All audience members in the near-full Kahn Auditorium in the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building were engaged as the University’s Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs gave her final speech Wednesday evening.

The institute held a presentation and farewell reception for Ora Pescovitz, University executive vice president for medical affairs for the last five years. She titled her presentation, “UMHStory: Strength, Strategy & Success” in honor of the characteristics she believed made the University of Michigan Health System one of the top medical institutions in the country.

As CEO of the University Health System and EVPMA, Pescovitz was responsible for the leadership of the University hospitals and health centers, medical school, services of the School of Nursing and the Michigan Health Corporation.

During her tenure, she helped develop the North Campus Research Complex into a renowned institution and helped build the C.S. Mott Children’s and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital. The medical center received its highest-ever patient satisfaction scores, the research endeavors earned $61 million in royalties and the medical school created the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion all under Pescovitz’s leadership

After receiving her M.D. from Northwestern University, Pescovitz became a distinguished pediatric endocrinologist, later being recognized as one of Modern Healthcare’s 2009 Top 25 Women in Healthcare and a nominee for their list of the “100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare.”

Pescovitz also worked as a researcher, with a portfolio of 170 published scientific papers on human growth and over 175 manuscripts on growth disorder.

Pescovitz’s presentation praised the doctors, students and patients she believed to exemplify UMHS’ excellence. She included videos of patients, researchers and medical residents to showcase their own work and laud their respective achievements.

“You drive our tripartite mission, and your potential to impact and influence the world is simply limitless,” she told the audience. “What I admire so much about this place is that we are never satisfied and we are never content. In fact, a desire to constantly improve is built into our DNA.”

Following her lecture, six of her close coworkers gave speeches in her honor, including University Regent Shauna Ryder-Diggs (D-Grosse Pointe) and James Woolliscroft, dean of the University’s medical school.

Woolliscroft, praising Pescovitz’s legacy at UMHS, touched on her efforts to partner with other health systems, her work with the Regents and executive offices and her efforts to make her job as transparent as possible by starting a blog and Twitter page.

“Her example will leave a lasting impression on all of use here,” Woolliscroft said. “And so I really think that Ora’s legacy is in the people, the impact here on each one of us.”

Pescovitz acknowledged the unique challenges the UMHS has faced over the course of her tenure, including the effects of the national healthcare reform, decreased federal funding for research, the growing competition among medical schools and the increasing difficulty for students to pay for a medical education. She said UMHS overcame these hurdles and emerged stronger due to the staff, students, faculty, trainees and volunteers that comprises the health system.

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