.

Those goals include building a pool of external and internal candidates, making a “concerted effort” to develop as diverse a pool as possible, conducting preliminary interviews and advising the president on a set of recommended candidates.

The University’s Board of Regents will approve the final appointment, though Fitzgerald said there is no set timeline for completing the process. And while the search is commencing under Coleman’s tenure, Schlissel will conclude the process and oversee the final appointment.

When the University’s choice is announced, the appointee will face an array of challenges, including declining federal research funding, adjustment to the Affordable Care Act and transition efforts associated with the recent absorption of Jackson-based Allegiance Health.

In a January trip to New York City, the regents met with Johns and Edward Miller, retired executive vice president for medical affairs at Johns Hopkins University, for a session on University health systems.

In a January interview with The Michigan Daily, Regents chair Andrea Fischer Newman (R) said the session was the “best” of the trip and noted that the University is interested in alliances with other hospitals.

Pescovitz announced her departure in March after serving one five-year term. In April, it was reported that Pescovitz was a finalist for a position at a South Carolina medical school. However, she was not selected.

Friday’s search committee announcement noted that Pescovitz “did not seek reappointment to the position.”


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