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Transition at Penn Medicine
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March 23, 2010, Volume 56, No. 26

President Amy Gutmann announced that Dr. Arthur Rubenstein will step down as Dean of the School of Medicine and Executive Vice President of the University for the Health System at the end of his current term next year. This spring, President Gutmann will name and charge an ad hoc consultative committee to begin the process of advising her on identifying his successor. From now through June 30, 2011, he will “continue moving ahead with our great Penn Medicine and University teams to realize our ambitious goals for Penn Medicine,” Dr. Gutmann said.

President Gutmann added that Dr. Rubenstein’s transition on June 30, 2011 will mark the conclusion of “ten enormously successful and productive years that have immeasurably strengthened Penn Medicine and thus the University. As Dean, EVP, and a key member of the University’s senior leadership, his gracious and inclusive leadership has been one of the great assets of Penn Medicine and Penn. Along with his ambitious vision, commitment to broad University engagement, and strong ethical compass, his exemplary leadership has made Penn Medicine one of Penn’s most eminent enterprises.”

The president also noted that since his arrival at Penn in 2001, “Dr. Rubenstein has strengthened Penn Medicine’s faculty; expanded teaching, research, and clinical programs and facilities; and stabilized Penn Medicine’s financial position. A tireless supporter of our Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) program, he has taken the lead in helping to recruit distinguished interdisciplinary scholars to Penn, and seven PIK Professors have one of their appointments in the School of Medicine.” Penn’s PIK ranks will expand still further thanks to the Health System’s decision—under Dr. Rubenstein’s and Ralph Muller’s leadership—to contribute $50 million to endow five new Penn Integrates Knowledge Professorships in neuroscience, jointly appointed in the School of Medicine and other Penn schools, and to support University-wide programs in neuroscience. While Dr. Rubenstein’s support of the PIK program is among his more visible accomplishments in the faculty arena, he is as strongly committed to reenergizing, expanding, and diversifying Penn Medicine’s clinical and basic science ranks, and has overseen the recruitment of numerous chairs and institute directors who have brought continued renown to Penn.

He has led an unprecedented expansion in Penn Medicine’s clinical and research facilities. The Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine provides a stunning, patient-friendly new home for many of Penn Medicine’s outpatient services, including Penn’s world-class Abramson Cancer Center. The construction of the Roberts Proton Therapy Center—the largest facility of its kind in the world—will bring hope to thousands of patients from around the Philadelphia region and the world. The Fisher Translational Research Center will better integrate Penn’s basic science research with the clinical mission and more quickly drive research innovations from the laboratory bench to the bedside. The new Penn Medicine at Rittenhouse facility represents an important expansion of our vitally important hospice and rehabilitation programs, added the president.

Research, clinical, and educational programs have all grown stronger and more integrated during Dr. Rubenstein’s tenure. Penn’s stature among the top recipients of research funding from the National Institutes of Health has been enhanced, while research funding from non-NIH federal agencies, state-level organizations, and foundation and industry sources has grown. Under his leadership, Penn Medicine attracted a highly competitive $68-million Clinical and Translational Science Award, and Penn Medicine fashioned a quick and highly effective response to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act that helped Penn Medicine faculty garner 220 awards totaling $136.4-million in “stimulus” funding. Clinical care has been strengthened with the successful introduction of numerous patient safety and quality initiatives and HUP’s designation as a “Magnet” facility by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.  The School has fostered new combined degree programs and new master’s programs in health policy research and translational medicine. Dr. Rubenstein has also been a strong supporter of Penn’s local and global engagement initiatives, including the Sayre Health Center in West Philadelphia, which is now a core clerkship site for Family Medicine, and Penn’s expanding programs in Botswana, which have become a model of global engagement. The School received a reaccreditation report from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.

At the same time, Penn Medicine’s financial position is strong. The 10-year financial plan, created under Dr. Rubenstein’s leadership and in partnership with Mr. Muller, has stabilized finances during a challenging period, while also allowing for continued investment in our highest academic and clinical priorities. Most recently, the disciplined management of Penn Medicine’s finances was recognized when Moody’s Investor Service reaffirmed the Health System’s Aa3 bond rating and highlighted Penn’s prominent clinical reputation, exceptional patient demand, and strong operating and financial management. Dr. Rubenstein has attracted significant new philanthropic support to Penn Medicine, which is on-track to reach its $1-billion goal as part of the University’s Making History campaign by 2012. He has bolstered Penn Medicine’s volunteer leadership by recruiting new Penn Medicine Trustees and expanding the pipeline of volunteers and supporters for decades to come.

Dr. Rubenstein’s “unimpeachable judgment and strong ethical compass are essential components of all his stellar contributions to Penn Medicine and Penn,” added Dr. Gutmann.

He enacted strict new policies regarding gifts and largess from the pharmaceutical industry, and he advocated for the development of a public web-based platform for disclosure of faculty extramural activity that positioned Penn Medicine as a national leader in managing potential conflicts of interest at a time when many institutions were facing criticism for not being committed to openness and transparency.

Dr. Gutmann concluded, “In sum, his peers regard Arthur as ‘the complete academic physician leader,’ and we emphatically endorse their assessment.”

Almanac - March 23, 2010, Volume 56, No. 26