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Penn State splits roles of health system, med school leadership

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Penn State Health CEO and Penn State College of Medicine Dean Craig Hillemeier will be the last leader of Penn State Health to also lead the College of Medicine.
Penn State Health CEO and Penn State College of Medicine Dean Craig Hillemeier will be the last leader of Penn State Health to also lead the College of Medicine. - (Photo / )

Leadership roles at Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine, previously held by one person, are expected to be divided among two people going forward.

The decision to split the jobs follows news that Penn State Health CEO and Penn State College of Medicine Dean Craig Hillemeier is retiring this summer.

Having one leader oversee both Derry Township-based organizations has grown difficult as Penn State Health expands into a large multi-hospital health system. The model of a single leader is used by only 10 percent of university health systems, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Eric Barron, Penn State's president, said in a statement that both the medical school and the health system are in need of leaders who can be fully focused on the goals and needs of each organization.

“Health care and academic medicine are changing dramatically and the responsibilities associated with this role have evolved and become more diverse over time,” he said.

The split was approved last month by the Penn State Health board of directors last month. Penn State University’s board of trustees finalized the decision on Friday.

Hillemeier has been both CEO and dean since 2014. During that time, he oversaw the creation of a new curriculum for the medical school, the rebranding of the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to Penn State Health and a successful partnership with Highmark Health.

Penn State Health’s new CEO is expected to focus on the growth of the health system and its facilities including St. Joseph Medical Center, Hershey Medical Center, Penn State Health Medical Group and the Hampden Medical Center in Cumberland County.

The new College of Medicine dean, will take over the education and research portion of the university health system along with managing the College of Medicine and its relationships with Penn State’s other health sciences colleges.

“I am confident this new leadership model will support a variety of goals integral to the mission of our comprehensive health network,” Hillemeier said.

The university is still working on the transition plan for its new leadership and has not yet announced how and when it will appoint the new roles.

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Ioannis Pashakis

Ioannis Pashakis

Ioannis Pashakis covers health care and Lancaster County. Email him at ipashakis@cpbj.com.

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