UMHS Restructures Leadership Team

New strategic plan combines EVPMA and Dean’s roles to increase integration, collaboration

Author | Mary Masson

Top photo by Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography; Right photo courtesy of UMHS

The University of Michigan Health System recently announced a new strategic plan that will further integrate its hospitals, health centers, basic science research departments and the U-M Medical School. 


The plan, outlined during a recent Board of Regents meeting by President Mark Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D., and Marschall Runge, M.D., Ph.D., will include increased integration and collaboration. Runge, currently the university's executive vice president for medical affairs, or EVPMA, will assume additional responsibility as dean of the Medical School. Schlissel noted that bringing together the EVPMA and dean roles will naturally increase collaboration between faculty and staff in the Medical School and their colleagues in hospitals and health centers. 

Schlissel thanked current Medical School Dean James Woolliscroft, M.D. (Residency 1980), for his nearly 40 years of service to the university, praising his innovation in redesigning the Medical School curriculum and the school's consistent top ranking among U.S. medical schools. 

Schlissel said greater integration will help the university's health system better respond to rapid changes in the health care industry and to ongoing competitive challenges. 

"We are living in one of the most dynamic periods for health care in the last century, and possibly in human history," he said. "We have more to offer patients than ever before, especially at academic medical centers such as ours. Our ability to stay competitive depends on our ability to attract and retain the best faculty, compete successfully for research funding and deliver high quality, in-demand medical care in a cost-efficient manner. These factors place an increased premium on our ability to work across our institution in a seamless, integrated, collaborative fashion." 

Regents also approved two new health system positions, as proposed. David Spahlinger, M.D., will be promoted to executive vice dean for clinical affairs and president of the hospitals, health centers and the U-M Medical Group. Spahlinger currently is senior associate dean and head of the faculty group practice and oversees the ambulatory care centers. T. Anthony Denton, J.D., M.H.A., currently acting CEO of the hospitals and health centers, will become senior vice president and chief operating officer for hospitals, health centers and the U-M Medical Group. He will report to Spahlinger. 

In recommending these changes, Runge said that strong leaders are essential for the future as the health system pursues strategic priorities designed to help the system operate as a single enterprise. 

"Critical to our success," Runge says, "is our ability to attract and cultivate strong leaders. We must have leaders who are change agents, willing to take risks, encourage innovation and who can turn new ideas into daily practice." 

The leadership changes will take effect Jan. 1. As the health system continues a process of assessment and review of priorities, additional top leaders will be named in academic affairs and education programs, the research enterprise and information technology. 

"We have the energy, resources and talent to re-establish a performance record that reflects continuous improvement and innovation," Runge says. "Now is the time to do this by focusing on enterprise-wide collaboration that will strengthen our performance in our hospitals and health centers, Medical School and research facilities. Doing this should lead to better patient care."

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