March 28, 2007
Contact: Anna Farneski
Phone: (973) 972-3000
UMDNJ Board of Trustees Selects New President
Dr. William F. Owen Jr. named University’s fifth leader
NEWARK — The Board of Trustees of the University of Medicine and Dentistry today voted unanimously to engage Dr. William F. Owen Jr. as the University's fifth president. Dr. Owen is currently Chancellor of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center based in Memphis, Tenn., the largest academic health center in the southeastern United States and Vice President for Health Affairs for the University of Tennessee. Dr. Owen is an accomplished researcher and clinician. His clinical experience includes 12 years as a clinical and academic staff physician with Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. His academic career includes 25 years of experience with Harvard Medical School and Duke University
As a research scientist, Dr. Owen has garnered approximately ten million dollars in external funding and has published in approximately 200 journal articles, scientific reviews and editorials; 23 book chapters; and two books on dialysis and transplantation. He was appointed to the new, national End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Advisory Board by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Also, he was elected to the national board of directors of the American Association of Kidney Patients, which represents 12,000 members nationally.
Other positions he has recently held include: national board member and past president for the Renal Physicians Association, medical advisory board member for the American Association of Kidney Patients, president of the Renal Education Foundation, and member of the Association of academic Health Centers' newly formed Policy Assembly .
Dr. Owen was chosen by the UMDNJ Board of Trustees after a nationwide search by a prestigious search committee chaired by Dr. Harold Shapiro, the former President of Princeton University and, earlier, of the University of Michigan. With the assistance of a professional search firm, the credentials of over 300 candidates were reviewed. The committee eventually narrowed the number to 17 and 12 candidates were invited for interviews. Thereafter, 3 finalists were selected. After further interviews and extensive visits to, and widespread consultation with faculty, students and staff, at UMDNJ campuses, the committee recommended all 3 finalists to the Board and the Board thereafter made its selection.
Search Committee Chairman Harold Shapiro commented: "To the great satisfaction of the search committee, a considerable number of highly qualified candidates demonstrated great interest in the Presidency of UMDNJ. Among these, however, Dr. Owen's vision of what was possible for UMDNJ's future and his commitment to medical education, biomedical research, and community service along with his demonstrated capacity for leadership in challenging situations made him our first choice. Moreover, our sense of excitement was also reflected in the response of students, faculty and staff who met with him during his visits to UMDNJ campuses. I look forward to working with Dr. Owen and other leaders throughout the UMDNJ community to fully realize the full potential of UMDNJ."
Robert Del Tufo, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, concurred in Dr. Shapiro's remarks and added: "I, along with all Board members, am proud and gratified that we have such a dynamic and talented new leader. We have the right person. Under Dr. Owen's executive leadership, with the assistance of a committed, reconstituted Board which , with the cooperative assistance of Judge Herbert Stern and his staff, has made positive forward strides, the University will continue its forward progress and rightfully claim its status as the nation's leading health sciences University."
"On behalf of the Board of Trustees and myself,” Del Tufo continued, "I thank Bruce Vladeck for his significant contribution to UMDNJ. He came upon a chaotic and, in many ways, deplorable situation when he began his tenure as Interim President last March. Without hesitation, he plunged right in and, with his administrative skills, substantive knowledge, leadership qualities, integrity and affable manner, contributed to the positive steps taken by the University – steps which must be continued, supplemented and implemented under Dr. Owen's administration. We also appreciate Dr. Vladeck's willingness to shelve his future career plans once again and to continue to stay at the helm for the next several months to insure continuity of leadership."
Dr. Owen's appointment was heralded by Governor Jon Corzine, United States Attorney Chris Christie and Judge Herbert Stern, the federally appointed Monitor overseeing the operation of UMDNJ.
Governor Corzine said: "For decades, UMDNJ has been known for providing world-class education to its students and outstanding service to New Jersey families and communities. And today, by announcing Dr. William Owen to be the next president, the Board of Trustees of UMDNJ continues that proud tradition. Dr. Owen has distinguished himself as an accomplished and experienced administrator, and I have no doubt that he will complete the necessary reforms to usher in a new era of excellence and integrity at this great institution."
"I also want to commend Dr. Bruce C. Vladeck for his distinguished service and achievement over the last year,” the Governor added. “While working with the new board and the monitor, Dr. Vladeck again proved to be a talented administrator whose expertise in healthcare and policy was an invaluable service to the community."
United States Attorney Chris Christie stated: " Both personally and as a government official, I have a keen interest in seeing UMDNJ operated honestly and effectively. My federal monitor, Judge Stern, feels this way as well. Over the past year, Judge Stern and the new Board of Trustees have worked cooperatively to turn the tide and to achieve positive results. The appointment of Dr. Owen reflects a further step in UMDNJ's forward progress. Dr. Owen brings great skills and experience to this position. I am confident that his leadership will extend the integrity and transparency of the university's operations."
Judge Stern said: "I welcome Dr. Owen and have confidence in his leadership skills and professional credentials. My staff and I have worked hard and effectively and, with the cooperation of the reconstituted Board of Trustees, forward strides have been made. With Dr. Owen at the helm, and with positive oversight by the Board, I am confident that the university's reforms will continue and be fully realized."
Reference information gathered by the Search Committee from a multitude of disciplines unanimously described Dr. Owen as an outstanding talent and leader. Comments praised his "people skills", his "ability to work with state and local officials" and the "state legislature", his "high integrity", his strength and "toughness" and his ability to "recruit great talent for a solid "management team. Indeed, at Tennessee Dr. Owen confronted and resolved problems of structure, execution, accountability and vision which needed, and still need, attention at UMDNJ. Of particular interest to UMDNJ in light of its past problems and its current reorientation under a new Board of Trustees were comments about Dr. Owen's proven ability to solve different problems and to move an institution in the right direction:
"Bill demonstrated in Memphis that he can come into a turnabout situation and make things happen fast."
"Bill walked into a troubled environment, found the hidden problems and methodically began to correct the problems."
"Bill is a change agent."
"Bill walked into an extremely difficult situation with multiple leadership vacancies at the University of Tennessee and began to methodically tackle these issues."
An October 2006 annual Audit Report of the University President and Chancellors criticized certain expenses incurred, and reimbursements sought, by Dr. Owen at the outset of his tenure at the University. The Report was reviewed by the UMDNJ Board, the United States Attorney, the federal Monitor and Governor's counsel, all of whom agreed that the events identified in the Report were minor, stemmed largely from a lack of proper communication of University of Tennessee policies and did not reflect upon Dr. Owen's integrity and leadership capacity.
Prior to his position at the University of Tennessee, Dr. Owen served for three years as chief scientist for Baxter Healthcare Corporation's Renal division in McGaw Park, Ill. while also holding an adjunct appointment as professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine. He was a senior scholar at Duke's Fuqua School of Business in its health sector management program.
Dr. Owen has a bachelor's degree from Brown University in Providence, R.I., and a Doctor of Medicine degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. He completed an internship and residency in medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, as well as fellowships in nephrology, transplantation and immunology. In addition, Dr. Owen worked with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the National Institutes of Health on several advisory and monitoring committees. He has twice been recognized in Marquis' Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare and was honored as a Medal of Excellence finalist in 2004 by the American Association of Kidney Patients.
Dr. Owen and his wife, Alice, have two children: Lauren, age 20, and William F. Owen, III, age 16.
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.