Medical school restructuring

The ousting of the medical school’s dean gives the medical school a chance to repair its damaged reputation.

The University recently announced its decision to converge two positions: the senior vice president of health sciences and the dean of the medical school. Senior Vice President of Health Sciences Frank Cerra will take over Dean Deborah PowellâÄôs position and Powell will temporarily step down if the Board of Regents approves of the move in its May meeting. A search will be conducted for a person to take both positions by 2011. We applaud this restructuring as a cost saving measure âÄî but with caution and questions. Among those questions is the re-appointment of Powell, who has been subject to severe scrutiny after the Star Tribune revealed in December that she appointed as the co-chair of an ethics panel âÄî charged with addressing the medical schoolâÄôs conflicts of interest policies âÄî Leo Furcht, a professor in the Medical School who wrongly steered roughly half a million dollars of research money to a company he owned. University officials have said that they are looking to appoint Powell in an administrative position in medical education. We urge them to examine closely appointing her to any position at the medical school, as she has already seriously erred in FurchtâÄôs appointment while displaying that she has little regard for transparency. And transparency is a word University officials should keep in mind while looking for a replacement. Regrettably, it has taken heavy reporting to unearth the fact that a co-chair of an ethics committee was himself reprimanded by the University for flouting ethics. Indeed, this is a chance for the medical school to not only save money, but also repair its muddied reputation.