Medical School dean to retire

Frank Cerra said he intends to stick around as a faculty member after he retires at the end of the year.

Tara Bannow

Frank Cerra will retire from his position as dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School and senior vice president for health sciences of the Academic Health Center at the end of 2010. âÄúIâÄôm a healthy guy, my wife is healthy and we want to do some traveling,âÄù Cerra said. âÄúAnd I do plan to do some fishing and continue painting.âÄù But he isnâÄôt done with the University yet. Cerra said he intends to stick around as a faculty member, a position that will place him closer to the next generation of professionals charged with transforming health care delivery. He said he doesnâÄôt know yet whether heâÄôll take a period of leave in January or how long it would be. In a statement announcing CerraâÄôs retirement last week, University President Bob Bruininks outlined his plan to identify CerraâÄôs replacement. âÄúWhile I wish him all the best in his next pursuits, his stepping down from his current role will have a tremendous impact on many aspects of the University and its wider community,âÄù Bruininks said in the statement. Bruininks hired Susan Gebelein of Savannah Consulting to gather input from University governance groups, campus leaders and partners to garner opinions on potential candidates and on the overall structure of the position. The consulting process began last week and will be completed by early April, the statement said. Although itâÄôs up to Bruininks, Cerra said he believes the leadership roles of the AHC and Medical School should remain welded into one position. âÄúThis has worked well up to this point, and I see no reason it shouldnâÄôt continue and get a good trial,âÄù he said. The changes Cerra made, such as recruiting talented department heads, will have enduring impacts on the Medical School, Mark Paller, the schoolâÄôs executive vice dean, said. âÄúPresumably, like any good organization, when the leaders change weâÄôll continue to thrive,âÄù he said. âÄúWeâÄôll miss him, but IâÄôm sure weâÄôll be able to continue the direction that heâÄôs already helped us to develop.âÄù Much still needs to happen between now and December, Cerra said. In his remaining 10 months, Cerra said he intends to focus on the clinical integration of the AHC, Fairview Health Services and University of Minnesota Physicians, the completion of the Biomedical Discovery District, implementing e-Learning in the AHC and getting the new Medical School curriculum ready for accreditation. In addition, Cerra stressed the need to balance the Medical School budget and move into the âÄúnew economic normal,âÄù which means less dependence on state dollars and more on what the University can generate on its own. As a professor, Cerra said he looks forward to guiding leadership development, particularly in the health sciences, and developing health policy. Having been involved in the creation of the AHC History Project, an extensive archive of research, education, activities, outreach and patient documents, Cerra said he is interested in writing a book on AHC history. Bruininks extended CerraâÄôs appointment six months in late 2008 when he announced the consolidation of the senior vice president for health sciences and the dean of the Medical School. While he has his health, Cerra said itâÄôs time to do the things heâÄôs always wanted to do. At the same time, he acknowledged there will always be roles that need filling. âÄúI used to think you might get the problem solved, but that is just not true,âÄù he said. âÄúThereâÄôs always a new crop of challenges, and there will always be a need for people to address them.âÄù