KU Medical Center chief to step down

Dr. Barbara Atkinson announces she will retire in December 2013

0 | KU Medical Center

— Dr. Barbara Atkinson, University of Kansas executive vice chancellor and dean of the medical school, has announced she will step down in December 2013.

In an email sent to KU staff, Atkinson said:

"I am beginning to map out the final stage of an enormously rewarding career. As we complete the finishing touches to our year-long strategic planning process, the chancellor and I have agreed that I will step down as dean of the School of Medicine. In an effort to provide a seamless transition and a thoughtful succession plan, I have agreed to serve as the EVC (executive vice chancellor) for another two years until December 2013. The process for selecting the new dean will begin immediately."

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Dr. Barbara Atkinson

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Atkinson has been dean of the medical school since 2002 and executive vice chancellor of the KU Medical Center since 2005.

She said in her remaining months she would focus on four main goals:

Obtaining National Cancer Institute designation

KU submitted its application for NCI designation in September. NCI reviewers have scheduled a site visit for Feb. 22, 2012.

"We should know whether we receive the designation in early summer 2012," Atkinson wrote. "We are well aware that not all cancer centers receive designation on their first try. Should that be the case for us, we will immediately begin making plans to meet the NCI's recommendations and seek a new application date."

Opening a school of public health

Last year, the Kansas Board of Regents approved KU's plan to create a school of public health. KU is working to raise $5 million to hire a dean and launch the school.

Expand KU Medical Center

Atkinson said as part of KU's effort to deal with the state's "severe shortage of physicians," it wants to increase class size at its Kansas City campus by 50 students. She said that will require building a new facility to accommodate them and meet accreditation standards.

Strengthening ties to Wyandotte County

Atkinson said the medical school was "proud to be a partner in Mayor Joe Reardon's Healthy Communities Wyandotte, a county-wide initiative that brings together leaders and citizens from across the community to improve overall health."

Several faculty members are involved and the medical center is "working with Google Inc. to determine ways in which its new high-speed fiber can be used to enhance existing programs and create new ways to improve public health. We believe that successes in Wyandotte County can serve as models for cities and counties throughout the state of Kansas."