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Finalist for UA health affairs VP big fundraiser

William M. Crist raised $100 million, increased endowment

The man University of Arizona President Robert N. Shelton thinks might be able to right the UA College of Medicine’s ship raised more than $100 million in his eight years as dean of the University of Missouri School of Medicine.

William M. Crist, who took the reins at the MU school in 2000, has also increased its endowment to $80 million, a 150 percent jump over his predecessor’s endowment, according to MU officials.

A 2004 Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune story described him as having the “Midas touch” when it came to raising funds and quoted one faculty member as saying Crist could “sell you something you didn’t know you wanted.”

Crist was identified as the finalist for UA’s vice president for health affairs Monday and will meet faculty, staff and the public at 3 p.m. Thursday in UMC’s DuVal Auditorium.

He’s also recruited department heads from Harvard and Duke universities and expanded faculty research, education and support space, according to Rich Gleba, communications director for MU’s School of Medicine.

“It is not surprising that major institutions would be looking to him for leadership,” MU Chancellor Brady Deaton wrote in an e-mail. “He has recruited outstanding leaders and quality scientists in our departments.”

Crist has also had his share of problems. A July 24 Tribune story said MU recently hired Pitts Management Associates for $800,000 to “create a common mission” for the university’s health sciences areas, the university hospital and the physician’s practice plan after reports that the units weren’t working together well.

In addition, the school hired Pitts in October to help evaluate the reporting structure and responsibilities of Crist and the MU hospital’s CEO regarding who was in charge of the physicians practice plan. The consultation worked and Crist told the Tribune that disagreements between him and CEO Jim Ross were resolved.

Similar issues were raised in an April UA faculty report, which detailed numerous concerns within the College of Medicine mostly focused on the convoluted relationships among the medical college, University Medical Center and the faculty-physicians’ practice plan, a situation Shelton described as “a wild, crazy structure (that) … simply doesn’t work.”

Also brought up were concerns about the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix, which enrolled its first class two years ago.

Edward “Ted” Shortliffe resigned as dean of the college in Phoenix in May. His resignation followed a March 31 memo to Phoenix faculty members from UA College of Medicine Dean Keith Joiner, saying Shortliffe’s title would be changed to “vice dean” because of confusion over who was in charge of the Phoenix campus.

Joiner then resigned in July after a Shelton-led town hall where about 200 medical faculty and staff expressed a lack of confidence in Joiner’s leadership and concern over the college in Phoenix.

It might appear Crist, who would be hiring Shortliffe’s and Joiner’s replacements, would be jumping from the frying pan into the fire if appointed at UA. But Gleba said, “I don’t believe the challenges faced by the University of Arizona or the University of Missouri are unusual for academic medical centers.

“By their very nature, they have a variety of missions, complex components and large operating budgets that require strong leadership and a well-formed organizational structure.”

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