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Meet the U's new VP for health sciences and Medical School dean

Aaron Friedman, M.D. (Photo: Scott Streble)

When Aaron Friedman, M.D., took the reins of health sciences at the University of Minnesota in January, he knew his job wouldn’t be easy. In addition to getting a new president in July, the University is facing deep cuts in support from the state this year — as deep as 15 to 20 percent — on top of the $111.5 million in state reductions that have already been made in the last two years.

It’s a daunting prospect. But Friedman, who came to the University in 2008 to serve as Department of Pediatrics chairman, is now both vice president for health sciences and dean of the Medical School and says he’s ready for the challenge. We asked Friedman after his first few months on the job what he sees as emerging priorities for the Medical School.

We have several, but one of the most pressing is to effectively advocate for the Medical School at the state Legislature. In a state facing a $5 billion deficit, it’s critical that we help legislators understand the value our programs add to the state: we are researching the newest treatments and cures, educating the next generation of physicians and scientists, and providing first-rate care for patients.

There is a remarkable amount of talent and resources at a faculty and staff level. This place has a wonderful track record and a great legacy as a university and as a medical school.

Our medical school is committed to making the best of the situation and coming out stronger at the end of this fiscal uncertainty. I’m grateful that it’s a sense most people have — keeping us strong and making us even stronger when this is over.

At the same time, we are hard at work preparing for our Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) reaccreditation visit next spring. Gaining reaccreditation is always a big task, but it is crucial to our ability to continue attracting world-class students and delivering a world-class education. The visit will require all of us — faculty, staff, and students — to work together, and I believe we’re up to the task.

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