University President Mary Sue Coleman announced today the formation of a search committee to find a replacement for Robert Kelch, the University’s executive vice president for medical affairs, whose appointment ends in Sept. 2009.

Kelch, who oversees the University’s Medical School, the University hospitals and health centers and the School of Nursing, has been the University’s highest-paid employee for three consecutive years with a base salary of $663,479.

Kelch was first selected to serve a five-year term as executive vice president starting in September 2003, but Coleman asked Kelch last year to extend his contract another year to Sept. 2009 before retiring.

According to a statement released by University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham, “Coleman’s charge to the committee includes identifying and recruiting a pool of highly qualified candidates, conducting preliminary interviews and recommending finalists to the president.”

The 13-member search committee, to be chaired by University Provost Teresa Sullivan, consists of several faculty members, University officials and other executives from the Ann Arbor community.

The committee will also include Kathleen Potempa, the Dean of the School of Nursing, Charles Smith, chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs and Michael Finney, the president and CEO of Ann Arbor Spark, an organization that promotes the economic development of innovation-based businesses in the Ann Arbor area.

University Health System spokeswoman Kallie Michels said didn’t think the search committee has met yet to discuss its plans for the search.

The committee will be responsible for conducting a nationwide search and building a pool of qualified candidates that meets federal and institutional affirmation action goals, the Office of the President’s website says.

They will also be “reviewing the candidate pool, conducting preliminary interviews and advising the President of a final set of recommended candidates for her consideration.”

The three University organizations Kelch heads account for nearly half of the University’s budget and more than half of its faculty and staff.

They make up more than 40 percent of the University’s annual research expenditures.

The press release highlights Kelch’s accomplishments in office such as the opening of the Biomedical Science Research Building and the Cardiovascular Center clinical building.

He played a role in plans for the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Women’s Hospital, as well as an expansion of the Kellogg Eye Center.

The press release also outlines the more than $150 million in gifts given to the Health System under Kelch’s leadership, including a $50 million gift for the Cardiovascular Center.

So far, though, Kelch has been relatively quiet about his retirement plans.

Michels said Kelch has not started talking about his retirement because he’ll still have the job for more than a year.

She said he plans to meet with University officials today about his plans for retirement.

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