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Med school dean candidates visit WMU

July 16, 2010

KALAMAZOO--The search for a founding dean of a medical school at Western Michigan University moves into its second phase this month, as candidates screened by the search committee are invited to town for informal interviews and a look at the community's resources.

Meanwhile the development of the school that is a collaborative effort involving WMU, Borgess Health and Bronson Healthcare Group is continuing, with new working groups being formed to tackle issues like communications, curriculum and facilities.

The position of founding dean for the school, which has been the subject of a search since late February, has proven extraordinarily attractive to candidates from around the nation, says Dr. Jack Luderer, interim dean of the new school and chair of the search committee. The seven-member search committee, which includes communitywide representation, has been sorting through the credentials and backgrounds of more than 60 candidates who are interested in the position. Preliminary screening has narrowed the number of candidates for a first round of private visits to the community that will take place over the coming weeks.

"We went into the search expecting to see the names of 15-20 good candidates surface," Luderer says. "But the caliber of both the community and the partners in the enterprise as well as the description of the position itself have resulted in a far larger pool of outstanding professionals. This will take a bit longer than originally anticipated, and our focus will continue to be on finding the right match. Judging from the outstanding candidates in the mix, though, I have great confidence that we'll be successful."

The search remains at a confidential stage, Luderer says, so no public schedule of visits will be announced or identities of the visiting candidates disseminated. However, he says, late in the summer or early fall, the committee expects to narrow the field of candidates and bring several finalists back to town for a round of interviews and public presentations.

Progress on other fronts for the founding of a medical school continues, as an early organizational structure is formalized and working committees formed. A steering committee has been meeting regularly. It consists of Luderer and the three founding organizations' leaders--WMU President John M. Dunn, Borgess President and CEO Paul A. Spaude and Bronson President and CEO Frank Sardone. In addition to the search committee, there is a new communications committee charged with building awareness and communicating about the initiative. In mid July, a committee to focus on facilities will be launched, and soon after, a curriculum will be formed. The goal is to have both committees in place so that they are ready to move quickly once the founding dean is on board.

A school of medicine in Kalamazoo has been under discussion and in the planning stage since late 2007. During a November 2009 meeting, the WMU Board of Trustees endorsed the steps taken to date and voiced its support for the proposal. During that meeting, Dunn announced a $1.8 million anonymous gift made to provide seed money for the next steps in the development process, including the search for a dean.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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