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UI may name new VP Monday

Brian Morelli

Iowa City Press-Citizen

January 6, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Press-Citizen, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Iowa City Press-Citizen.]

The University of Iowa vice president for health care position could be reinstated and filled by next week.

UI interim president Gary Fethke has called a special meeting Monday with the University Hospital management staff to discuss "future initiatives," according to an e-mail to the management staff.

"They are going to discuss the organizational structure of University Hospitals and the (Carver) College of Medicine," UI Staff Council president Mary Greer said. "I assume they are going to name a vice president of health sciences.

"I have heard that it will be an internal candidate. I wouldn't be surprised if it will be Dr. (Jean) Robillard."

Robillard, dean of the Carver College of Medicine, and Jim Merchant, dean of the College of Public Health, have been associated with the position, Greer said.

The vice president position is not new. It was last held by Robert Kelch, who left in 2003 for the University of Michigan.

Reinstating the position has been being discussed since August 2006 and became public in November when Gov. Tom Vilsack suggested the vice president's position as a way to move forward with the UI presidential search.

Iowa City Regent Bob Downer said he expected a fleshed out version of the duties and structure of the position will come to the regents before it was filled.

Previously, all health science deans reported to the vice president of Health Sciences, but the new position, yet to be titled, will focus on overseeing health care and not educational components.

"I don't want the structure to be rushed because this has been tried here three times and discontinued three times. I think it is extremely important that it be gotten right," Downer said.

Downer, who also chairs the regent's hospital oversight committee, said the position likely will have a sunset so the new UI president will be able decide if he or she thinks it is necessary.

Downer doesn't see the timeline for reinstating the vice president as having a bearing on the president search; instead, it has its own merit.

"Where you have physicians delivering care, you need to see how to integrate best across the enterprise," Downer said.

Fethke has said he is excited about the position and sees it as a way of making University Hospitals more effective and competitive, particularly in the arena of patient care and patient satisfaction.

He would not confirm what will happen at the Monday meeting or when the position will be filled.