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Dr. Frank Cerra Announces Retirement

February 24, 2010

Dear Colleagues:

I am writing today because our long time leader and colleague, Senior Vice President and Dean Dr. Frank Cerra, has informed me that he plans to retire from his position effective December 31, 2010.

In late 2008, Dr. Cerra agreed at my request to extend his appointment by nearly six months when I announced the consolidation of leadership and offices of the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and the Dean of the Medical School. I know that you all join me in recognizing Dr. Cerra's unparalleled leadership and outstanding and long lasting contributions to the University of Minnesota, the Academic Health Center, and to health education, research, outreach, and clinical care. While I wish him all the best in his next pursuits, his stepping down from his current role will have a tremendous impact on many aspects of the University and its wider community. Dr. Cerra will continue as senior vice president and dean throughout this calendar year, and is committed to working closely with me and other leaders to ensure a smooth transition in this key leadership position and maintaining the excellence in health sciences that he has devoted his career to achieve.

Clearly, a transition of this nature will require a thorough and thoughtful search for the next leader of the University's academic health sciences. The University's Medical School and the other health sciences schools together drive a significant portion of our teaching, research, and public engagement mission, and will continue to play a vital role in shaping health care policy and delivery for the state of Minnesota and the surrounding region. The continuously changing landscape in which we deliver on our mission requires us to search for a leader who will maintain and build on the University's many achievements in this area and who will work to ensure that our health sciences remain strong, vital, and effective.

There are many issues to consider as we approach this transition. Briefly, these include the ongoing strength and vitality of the University's Medical School, the University's role as the primary supplier of well educated and trained health professionals for the state of Minnesota, the University's role as a distinguished health research organization, the organizational structure that supports the mission of the Medical School and the other health sciences schools in the new normal of fiscal constraint and budget challenges, and the ideal mix of qualities and experience we will need to fulfill this role. In my judgment, this is a process that will greatly benefit from broad consultation. Given the complexity of this search, and its importance to the University, I wanted to provide you with a brief introduction as to how I intend to proceed.

To begin, we have decided to obtain the services of Susan Gebelein of Savannah Consulting to help gather input from the University's key governance groups and campus leaders, as well as important external community partners and friends, on the critical issues and questions presented by this search. These will largely be personal, focused interviews with a broad representative sampling, and the results will help inform the composition of the search committee, the completion of the position description, and the overall structure of the search process.

Susan Gebelein is well known in the University of Minnesota community from her more than 25 years of consulting experience with Personnel Decisions International (PDI), where she served as an executive vice president, and through a number of projects she has undertaken previously. I am confident that her experience and knowledge of the University will serve us well in this endeavor. We have used a process similar to this with great success for other high-level leadership searches, including, most recently, the process currently underway in Duluth to select a new chancellor. The brief additional time it adds to the overall process is more than made up for by the insight and knowledge we gain from the many stakeholders we will be able to consult.

This consultative process will begin immediately and I expect it to be completed by early April. During this same time, I plan to also personally consult with the primary governance groups and leaders in the Medical School, the Academic Health Center, and the University of Minnesota Physicians, as well as leaders of key external organizations, including health systems, the Minnesota Medical Foundation, the Medical School Board of Visitors, and other healthcare policy and delivery groups. While we look forward to a robust consultative interview process and to the insights this will provide, we will simply not be able to interview everyone. I do, however, want to hear from all who are interested in this process and who have suggestions or assistance to offer. To that end, please send your comments to ahctrans@umn.edu by April 1, 2010, and they will be included in the compilation of ideas and recommendations.

I am confident that we are well positioned to launch this important search in a comprehensive and thoughtful manner, beginning with this broad consultation with interested stakeholders. I believe we are in a strong, competitive position, and am grateful to Dr. Cerra for the ample lead-time he has provided the University to complete this search and allow for a smooth transition. Following this consultation phase, I will be back in touch with you to outline the specifics for next steps in the process.

Thank you as always for your good work and efforts on the University's behalf. I look forward to speaking with many of you in the coming months about the future of the Medical School and academic health sciences at the University of Minnesota.


Robert H. Bruininks

Robert H. Bruininks

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