Search begins for M Health CEO

Regents selected three people to hire the CEO for the newly rebranded health system.

Youssef Rddad

As the search for a CEO of the new University of Minnesota Health system begins, University of Minnesota leaders and officials are expressing a strong preference for someone with an academic background.
Some members of the Board of Regents cited the close connection between the University’s medical school and the new M Health system.
“We’re looking at the future of our medical school,” said Regent Patricia Simmons at a board meeting last week, adding that a number of the CEO candidates being considered have academic backgrounds.
As part of the merger between Fairview Health Services and University of Minnesota Physicians, the groups each selected three members to assist in hiring a CEO.
On Thursday, Regents approved the selection of Brooks Jackson, dean of the Medical School and vice president for health sciences; Kenneth Roering, a Carlson School of Management professor; and Regent Patricia Simmons, a retired Mayo Clinic physician.
In October, University and Fairview leaders announced the likely merger and touted shared benefits, including UMP specialists gaining a larger client base from Fairview, as well as University medical specialists and technology being at Fairview’s disposal.
“We have a big project in front of us, and it’s like aligning three big ships that aren’t anchored in the harbor,” said Academic Health Center Counsel Keith Dunder on Thursday.
During the discussion, some Regents expressed concerns around the urgency to select a CEO.
Regent Michael Hsu said he was uneasy about offering contracts to the future CEO before details about the merger were completed.
“I think if all of our candidates that we’re looking at are currently employed, I don’t think they would consider the offer and give notice [at] their job and start working here,” he said at the meeting.
M Health wouldn’t employ a prospective CEO until the merger is complete, Dunder said, adding that part of the negotiation would rest on a candidate’s willingness to commit to the new system early.
Simmons said the original March 31 deadline to finalize agreements between the University, UMP and Fairview would likely be pushed back to July.
At the meeting, Regent Darrin Rosha said he was worried about Simmons’ selection to serve on the UMH board. Board members are compensated for their work.
Rosha said Simmons’ appointment may create “conflicts of loyalties” between UMH and her role as a regent.
“If Regent Simmons is a member of the UMH board, when we’re having a discussion, is she wearing her UMH hat or her Regent hat?” Rosha said.
But at the meeting, Simmons said some regents also serve on the University of Minnesota Foundation.