Keith Joiner, dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine and vice provost for medical affairs, has resigned. His last day will be July 15.
Joiner, who has served as dean of the College of Medicine since March 2004, announced Tuesday in a memo to faculty and staff that he will step down from his position and return to the faculty, where he holds professorships in medicine, cell biology and anatomy and public health.
Joiner’s resignation is part of a restructuring of the UA health sciences area, which includes the College of Medicine’s Tucson and Phoenix campuses, that university President Robert N. Shelton announced in a news release.
Shelton was on vacation Tuesday and unavailable for comment. He told the Citizen on June 13 that restructuring would be necessary because the convoluted relationship among the College of Medicine, University Physicians Healthcare, which manages the faculty doctors’ medical practices, and University Medical Center was “wacko.”
“It’s a wild and crazy structure and one that requires a lot of extra work for the leaders of the units,” Shelton said. “It simply doesn’t work.”
Key to the restructuring is hiring a vice president for health affairs to whom the deans of each of the Arizona Health Sciences Center colleges, including the Phoenix dean, will report.
Whoever fills the position will be responsible for administration and coordination of “overall academic and medical services” at the medical campuses and managing agreements among UA and University Medical Center, UPH and UPH Hospital at Kino Campus.
Tensions have been high in the College of Medicine for more than a year, with things coming to a head in April when a faculty committee report revealed concerns in the college over the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix, low morale among the medical faculty and faculty being left out of important decisions.
At that time, Shelton reassured faculty he was looking into the problem. The first signs of reorganization came in early June when Norm Botsford resigned as president and chief executive of UPH.
Executive Vice President and Provost Meredith Hay, who took office April 30, is co-leader of the search for the new vice president for health affairs with Shelton, she said.
They are being advised by deans from the colleges of pharmacy, public health and nursing, as well as the director of the cancer center, the chair of the pediatrics department and the chair of the UA Faculty Senate. Hay said there will be no public forums for medical faculty to meet the finalists for the vice president’s job, but there will be forums for the faculty when a search for the new dean begins.
“The vice president for health affairs is more of a senior administrative position and we needed to move quickly,” Hay said in explaining why there won’t be public forums with the finalists. “The job requires someone who will fit well not only with the community of Tucson but also the community of Phoenix. We have to make sure that (Arizona State University) President (Michael) Crow, as well as our hospital colleges in Phoenix, all agree this is the right choice.”
Michael Cusanovich, who chairs the Committee of Eleven, which investigates faculty complaints and which produced the report documenting medical faculty concerns, said, “We should have had a vice president some time ago to get this thing a little more under control.
“The complexities are huge between here and Phoenix, and it will be good to have one person who is the liaison,” said Cusanovich, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics
He said a public forum should be held with the finalists.
“Normally when we have senior-level hires, there are public forums,” he said. “I hope we do have them in this case so the faculty and staff can have a little input into the choices.”
Hay said she and Shelton had put out feelers nationally for a vice president for health affairs and posted the job opening Tuesday. She said searches for deans at both the Tucson and Phoenix campuses of the College of Medicine will be launched once the vice president for health affairs is hired, which she anticipates happening before the fall semester.
Steve Goldschmid, head of the department of medicine, will serve as interim dean of the College of Medicine campus in Tucson after Joiner’s resignation takes effect July 15. Goldschmid is also on the board of UPH.
Joiner declined to comment, but said in memo to faculty members that there had been many accomplishments during his four-year tenure as dean.
He mentioned launching the College of Medicine in Phoenix, adopting a new medical school curriculum, growing the faculty by almost 200 and various awards the college won.