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UA senior leadership says UA sees a normal amount of employee departures

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Tom Price
Janice Cervelli

The departure of six senior leadership members from the UA College of Medicine—Phoenix has prompted the Arizona Medical Association to ask the Arizona Board of Regents to launch an independent investigation.

At their June 4 meeting, AMA approved a vote of “no confidence” in the UA Health Sciences’ administrations because of their “oversight” of the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix.

Dr. Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, senior vice president of UA Health Sciences, said he doesn’t think it’s optimal for the entire dean’s leadership team to leave, but it’s normal in academic medicine.

“The movement in academic medicine of teams and leaders is so very common,” Garcia said, who pointed out that he himself worked in a number of different places before moving to the UA.

Andrew Comrie, UA provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said it’s not unusual to see more than one departure, and that even Dr. Garcia brought a few people from Illinois when he was hired at the UA.

Stuart Flynn, former dean of UA College of Medicine-Phoenix, announced in April he’d be leaving the college to become a dean of a new medical school in Texas. Four of his colleagues will be joining him there and one other employee will be leaving for a different school.

RELATED: Dean of the UA College of Medicine- Phoenix moves on

Garcia said when the dean of the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix wants to leave and start a new medical school in Texas, he’s going to want to have a team he can trust to do that.

“They are a very talented group and we wish them well, but this gives us an opportunity to bring in new talent from the outside,” Garcia said.

Garcia added that because AMA is mostly private practice doctors, they found the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix departures to be destabilizing because they don’t have the experience in academic medicine to understand the normality of it.

Even before the departure of senior leadership in Phoenix the UA has seen its fair share of employees leaving.

In the last few years UA has seen the departure of deans from the College of Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture, Eller College of Management and the James E. Rogers College of Law.

RELATED: Dean of Architecture to assume the presidency of St. Mary’s College

The UA however has also hired people to not only fill those positions but newly created positions as well. Many of those hired came from other institutions and had to relocate, including Rebecca Tsosie, the newly hired special adviser to the provost for diversity and inclusion, who was hired away from Arizona State University.

RELATED: UA doubles up and hires both Jesus Trevino and Rebecca Tsosie to fill open chief diversity office spot

Comrie said they have around 1,600 tenure track faculty and only see somewhere between 50-75 faculty departing and being hired.

“There’s no indication that more people are leaving the UA then they did last year or the year before,” said Lynn Nadel, regents’ professor of psychology and chair of Faculty Senate. “It’s pretty steady, there’s always a certain amount of people coming and going in the academic world.”

Nadel said departures at UA fit into a normal range, even with presidents, adding that he’s been through six presidents in his time at the university.

RELATED: Ann Weaver Hart to leave position as UA president in 2018

“When folks get plucked away from the UA for senior leadership positions at other institutions it’s a form of flattery,” Nadel said. “Yes it’s not good that we lose them, but it certainly tells us something when other good institutions want our people, that’s a sign we’re doing something right.”

Comrie said all universities are sort of like teams who are all competing for the very best mix, making the faculty at some level free agents.

“We do the very best to keep folks here but in some situations the opportunity is really great elsewhere. We’ll lose a few but we’ll take in a few each year,” Comrie said. “We’re diligent in making sure we’re keeping the highest faculty we can because we’re in this nationally competitive market.”


Follow Chastity Laskey on Twitter.


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