Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dr. Frank Cerra of the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center Answers Some of Life's Persistent Questions

Some Excerpts:
Tell me a little bit about where we are with the conflicts of interest policy. I know there’s only one Regents meeting left. Where’s that at?

And then we’ll be ready to put this together and see what the new policy draft looks like, and begin to take it through the consulting process. I think we’re also in the midst of preparing a position statement on the value added from relationships between faculty and the institution and industry where there is really clear value added.

And so what kind of timeline are you working on? Is there a goal for what Regents meeting you’d like to bring the policy to?

Not really.

And I know a lot of people have expressed disappointment in the way things have gone from the task force recommendations to the draft that was released late January, early February. They want to know what’s next and how will those folks be able to get their voices heard?

There will be a draft policy that will be put in the faculty governance system
and the general collegial response system. And they’ll have the chance to voice their opinion either directly or through their elected representatives.
And so, let’s talk a little about finances. How has it been this year for the AHC? And looking forward, how do the books look for next year?

I like that, how do the books look. This year has been a major, major challenge for a variety of reasons. None the least of which is the state rescission. None the least of which is looking at the amount of debts students have and trying to figure out how do we create an economic model that will continue to support health professional education.

To try and create a sufficient margin in the clinical business, to grow and expand Medical School or health sciences program is increasingly difficult because those margins aren’t there.

And how does the state’s budget affect the AHC’s plan for the new biomedical center?

We’re moving ahead with the biomedical facilities. We’re looking at planning that district as a new campus, it’s called the Biomedical Discovery District.
Let’s talk about the transfer of the deanship, come July 1 you’re going to be taking on a lot of responsibility. What are you most looking forward to?

I think this isn’t really a transfer
, it’s really an integration of two positions to better accomplish the challenges that face us.

If you’ve been following it, you know we’re on this pathway of convergence with Fairview Health Services, that’s absolutely critical for our future. In order to, as you pointed out, finish up these biomedical facilities and get it done efficiently, effectively and on time, it’s no small feat to recruit 60 to 120 new faculty in five to seven years, that’s a lot of work, in addition to the normal turn over.

At the State of the AHC address, a lot of folks seemed concerned about their schools, outside the Med School. How do you respond to those folks who are maybe concerned that pharmacy, nursing and public health are going to be given less priority to the Med School?

Well I think they’re legitimate concerns, and I congratulate them for expressing them, because if they’re not out there you can’t talk about them and fix them.

Jumping back to the dean, has there been a decision made about Dean Powell and her future within the AHC?

No decision.
Dean Powell, the discussions continue with her. But nothing has been decided at this point in time. Just to point out, she is a tenured professor here, so at the very least, she has the right to continue as a tenured professor, but beyond that, there’s still ongoing discussion.
And has she made any indications to whether she has committed to continue as a tenured professor?

You’d have to ask her, I don’t know.

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