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A message from the chancellor on changes to senior management

Posted Monday, March 30, 2009.

Dear Colleagues,

It is with regret that I write to let you know that Dr. Harry Jacobson, vice chancellor for health affairs, has informed me of his decision to retire, effective June 1, 2009. His retirement will be a significant moment in the history of the medical center, and I am personally grateful to Harry for his guidance and counsel during my first year as Chancellor. For many years, he has been an extraordinary colleague and good friend.

I cannot overemphasize Harry’s accomplishments of the past 12 years during which he has led the medical center. Under his leadership, Vanderbilt has become the premier health care institution in our region and is recognized as one of the best in the country. Those accomplishments are the result of Harry’s bold vision and laser focus on delivering unsurpassed health care at every level. His unyielding support of cutting-edge research has distinguished Vanderbilt as an institution that knows no bounds in advancing scientific and medical discoveries.

By nearly every measure, Harry has met and exceeded goals that have served to advance the academic and patient care missions of Vanderbilt. Harry has presided over a period of unprecedented growth and has built a highly successful business enterprise at the medical center. At the same time, he has been a passionate and articulate advocate for academic medical centers and has been creative in addressing the challenges they face.

Many of you have worked closely with Harry over the years and know of his commitment to the well-being of faculty and staff at the medical center. He has worked tirelessly to ensure that Vanderbilt is the employer of choice in Middle Tennessee.

Harry leaves a deep and abiding mark on this great medical center, and I assure you we will appropriately and officially celebrate and acknowledge his many successes in the days to come.

With Harry’s decision to retire, we must begin the transition to new leadership at the medical center, and I am pleased to announce that Dr. Jeff Balser, dean of the School of Medicine, will succeed Harry as vice chancellor for health affairs. Harry and Jeff have made a formidable team as senior leaders at the medical center, and Harry has mentored and prepared Jeff for this new role.

Jeff has a keen intellect and has served with distinction in every leadership role he has assumed at Vanderbilt. Jeff knows and understands Vanderbilt’s culture and is committed to the core principles, values and missions of our institution and our community. I have the utmost confidence in Jeff’s ability to move every part of the medical center forward and to continue the path of progress that Harry has blazed.

Jeff received his M.D. and Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Vanderbilt in 1990. He trained as a resident in anesthesiology and fellow in critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins University, where he joined the faculty in 1995. He returned to Vanderbilt in 1998 and has served as associate dean for physician scientist career development, the James Tayloe Gwathmey Professor and Chair of Anesthesiology, associate vice chancellor for research and interim dean of the School of Medicine. Last year in October, not only was Jeff elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, he was named the dean of the Vanderbilt School of Medicine and will continue to serve the university in that role as he begins discussion with his many colleagues about the future structure and governance of our outstanding School of Medicine.

Please join me in thanking Harry for his outstanding service and leadership and in congratulating Jeff on his new leadership role.

Sincerely,
Nicholas S. Zeppos
Chancellor