2 vie to lead UNC Med, Health Care

The Herald Sun - - Front Page - BY JOHN MURAWSKI jmu­[email protected]­sob­server.com

The next leader of UNC Health Care, which in­cludes 13 hospi­tals and em­ploys 30,000 peo­ple, and UNC’s pres­ti­gious School of Medicine, is ex­pected to be named next week.

The de­ci­sion will con­clude a na­tional ex­ec­u­tive search that was ac­cel­er­ated by last month’s pro­mo­tion of cur­rent CEO and dean Wil­liam Roper to run the 17-cam­pus UNC sys­tem. Roper, 70, has been CEO of UNC Health Care, dean of the School of Medicine and vice chan­cel­lor for med­i­cal af­fairs since 2004 and will leave the $837,700a-year post months ahead of sched­ule.

As part of a ma­jor ex­ec­u­tive shuf­fle, Roper was named the in­terim re­place­ment for Mar­garet Spellings, who plans to step aside Jan. 15 as the head of the state’s univer­sity sys­tem. But as part of the ex­ec­u­tive search process to find Roper’s suc­ces­sor, Spellings will make a rec­om­men­da­tion on Roper’s re­place­ment to the UNC sys­tem Board of Gover­nors.

Spellings is cur­rently re­view­ing two fi­nal­ists who have been vet­ted by the board of UNC Health Care and by the UNC Board of Trustees, ac­cord­ing to an emailed state­ment from UNC Health Care in re­sponse to ques­tions from The News & Ob­server.

“It is an­tic­i­pated she will make a rec­om­men­da­tion for one of these can­di­dates to be­come the CEO / Dean / Vice Chan­cel­lor by year’s end to the UNC Board of Gover­nors, which must con­firm her rec­om­men­da­tion,” the state­ment said.

The Board of Gover­nors has just one meet­ing sched­uled next week, on Dec. 14, and that is the meet­ing at which they’ll vote on the can­di­date, said Board chair­man Harry Smith. He said the two fi­nal­ists are strong con­tenders se­lected from “a very large ap­pli­cant pool.”

“They’ve had a good process,” Smith said of the ex­ec­u­tive search to re­place Roper. “I re­ally think they squeezed this thing out.”

The two fi­nal­ists have not been an­nounced. But in The News & Ob­server’s dis­cus­sions with knowl­edge­able sources, Dr. A. Wes­ley Burks, ex­ec­u­tive dean for the UNC School of Medicine, has emerged as the lead­ing choice for the po­si­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to UNC’s web-

site, Burks, 64, cur­rently as­sists Roper in “pro­vid­ing over­all aca­demic lead­er­ship for the School of Medicine and the UNC Health Care Sys­tem.” Both Roper and Burks are pe­di­a­tri­cians by train­ing.

Reached by phone, Burks re­ferred ques­tions to com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tive Lisa Schiller. She sum­ma­rized the se­lec­tion process and de­clined to of­fer fur­ther de­tails.

Smith, the Board of Gover­nors chair, would not con­firm that Burks was one of the two fi­nal­ists.

Burks is not as widely known in the health care field as his men­tor and boss, Roper, whom Mod­ern Health­care mag­a­zine has named one of the 100 Most In­flu­en­tial Peo­ple in Health­care six times. Roper was a former ad­min­is­tra­tor of the na­tion’s Medi­care sys­tem un­der Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan and di­rec­tor of the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush. He also ran UNC’s School of Pub­lic Health and was an ex­ec­u­tive in a health in­sur­ance com­pany.

Burks has spent three decades re­search­ing chil­dren’s food al­ler­gies, fo­cus­ing on peanut al­ler­gies and po­ten­tial treat­ments and cures. Last month the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine pub­lished a pa­per by a re­search team led by Burks on a treat­ment that builds up chil­dren’s re­sis­tance to peanuts by grad­ual ex­po­sure to peanut pro­tein. The treat­ment is ex­pected to be ap­proved by the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion this year and avail­able to pa­tients next year.

A. Wes­ley Burks

Wil­liam Roper

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