School of Medicine and Health Sciences dean abruptly resigns

Clarification appended

The dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences announced last week he will step down from his position next semester, but University officials have declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding his resignation.

Dr. James Scott told University President Steven Knapp and the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven Lerman he will not return to the position of dean in the spring, according to a University statement.

Apart from holding the GW Medical Center’s highest position, Scott was a professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine before becoming dean, and is slated to return to his former position as a full-time faculty member next semester.

Scott’s departure comes on the heels of an investigation by the Board of Trustees into the Medical Center. The review was requested in May 2010 in order to analyze the center’s organizational structure, after the 10-year anniversary of its current configuration.

“The University is now beginning a second phase [of the review] in which faculty and other stakeholders will be engaged in planning for the Medical Center’s future structure, vision and strategy,” the statement said.

Scott made the decision to step down in order “to ensure the independence of the review’s next phase,” according to the statement.

Officials in the Medical Center, including Scott, did not respond to numerous requests for comment about the sudden announcement, or why Scott would be perceived as a hindrance to the independence of the review.

Directors in the Office of Media Relations declined to answer questions about why Scott decided to step down and what this means for the future of SMHS.

In October 2008, the school’s accreditation board put the medical doctorate program on probation for failing to maintain various standards of protocol, including curriculum management, providing adequate study space for students and internal administrative processes.

At the time, the University’s medical program was the only school on probation with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education – the accreditation board that reviews GW’s medical school – and only the fifth to be placed on probation nationwide since 1994. The probation was lifted last February after a review found that numerous improvements had been made to the program.

Scott was a positive and productive dean who prompted growth within the Medical Center, according to the statement.

“He has led the medical school ably and with distinction since 2003,” Lerman said in the statement. “During that period, the applicant pool has consistently been among the largest of any medical school in the country, and Jim’s leadership has ensured that a GW doctor is always ready for the practice of medicine in the real world.”

The provost did not return a request for a comment.

This article was revised on Nov. 23, 2010 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet characterized the University’s review of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences as an investigation. The Univeristy and the Board of Trustees is calling it a review. When quoting a statement from the Univeristy, The Hatchet added the words “of the investigation” in brackets to clarify what the quote was referring to. This made it appear as if the Univeristy is referring to the review as an investigation, which is untrue.

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