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Alpern to Step Down After Current Term as Dean

December 20, 2018

Robert J. Alpern, MD, dean and Ensign Professor of Medicine, has informed the Yale School of Medicine (YSM) community that he will not seek to serve a fourth five-year term as dean when his current term expires in 2019. Alpern says he will serve as dean until his successor is appointed, and then plans to remain on the Yale faculty and pursue a number of academic interests, including taking to completion the development of a drug that has the potential to transform the care of kidney patients.

Alpern arrived as dean in 2004 after serving since 1998 as dean of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.

Yale President Peter Salovey, PhD, says that Alpern “has advanced YSM’s mission of research, education, and clinical care and positioned it as one of the world’s preeminent medical schools.”

Among the accomplishments that Salovey cites are establishing the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, securing the largest grant in the university’s history through the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, and creating the Yale Stem Cell Center; the Human and Translational Immunology Program; and the Program in Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration, and Repair. Alpern is also noted for recruiting outstanding scientists and developing a stronger working relationship between the school and Yale New Haven Hospital/Health System.

In addition, Alpern has worked to enhance the medical school’s educational program, overseeing the development—and implementation in 2015—of a new medical school curriculum that has better integrated medicine and science, helping to link an in-depth knowledge of biomedical sciences and research with the practice of medicine. He established a teaching and learning center to foster excellence in education by providing expertise and innovation in educator development, assessment, learning technologies, and curriculum design. He also has ensured greater financial resources for medical students at Yale, decreasing the unit loan amount and increasing the income threshold for zero parental contribution.

During his time as dean, Alpern has taken steps to increase diversity, inclusion, and equity, including the recruitment of the school’s inaugural deputy dean for diversity and inclusion. Since 2004, the percentage of women faculty at the school has increased from 29.5 percent to 39.4 percent. Alpern also instituted an annual in-depth review of individual faculty members’ compensation, a process that has resulted in greater salary equity and significant salary increases for numerous faculty members. 

Alpern has overseen and grown the School of Medicine’s financial resources. Under his guidance, the endowment of the school has increased from $1.1 billion to $2.9 billion. The number of ladder faculty at the school has grown from 980 in 2004 to more than 1,600. YSM has climbed from 8th nationally in NIH funding to 6th. Clinical trial revenues have increased from $6 million to more than $40 million, and clinical practice revenues from $280 million to more than $1 billion.   

President Salovey has announced that he will form an advisory committee that will seek broad input from YSM faculty, students, staff, and alumni. A search firm will also be engaged to assist with the succession process.

Submitted by Robert Forman on December 20, 2018