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February 5, 1998

Semi-finalists expected to be chosen next month in Health Sciences search

The committee seeking candidates for the newly combined job of senior vice chancellor for Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine has narrowed its search to "about a dozen and a half people," according to committee chairperson H.J. Zoffer.

"I would describe them as a diverse group of quite able people," he said. "They include department chairs, deans, vice chancellors and a few people from government agencies who have had experience working at universities. We have some internal as well as external candidates." Last week, search committee members finished the last of their out-of-town visits with candidates, Zoffer said. The committee hopes by early March to narrow the list to 8-10 semi-finalists who will visit Pitt to meet with the full search committee, Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, Provost James Maher, University department chairpersons, and representatives of the Board of Trustees and UPMC Health System, he said.

Given the range and number of people the semi-finalists will meet with in Pittsburgh, it's likely that at least some of those candidacies will become public knowledge, Zoffer acknowledged. But he said the committee itself won't announce names until it has cut the list to 3-6 finalists. That should happen in early April, Zoffer said.

"All of the candidates understand that, at some point, we will have to go public with their names prior to the time the chancellor actually makes the decision" on whom he will recommend to the Board of Trustees for final approval, Zoffer said. "Our committee has to achieve a balance between the candidates' needs for confidentiality and the University community's right to full disclosure. It's not an easy balance to make." While some of the remaining candidates don't care if their names are released publicly, others — including some of the most highly qualified candidates — would drop out of the search if word gets out prior to the finalist stage that they're pursuing a job at another university, Zoffer said. Among the latter group are administrators who themselves are in the middle of delicate negotiations on behalf of their current universities with prospective professors, he said.

Zoffer, who is dean emeritus of the Katz Graduate School of Business, said his committee is running a month behind its original goal of presenting a list of finalists to Chancellor Norden-berg in early March. He attributed most of the delay to problems in scheduling meetings with candidates.

"Setting up times to meet with these people is an arduous task because they tend to travel a lot, they're involved in research projects, they have clinical obligations, administrative responsibilities and so forth," Zoffer noted.

Chancellor Nordenberg has said he hopes to have the new Health Sciences administrator on board by the beginning of the 1998-99 academic year.

The new senior vice chancellor will succeed Thomas Detre, who plans to retire, and George Michalopoulos, who is interim dean of the medical school.

— Bruce Steele

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