Regents combine UMHS CEO, Medical School dean positions

Thursday, September 17, 2015 - 7:17pm

University President Mark Schlissel recommended Wednesday that Marschall Runge, the current executive vice president for medical affairs and CEO of the University of Michigan Health System, be additionally appointed dean of the Medical School, effective Jan. 1.

Schlissel said he hopes the appointment will facilitate joint research between the Medical School and UMHS, sparking new collaborations between medical research, education and patient care.

“I know he shares my enthusiasm for this shared alignment of all aspects of our mission and he looks forward to carrying it forward through the health system organization,” Schlissel said.

Runge’s new position as dean is part of an effort to restructure leadership at UMHS. According to Runge, UMHS has not seen the same innovation or excellence in past decade as it has in prior years.

“In many areas we continue to do well, but in others we have missed opportunities to build upon our success and on our potential,” he said.

He said for UMHS to regain its position of excellence among top medical centers, the University must hire leaders willing to take risks, make better decisions and strengthen performance in the health system and medical school.

Runge was appointed by the regents to lead UMHS in 2014. He previously served as the executive dean for the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Michael Johns, former Emory chancellor and executive vice president for health affairs, had filled the role in an interim capacity after the departure of former UMHS CEO Ora Pescovitz. She announced she her departure from the University after five years in the position.

James Woolliscroft, the school’s current dean, said in an e-mail to the Medical School Community, obtained by The Michigan Daily, that he has long advocated for combining the two roles. He said he would step down in January after serving as dean since 2007.

“By explicitly and visibly linking these pieces in our … mission of research, education and patient care in one person, we enable the seamless connection between the people and resources of the medical school and the hospitals and health centers, while creating a transparent structure for both timely action and accountability,” Schlissel said.

Regent Shauna Ryder-Diggs (D) said the integration of patient care, research and education will make UMHS a national leader in these realms.

“This merging of our responsibilities we are discussing today is the next logical step in this process,” Ryder-Diggs said.

The first new leadership position is the executive vice dean for clinical affairs at the Medical School and president of the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers and University of Michigan Medical Group.

Internal Medicine Prof. David Spahlinger, currently the senior associate dean for clinical affairs and executive director of UMMG, will take this position beginning Jan. 1.

Runge said integrating the clinical enterprise with the Medical School is part of his plan to better integrate research, patient care and education within UMHS and the Medical School.

“This will drive for greater innovation, better progress and ultimately better care for patients,” he said.

Before serving as senior associate dean, Spahlinger was chief medical resident at the University during his residency in the 1980s. In 1997, he became the first medical director of the University Faculty Group Practice when it was formed.

A senior vice president and chief operating officer of the University Hospitals and Health Centers and the University Medical Group was also appointed. T. Anthony Denton, current CEO of University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, will serve in the role. Denton will work to align medical school education and research with clinical enterprise operations.  

Denton began as an administrative fellow at UHMS in 1981 and served as CEO of UMHHC for 10 years.