Medical Center splits into three schools

The three schools of the GW Medical Center split into distinct entities over the summer in the culmination of a yearlong reorganization aimed at strengthening the academic and management functions of the almost decade-old structure.

The deans of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, the School of Public Health and Health Services and the School of Nursing now report directly to Provost Steven Lerman, bringing the schools’ leadership structures into line with other schools of the University. The deans previously reported to the vice president for medical affairs.

Lerman said the transition has made significant progress since a review of the center by an external health care services consultant began in August of last year at the recommendation of the Medical Center Committee of the Board of Trustees.

“While this process has been sometimes complex and challenging, it has also been undertaken with an incredible spirit of cooperation and forward-looking enthusiasm,” Lerman said. “We strongly believe that the result will be three schools that are better organized to advance GW’s educational and research missions.”

In the third phase of the reorganization, a team of five groups – focusing on finances, the governance, shared services, research and academics – will be responsible for implementing administrative changes within the three schools.

Beginning last month, the three schools formed separate budgets and will maintain their own development and communication operations. While the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the School of Public Health and Health Services will remain on a closed budget model, the School of Nursing, now in its second year, will operate under a unified budget in which it receives many of its services from the central structure of the University.

“We are still working with the [GW] Medical Faculty Associates and the GW Hospital on collaborative funding and support guidelines and agreements,” Lerman said.

Interim dean of the medical school Jeffrey Ackman, under the title of vice provost for health affairs, will manage relationships with the hospital and MFA.

The Himmelfarb Library, which will also be managed by the medical school, will continue to be a collaborative source of research and academic opportunities among the three schools.

Each school has either submitted or is in the process of finalizing its bylaws and guidelines for appointment, tenure and promotion, Lerman said. After tenure became a recurring problem for all three schools of the Medical Center and two other schools of the University, tenure standards were tightened across the board last May in a pitch to develop more committed faculty.

Lerman added that the three schools are still working to find the best way to share academic resources, and that it may be a lengthier process given space and cost issues.

“We are moving forward in the spirit of the new organizational model and are aided by the enthusiasm and help of our three deans and their staffs,” Lerman said.

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