Paller to be ‘Chief Operating Officer’ at Medical School

Newly appointed Executive Vice Dean will oversee day-to-day operations at the Medical School.

The newly-created position of Executive Vice Dean of the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Medical School will be filled by Mark Paller , the current assistant vice president for research at the Academic Health Center starting July 1, pending the Board of RegentsâÄô approval. Paller, 56, splits his time between the Academic Health Center and Fairview Health Services where he is a practicing physician in nephrology (kidney problems), and at the Medical School as a lecturer. PallerâÄôs wide-ranging expertise met the requirements outlined by Frank Cerra, M.D., Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, who was searching for a research expert who was also a competent teacher and clinician to fulfill Executive Vice Dean. Cerra is also awaiting the RegentsâÄô Board approval before becoming dean of the Medical School. The large number of responsibilities that will be delegated to Cerra as dean requires a deputy to help carry out long-term goals on a daily basis. âÄúThe dean will work more on the strategic major policy kinds of issues, and the executive vice dean âĦ will be the Chief Operating Officer of the school,âÄù Cerra said. Paller cites working with the Medical SchoolâÄôs three vice deans of education, research, and clinical affairs , the branch of the Medical School in Duluth, and the 25 departments in the school on an operational basis as some of his new responsibilities. Cerra said he and Paller have a history of working closely. Paller began working at the University in 1982 as a nephrologist. He was hired as by Cerra as assistant vice president for research, a position he held since 1999. The outlined goals of the new administration cover topics across the board, from developing a new economic model to enhancing research missions. âÄúThe big challenge is the financial challenge,âÄù Paller said. âÄúThe medical school has some existing debt, and expenses are greater than revenues.âÄù The restructuring within the Academic Health Center and Medical School is part of a controversial initiative announced by President Bruininks in a press release on Jan. 29 , as an attempt to âÄúalign and streamline resources and core functions in this severely challenged economy.âÄù Medical School affiliates think the restructuring will have a minimal impact on daily business. âÄúI donâÄôt see this as a huge shift, the ship was working well, and I think it will continue to work well,âÄù said Gordon Alexander , the regional president of University Medical Center, Fairview. PallerâÄôs appointment has been generally well received by staff. âÄúI havenâÄôt had any hate mail, I havenâÄôt had any hang-up calls,âÄù he said jokingly.