OHSU President Announces Plans To Retire In 2006

08/24/05  Portland, Ore.

Retirement will culminate 18-year tenure,

OHSU President Peter O. Kohler, M.D., has announced plans to retire by the end of 2006. Kohler became OHSU president July 1, 1988. He is one of the nation's longest-serving academic health center presidents.

Kohler intended to retire in 2003 at age 65. However, with several important projects under way as a result of the Oregon Opportunity funding, he committed to extend his tenure to provide essential continuity. OHSU is in the midst of significant faculty recruitments and program enhancements. By fall 2006, four major expansion projects will be completed, including the Biomedical Research Building and the new patient care facility on Marquam Hill, the first building on the South Waterfront campus and the city's tram connecting these two campuses.

In addition, during the next 12 to 18 months, OHSU will initiate the master planning process for the educational expansion of the Schnitzer Campus on the South Waterfront, as well as driving creative solutions to educating an increased number of health care professionals, scientists and engineers to meet the critical needs of the near future. Kohler will play a key role in these important discussions and plans.

"Peter is a wonderful visionary leader and is the primary architect of a truly dramatic transformation at OHSU," said Keith Thomson, chairman of the OHSU Board of Directors. "We appreciate what he has done in growing this outstanding institution for Oregon and will miss his entrepreneurial spirit and vision plus his ability to create an environment that encourages excellence and innovation.

"Peter has been instrumental in guiding OHSU to national prominence. The institution is a dramatically different place than it was in 1988, and is well positioned to be within the top echelon of academic health and science institutions in the world. Peter led the team that made it all happen."

The OHSU Board of Directors is forming a search committee chaired by board member, Henry Hewitt; and it will begin a national search in the next few months.

"It is the goal of the Board to ensure that OHSU will continue to implement the plans and direction set by Dr. Kohler," said Thomson. "I am confident that the current position and strategic direction will entice excellent candidates, both internally and externally, to lead this wonderful institution."

Kohler plans to spend more time with his family, including his grandchildren. He also plans to remain active in health care policy at a national and state level.

Highlights of Growth and Change During Kohler's Tenure (also see attached timeline)

- Today OHSU is Portland's largest employer and the state's fourth with 11,500 employees - nearly twice the number of employees in 1988.

- OHSU's annual budget in 1988 was $254 million (21.6% from state appropriation); today it is $1.26 billion (less than 3% from state appropriation).

- In 1995 the state and OHSU created an innovative partnership, converting OHSU from the state's higher education system to a nonprofit public corporation. This conversion created a more streamlined governance structure with an OHSU Board of Directors appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.

- Patient care visits have grown from 245,000 annually in 1988 to 737,600 in 2004.

- Research quantity and achievement have grown by almost legendary proportions. Annual award dollars have grown from $40.5 million in 1988 to $274 million in fiscal year 2005. And, in 2002 OHSU successfully gathered support for the Oregon Opportunity, an innovative combination of public and private dollars that is positioning Oregon to be in the forefront in biomedical advances.

- Education, patient care and research programs have been enhanced and added, setting standards for innovation, quality and responsiveness to the region's unique needs.

- Statewide activities and programs have more than quadrupled. These 200 community service initiatives have improved access to health care and education, providing services to more 250,000 people annually. The Area Health Education Centers program, launched in 1990, is the linchpin in OHSU's efforts to match education with service needs. This program provides required educational training in underserved rural and urban areas, filling both a provider shortage and spurring interest in underserved health care among young professionals.

- Facilities have been upgraded and 11 new buildings have been completed since 1988. A new west campus was added, including the Oregon National Primate Research Center and the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science & Technology. The merger with OGI represents an unprecedented marriage between engineering, computer expertise and medical science.

- The multiple OHSU clinician practices were consolidated into a single organization - the largest physician group in the state - creating an effective partnership with the university.