(May 2014) You may have heard that I asked the University leadership in January to begin the process of searching for the next dean of our school. For the past 24 years, it has been my privilege to serve as dean of the University of Colorado School of Medicine. I was appointed interim dean in 1990, and in March 1992, the interim was removed.
We have enjoyed tremendous successes at the School of Medicine during these years. We launched more than 3,000 physicians on their careers. We established world-class educational, research and clinical programs. We moved to the amazing Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, where a $1 billion School of Medicine enterprise has emerged from the fallow grounds of a former U.S. Army garrison.
In 1990, I was planning a sabbatical to Belgium to study that country’s child-protection system. But those plans took a detour when then-Chancellor Bernard Nelson, MD, asked me to “stop by the house.” He was looking for a medical school dean. After polling the two factions on the faculty, he said I was fifth on one list and 13th on the other. I said that didn’t sound like a ringing endorsement. He said I was the obvious choice because I was the only person on both lists.
I found out right away how hard the job would be. In my first hour, Lilly Marks, who is now the university's vice president for health affairs and executive vice chancellor of the Anschutz Medical Campus, welcomed me with the news that three key departments were facing a combined 30 percent hole in their revenue.
During those interim years, I didn’t quit my day job as director of the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect. I figured I’d be back at it full time soon enough. In those days, nobody lasted as a medical school dean for more than two or three years.
Turns out being a pediatrician working with child-protection teams was excellent training. I had worked with physicians, police officers, teachers, judges and social workers—a group of competing interests with a common goal. As dean, I have worked diligently to join the common interests here. We are together engaged in an enterprise united to make Colorado and the world a better place.
That commitment spans generations. At this year’s graduation ceremony, I will be handing a diploma to Tom Seibert, one of the MD candidates in the class of 2014. His mother, Jeanne Day Seibert, was in that first class to graduate in 1991 when I was interim dean.
Though I am stepping down as dean, I have no intention of shuffling off the stage. I will return to the Kempe Center to conduct research and help with fundraising. And I still have that research project to complete. Many thanks to all who have made being at this school such a joy.
With warm regards,
Richard D. Krugman, MD
Dean, School of Medicine
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
University of Colorado