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Search committee names Michael F. Collins, MD, finalist for Medical School chancellorship

BOSTON -- The University of Massachusetts Medical School Chancellor Search Committee today recommended that Michael F. Collins, MD, become the permanent Chancellor of the University's Medical School campus.

Dr. Collins, 53, who currently serves as the University's senior vice president for health sciences and as interim Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), previously served as Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston and as president and chief executive officer of Caritas Christi Health Care System.

The 23-member University of Massachusetts Medical School Search Committee was unanimous in its recommendation, with committee Chairman Philip W. Johnston describing Collins as "an experienced and effective leader, a leader with a vision" and as "the clear choice."

"This search committee has worked hard, has surveyed the higher education landscape and is firm in its position that Dr. Collins will be an effective leader as the Medical School seeks to push the boundaries of medical-education and research-and-discovery excellence," said Johnston, who also serves as a University of Massachusetts Trustee.

"Michael Collins is one of the foremost public leaders we have in the Commonwealth," Johnston added.

"This committee has thought carefully, has worked diligently and earnestly, and believes that the University of Massachusetts Medical School is stepping forward to make a major contribution to the Commonwealth and to the world. The Medical School's potential is unlimited - and we believe that Michael Collins' leadership will allow us to realize our full potential. Michael Collins is a bridge-builder, he has a great vision for this institution," said the committee's vice chair, Nobel Laureate Craig C. Mello, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and UMMS professor of molecular medicine and cell biology.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School Chancellor Search Committee was established in February and was asked to play a key role in the selection of a permanent successor to former Chancellor Aaron Lazare, who stepped down as Chancellor last year but continues to serve as the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor in
Medical Education and professor of psychiatry at the Medical School.

The search committee met five times, held 10 constituency-group input meetings, reviewed the credentials of numerous candidates and interviewed candidates during the six-month search. The executive recruitment firm of Isaacson, Miller of Boston assisted the committee in the search process, interacting with more than 100 candidates and potential candidates in the process.

Now that the search committee has issued its recommendation, there are two more steps in the appointment process: UMass President Jack M. Wilson's making a recommendation to the UMass Board of Trustees and the Board's voting on the president's recommendation.

Describing the committee as "diligent and dedicated to the Medical School's best interests," President Wilson thanked the members of the search panel for their service.

"I deeply appreciate the work that this committee has done, work that has led to the selection of an exceptional candidate for this critical leadership position," President Wilson said. "Chairman Johnston, Vice Chair Mello and their colleagues on the search committee have served the University in an exemplary fashion."

"This committee approached its task seriously and with a sense of great purpose," President Wilson said.

Dr. Collins has served as interim Chancellor of UMMS and as UMass system senior vice president for health sciences for the past year. As senior vice president for health sciences, he is charged with leading strategic initiatives to further the University's efforts in the Commonwealth's critical life sciences industry. As interim Chancellor, Dr. Collins, a clinical professor of medicine, provides direction and leadership to the campus' continuing efforts to distinguish itself as a premier academic health sciences center of national distinction.

Dr. Collins served as chancellor of UMass Boston in 2005 and 2006. In that role he was charged with overseeing an institution renowned for its access to excellence and its diversity. Before joining UMass Boston, Dr. Collins served as president and chief executive officer of Caritas Christi Health Care System from 1994 to 2004. Under his leadership, Caritas Christi became the second-largest health care system in New England.

A board-certified physician in internal medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Dr. Collins has held a number of faculty and academic leadership positions over the course of his career, first at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, where his posts included assistant professor of Internal Medicine and assistant dean for Patient Care Resources, and at Tufts University, where he served as clinical professor of Internal Medicine and associate dean of Government and Medical Affairs in the School of Medicine and as a senior fellow, University College of Citizenship and Public Service.

Dr. Collins is a 1977 cum laude graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, where he served as chair of the board of trustees from 2002-2008. He is a 1981 graduate of Tufts University School of Medicine. He and his wife, Maryellen, have two children, Michael F. Collins, Jr., and Elizabeth M. Collins.

Members of the search committee said that Dr. Collins has been an effective leader during his year as interim Chancellor and offers a unique blend of experience and ability.

"It is very clear from the perspective of the UMass Medical School campus community that Dr. Collins' outstanding personal and professional attributes and leadership abilities have already created tremendous momentum towards reaching our shared goals. The specific accomplishments of the past year have included bringing the campus together to create our strategic plan, further enhancing our partnerships with the clinical system and the other UMass campuses, and providing a bold vision for how the governor's Life Sciences Initiative can be made relevant to the health of the people of Massachusetts. The attributes of honesty, integrity and transparency that Dr. Collins has displayed bode well for his ability to lead us through whatever challenges and opportunities may lie ahead for UMMS," said Terence R. Flotte, MD, dean of the School of Medicine and provost and executive deputy chancellor.

Michael P. Czech, MD, Professor and Chair of the Program in Molecular Medicine, said: "Michael Collins combines great passion for the Medical School's future ambitions with a keen intellect that will be needed to guide us through the next exciting phase of expansion."

"Michael Collins has the passion, the experience and the leadership ability needed to bring UMass Medical School to new levels of national and international prominence," said R. Norman Peters, a Worcester attorney, community leader and member of the UMass Foundation Board of Directors.

Bharath D. Nath, a UMMS student member of the search committee, said: "Dr. Collins' leadership is inspirational to the campus. As a student, I am very proud to support his nomination."

Trustee Johnston, the chairman of the search committee, noted that President Wilson has the right to come back to the committee for additional names if he is unable to negotiate an appropriate arrangement based on the recommendation provided.

The University of Massachusetts Worcester was created in 1962 by an act of the Massachusetts Legislature to enable state residents to study medicine at an affordable cost and to increase the number of primary care physicians practicing in underserved areas of the state. The School of Medicine accepted its first class of 16 students in 1970 and now accepts 100 students per class. Today the 67-acre campus is comprised of the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (opened in 1979), and the Graduate School of Nursing (opened in 1986).

The Medical School consistently ranks among the top medical schools in the country for primary care. One of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, UMMS attracts more than $176 million in research funding annually and is on the leading edge of medical research into human disease and treatment. The work of Mello and his colleague Andrew Z. Fire, PhD, then of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, toward the discovery of RNA interference was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and has spawned a new and promising field of research.

UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health-care provider in Central Massachusetts. The Medical School's 6,200 employees generate more than $700 million in revenue and make major contributions to communities throughout the Commonwealth.

Contact: Robert P. Connolly


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