OHSU Board Of Directors Appoints New OHSU President:Joseph Robertson Jr., M.D., M.B.A
07/11/06 Portland, Ore.
The Oregon Health & Science University Board of Directors today unanimously appointed Joseph Robertson Jr., M.D., M.B.A., as the university's next president. Dr. Robertson currently serves as dean of the OHSU School of Medicine. He is also the university's vice president for medical affairs. Current OHSU President Peter Kohler, M.D., plans to retire in mid-September after serving in the post for more than 18 years.
"I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead OHSU," said Dr. Robertson. "Under Dr. Kohler's leadership, OHSU witnessed tremendous expansion in all four of its core mission areas: health care, teaching, research and community service. We will build upon these achievements to continue OHSU's path toward excellence as we meet the needs of Oregonians. Doing this will require new sources of revenue, enhanced faculty support and stronger partnerships with the State of Oregon, community leaders and other health care providers."
As dean of Oregon's only medical school, Dr. Robertson has led numerous initiatives aimed at providing improved health care access to Oregonians. He proactively responded to Oregon's physician work force shortage by increasing enrollment in the medical school and developing a partnership with the University of Oregon and the PeaceHealth system, Oregon region, to expand medical education to the Eugene-Springfield area.
"There is no person better equipped to take over the reigns of OHSU than Dr. Robertson," said Keith Thomson, chairman of the OHSU Board of Directors. "As dean of the OHSU School of Medicine, Dr. Robertson has demonstrated tremendous leadership and problem-solving abilities. In addition, his firsthand awareness of the health care issues currently facing Oregonians will be of great value to OHSU as the institution works to respond to these challenges."
Dr. Robertson has a long history at OHSU. He first came to the university as a resident in 1979. In 1987 he became director of the Vitreous Surgery Service in the Casey Eye Institute. He then went on to become professor and chairman of ophthalmology in the OHSU School of Medicine and director of the Casey Eye Institute in 1998. In his time at Casey, Dr. Robertson treated hundreds of Oregon patients from a broad variety of backgrounds.
"Treating Oregonians on a daily basis gave me a unique insight into the challenges of health care access throughout the state of Oregon and beyond," explained Dr. Robertson. "In treating newborns suffering from vision loss due to retinopathy of prematurity, I have seen firsthand the difficulties that some uninsured families can face in seeking necessary health care for their children. As president of OHSU, I plan to partner with others in finding better solutions for these families."
From July 2001 to January 2002, Dr. Robertson served as interim dean of the OHSU School of Medicine. In July 2003 he became the permanent dean and was appointed OHSU's vice president for medical affairs.
"As a university, we must take advantage of existing partnerships but also forge new ones in order to have the greatest effect on Oregonians' lives," said Dr. Robertson. "While OHSU's physical campus spans a few hundred acres, we must serve all 98,000 square miles of the state of Oregon."
Dr. Robertson said OHSU research will expand in the future, both in quantity and quality. He will encourage increased commercialization of the knowledge gained through these research efforts, benefiting Oregonians by expanding their access to state-of-the-art heath care and by helping Oregon share in the economic benefits derived from emerging technologies. Dr. Robertson said transformation of the Schnitzer Campus in Portland's developing South Waterfront will be another challenge. He believes the new campus will feature cross-disciplinary education, providing future students with a unique health and science education experience. Dr Robertson also will promote expanded collaboration within the university between researchers and clinicians and across the schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry and engineering.
Dr. Robertson was selected from a large pool of applicants in an extensive process that began in late 2005. The final selection was preceded by campus visits by three finalists for the position. OHSU administration, employees, students, community leaders, the OHSU Presidential Search Committee and the OHSU Board of Directors provided input during these visits. Based on these recommendations, the search committee forwarded its choice to the OHSU Board of Directors for approval.
"The search committee feels that Dr. Robertson is the best choice for OHSU and for all Oregonians," said Henry Hewitt, OHSU board member and chairman of the OHSU Presidential Search Committee. "OHSU is known as the place where healing, teaching and discovery come together. From treating patients, to teaching medical students, to conducting groundbreaking research, Dr. Robertson's career at the university has incorporated these same three missions. He is very well-equipped to lead OHSU into the future. "
An interim dean of the OHSU School of Medicine will be appointed to serve as Robertson transitions into his new role as OHSU president. The search process for a new dean will begin in the upcoming weeks.
During Dr. Robertson's term as dean of the OHSU School of Medicine, approximately 150 new M.D. and Ph.D. faculty members have been recruited. The school moved up in the National Institutes of Health ranking from 32nd to 23rd place, with 10 School of Medicine departments in the top 15 of the NIH rankings. In 2005, School of Medicine research awards increased to a total of $156,970,388. Philanthropic giving to the school increased 52 percent between 2004 and 2005. Also during Dr. Robertson's tenure as dean, the School of Medicine has initiated several new programs and enhanced support for faculty and students. Endowed support for School of Medicine student scholarships significantly increased. A new affirmative action plan to enhance diversity was developed last year.
A photo of Dr. Robertson may be obtained by contacting OHSU News and Publications at 503 494-8231.