Director of Casey Eye Institute Named New Dean of OHSU School of Medicine

06/09/03    Portland, Ore.

Joseph Robertson Jr., M.D., M.B.A, has been named dean of the OHSU School of Medicine. An acclaimed expert in ophthalmology, Robertson has accepted a five-year appointment as the School of Medicine's 14th dean, beginning July 1, 2003.

Robertson currently serves as professor and chairman of ophthalmology at the School of Medicine and director of the Casey Eye Institute. His selection comes on the recommendation of an advisory committee charged with answering the question of whether to open a national search or appoint Robertson.

"Dr. Robertson is a recognized leader in his field," said Peter Kohler, M.D., OHSU president. "By naming him dean of the School of Medicine, OHSU is securing an exceptional leader to continue the medical school's rise to the top ranks of medical education in America."

Robertson has served as interim dean since February 2003 when Christine Cassel, M.D., announced her acceptance of the presidency of the American Board of Internal Medicine and its foundation. Robertson also served as interim dean of the school in 2001 after the retirement of Joseph Bloom, M.D.

"I am honored to be asked to serve in this capacity," Robertson said. "I see tremendous potential for the future of the School of Medicine and OHSU. I look forward to the opportunity to strengthen OHSU's commitment to serve Oregonians with the best possible health care while continuing to explore new research frontiers."

Robertson has been an integral part of the Casey Eye Institute since it opened its doors in 1991. He has been director since 1997. During his time at Casey, research funds have more than tripled, the staff has doubled, faculty recruitment has increased, and plans were laid for an addition to increase space for research and patient care.

After several months of working as interim dean with medical faculty and OHSU administration to ensure a smooth leadership transition, Robertson is intensely aware of the challenges ahead. And as a physician who also has an M.B.A., he is taking a methodical approach to addressing economic and budgetary pressures while ensuring that neither medical education nor patient care is compromised.

As dean, Robertson's priorities include adapting a pared down budget, addressing the deepening health care crisis concerning the underinsured, and prioritizing the medical school's various existing initiatives.

While the challenges facing him in his new position are great, Robertson is optimistic.

"Times of duress are often when great organizations are born - or reborn," he said. "That's because such times force you to make difficult decisions. And then you are better positioned for the future when the economic cycle returns to times of greater prosperity. So this is the time to examine what we do and how we can do the most with the least."

Robertson received his bachelor's degree in neuroscience from Yale University in 1974, graduating cum laude. He earned his M.D. in 1978 from Indiana University, and completed his residency in ophthalmology at OHSU. In 1997 he completed an executive M.B.A. program at the University of Oregon.