University of Arizona Senior Leadership Searches


TO: Campus Community
FROM: Ann Weaver Hart, President
SUBJECT: University of Arizona Senior Leadership Searches
DATE: Aug. 1, 2012

As I said on my first day at the University of Arizona, one of the most pressing needs we face is to fill critical leadership positions in order to quickly move forward with our agenda for the advancement of the University. I write to let you know where we stand in this very important activity.

Two critical roles have been filled in the last few days. First, Dr. Andrew Comrie has accepted the position of Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost for a one-year term beginning Aug. 1. Thank you to all of you who provided me with advice and counsel about who among our very talented senior leaders could best fill this role. Second, I have appointed Ms. Suzanne Ornelas as my Chief of Staff and Liaison to the Arizona Board of Regents. Ms. Ornelas served President Eugene Sander, and her work is central to our success in the Office of the President, across the University and with the Arizona Board of Regents. If you missed the previous announcements, you can read more about Andrew and Suzanne on the Office of the President UA Web page announcing their appointments.

Two very important searches continue. The search for the Senior Vice President for External Relations is ongoing.  The chair, Marketing Professor Robert Lusch, and the search committee appointed last year have graciously agreed to continue their work. A Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued for executive search firms interested in assisting with this search. The members of the committee will review the responses and recommend three search firms to me. I will meet with the committee to interview three firms and consult with the committee before making the final selection. A search committee chaired by Eller School of Business and Management Dean Len Jessup is continuing its work to identify an Executive Director for the new Tech Launch Arizona initiative at the University. This second search is almost complete, and we hope to make an announcement in the near future regarding its successful conclusion.

I am pleased to inform you of these important appointments and searches. Today, I would also like to announce the appointment of two additional search committees for two senior executive positions to work with the talented leadership team already in place – Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost and Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. 

The able leadership of Dr. Comrie allows the University time to conduct a national/international search for the SVP for Academic Affairs and Provost. Dr. Comrie will not be a candidate for the position, and he will aid and advise me in this process. Over the last few weeks, I have sought input from faculty leaders, deans, senior staff, regents and others about the chair of the committee and its composition and about the characteristics, accomplishments and experiences we believe our new senior academic leader should possess. Social and Behavioral Sciences Dean J. P. Jones has agreed to chair the committee, and Ms. Anne Marx has agreed to staff the committee in support of its activities. I have invited members of the search committee to respond regarding their willingness to serve and will post the full membership of the committee on the President’s website as soon as I have heard from everyone and have a fully constituted committee. A process similar to the one described for the VP for External Relations above has been initiated to select an executive search firm for this search.

The final, critically important, senior executive for which we will search this fall is the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. The health professions comprise a significant part of the overall mission and activities of the University of Arizona. The combined education, research and clinical efforts of medicine, pharmacy, nursing and public health represent a huge proportion of our overall effort and financial commitment. Given the incredibly complex and shifting political environment of healthcare practice, policy and law in the United States and in Arizona, this leadership position is critically important to our successful future. The College of Medicine enterprise (COM-Tucson and COM-Phoenix), the bi-campus College of Pharmacy, the College of Nursing and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health will report directly to the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. The SVP will work in partnership with the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost on promotion and tenure matters.

As with the search for SVP for Academic Affairs and Provost, I solicited counsel, advice and nominations for the search chair and search committee members. I have also solicited counsel and advice regarding desired characteristics, experiences and knowledge required for the SVP for Academic Affairs and Provost. Thank you to all of you who took the time to submit your advice and names for my review. Dr. Fernando Martinez, Director of the Arizona Respiratory Center, Director of the BIO5 Institute and Professor of Pediatrics has agreed to chair this search, and Ms. Sharon Young will serve as staff to the committee. Committee members have been invited, and the final committee composition will be posted on the President’s website. In order to achieve maximum effectiveness and to expedite the search process, Witt/Kieffer will serve as the executive search firm for this search. Witt/Kieffer is also assisting in the searches for the CEO of the University of Arizona Health Network that the UAHN Board of Directors is conducting and in the search for the Director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center. Until this search identifies a permanent SVP for Health Sciences, Dr. J. Lyle Bootman will continue to serve this critical role.

The search for the SVP for Health Sciences is taking place at a major turning point for the health sciences enterprise at the University of Arizona. After years of development, the College of Medicine-Phoenix was recently granted preliminary independent accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). This separate accreditation for the College of Medicine-Phoenix completes a process of differentiation which has been under way for years and provides for many opportunities to take advantage of the unique research, education and clinical practice opportunities centered in Tucson and in Phoenix.  Nevertheless, the College of Medicine combined enterprise will remain the center of medical education, research and clinical service in Arizona. The Senior Vice President for Health Sciences will reinforce that unity with clear and focused leadership and a unified vision for the health sciences at the University of Arizona.

Again, thank you to all of you who so thoughtfully and expeditiously responded to my request for advice and counsel these past few weeks. Without your help, we would not have been able to launch this ambitious effort to find the next generation of new senior leaders for the University of Arizona so quickly.  I will keep you informed of the progress of the searches in the weeks and months to come.