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Message from Dean Richardson: Becoming the 21st Century Office of the Dean

Dean RichardsonDear School of Medicine Community:

This month, we welcomed our MD Class of 2015. Throughout the many activities of Orientation Week, including the culminating White Coat Ceremony, the topic of change came up many times. Perhaps for the first time in our school history, these students will be educated in a health care delivery environment that is likely to be altered significantly in the future. Our students will soon not only be at the leading edge of change, they will be shaping that change.

As the external environment evolves, so must we, including the Office of the Dean. Not only should the Office of the Dean define and help achieve our vision for health and health care in the 21st century, we also want to maximize the exciting educational and research opportunities catalyzed by the new Collaborative Life Science Building being built on the South Waterfront. Many of our education and some research programs will move into this building in 2014.

There are a number of themes and questions to explore during the initial conceptualizing phase about how to reorganize the Office of the Dean. For instance,

  • How might we more effectively support collaboration across all mission areas?
  • Can we better leverage technology to meet our goals?
  • What changes might better support a programmatic continuum linking students, residents/post-docs, faculty and alumni?
  • Are we ready to meet our goals for interprofessional education, to support our Research Roadmap and help shape the future of health care delivery?

The planning is not limited to these questions; rather they are examples to give a sense what is under consideration as we reorganize.

So far, we’ve conducted an inventory of roles and responsibilities and are now mapping the processes and services in the Office of the Dean. We’ve interviewed focus groups and had one-on-one interviews with chairs, administrators, faculty, staff, students, residents, alumni, friends and others. Research about best practices at peer institutions and benchmarking our performance are also part of our planning.

As we move through this reorganization process, I anticipate that our leadership structure will evolve gradually – some programs will need new types of roles defined; in other areas, there may be opportunities to integrate responsibilities. For example, two leadership roles have already been identified for immediate change.

The first is a new position of Senior Associate Dean for Education. This position will have oversight of all our educational programs, including MD, Graduate Medical Education, Continuing Medical Education and Graduate Studies. Through this position, I expect to permanently break down the historically stubborn silos between our education programs – creating a dynamic new environment focused on a learning continuum, interprofessional education and other desired outcomes. We are conducting a national search for this position now.

The second position is the Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives. This role will help us identify needs and conceptualize and manage the implementation of new programs and key initiatives. I’ve appointed Leslie E. Kahl, MD, to the position; please read the associated announcement for details of Dr. Kahl's appointment here.

The reorganization of the Office of the Dean is a gradual process and will likely take several years to fully implement. In addition to creating a dynamic new entity to serve the School of Medicine, I hope all of us – departments, programs, centers, institutes and other units – will gain knowledge through the reorganization that may help us on our road to becoming a 21st century medical school. I welcome your thoughts on this subject.

As always, thank you for everything you do for our school, OHSU and Oregon.

Best Regards,



Mark Richardson, MD, MBA


In September, we will welcome our new Graduate Studies students, and we will celebrate their achievements in our September distribution of SOM News.

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