Eric Wang

On Monday, University President Peter Salovey announced the formation of a committee responsible for soliciting feedback from faculty members, students and staff and advising him on the search for a new School of Medicine dean.

In an email to the School of Medicine community, Salovey said that Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Lynn Cooley will chair the 20-person committee. Committee members include President and CEO of Yale New Haven Health System Marna Borgstrom and professors at the School of Medicine, School of Public Health, School of Nursing and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, per the University website. School of Medicine students and faculty members can recommend the qualities and qualifications of applicants that should be considered in the dean search and nominate potential candidates, Salovey said.

“As I announced in December, Robert Alpern, Ensign professor of medicine and dean of the Yale School of Medicine, has decided to step down from the deanship and pursue his research interests once a new dean has been appointed,” Salovey stated in the email. “… In the coming months, there will be opportunities for meetings, group discussions, and individual conversations with search advisory committee members. The committee and I welcome your perspectives during the search process, and we hope you will not hesitate to send us your input.”

On Dec. 19, Salovey announced that School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern will step down once his successor is named. In an email to the School of Medicine community earlier that day, Alpern said that while he initially sought reappointment for a fourth term, he realized last fall that “now is the time to make a leadership transition.”

According to the School of Medicine website, the committee will solicit feedback from members of the Yale Community through a webform hosted by the Office of the President. Respondents must provide their names and affiliations to the University.

“I am delighted to chair such a distinguished group on the search advisory committee,” Cooley said. “I am looking forward to working with President Salovey and my colleagues on the committee to identify an outstanding new dean.”

In an email to the News, microbial pathogenesis professor and a member of the committee Andrew Goodman said that he hopes the school will appoint someone who will strengthen the partnership between the school and the Yale New Haven Hospital. Goodman added that the committee is also looking for candidates who will help facilitate a healthy workplace climate at the School of Medicine.

School of Medicine chair of immunology David Schatz, who also sits on the committee, said the committee will look for individuals who will “foster outstanding teaching, clinical care and research” and prioritize “diversity, inclusion, transparency [and] respect.”

Last fall, the University reviewed Alpern for a fourth term as dean, as controversy swirled over the University’s decision to grant a new endowed professorship to cardiology professor Michael Simons, whom the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct found guilty of sexual harassment in 2013. In a petition delivered to Salovey last September, hundreds of alumni, students and faculty members criticized the school’s climate during Alpern’s tenure and called for “new innovative leadership.”

Then, in December, a joint report by The New York Times and ProPublica found that Alpern failed to accurately disclose his ties to the pharmaceutical company Tricida, Inc. in a 2017 journal article that evaluated the effectiveness of a Tricida therapy.

Search committee member and immunobiology professor Akiko Iwasaki said that she hopes to recruit someone, “who places emphasis on excellence in both research and clinical endeavors at the school, while ensuring safe and supportive environment for all — including women and minorit[ies].”

“The search for a new dean is a turning point for the School of Medicine, and an opportunity to work with leadership across the university and the community to continue to improve health for Connecticut, the country and the world,” Yale School of Nursing Dean Ann Kurth said.

Alpern assumed deanship of the medical school in 2004.

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