(July 9, 2008)
Dr. Paul R.G. Cunningham, a former faculty member and administrator at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, has been named dean of the medical school and senior associate vice chancellor for medical affairs.
Cunningham returns to ECU from the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse where he has been chair of the Department of Surgery for the past six years. He was a faculty member at ECU for 21 years before leaving in 2002 to assume the position in Syracuse. He will begin his duties at ECU on Sept. 15.
Chancellor Steve Ballard, announcing the appointment, said: "Paul Cunningham is exactly the right choice to lead the Brody School of Medicine. He is a highly accomplished, widely respected physician. He is familiar with the school's mission and with the health care challenges facing this region and state, and he is a former chief of staff of our teaching hospital.
"Most importantly, Dr. Cunningham has the leadership skills and strength of character to assure excellence in the Brody school," Ballard added. "I am delighted that he has accepted our offer to return to ECU.
"I also want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Phyllis Horns, the interim vice chancellor for health sciences who has also been serving as interim dean of the medical school. Her leadership has been invaluable," the chancellor said.
Horns also expressed excitement with the selection of Cunningham. "I could not be more pleased to welcome Paul Cunningham as the fifth dean of the Brody School of Medicine," she said. "He is extraordinarily well-prepared for this leadership role and brings a wealth of experience that is needed for the school's future growth. His insights and partnership will be invaluable to the development of the Health Sciences Division at ECU at a time when the division's growth is unprecedented, including the addition of a new School of Dentistry."
Cunningham cited growth at the medical school, strong university leadership and the chance to further the medical school's mission -- producing primary care doctors, educating minority and disadvantaged students and improving the health status of eastern North Carolina -- as reasons he is happy to return to Greenville.
"Based on all of the information that we received on each of our visits, and with the visible physical evidence of growth on the health campus, it is clear that there are exciting opportunities that will allow those stated missions to achieve their full evolution: measureable positive statistics in the health indices for eastern North Carolina," Cunningham said.
A native of Jamaica, Cunningham is a medical graduate of the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. He also completed surgery training there, at Mount Sinai Hospital, Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital and City Hospital at Elmhurst, all in New York City.
After training, Cunningham remained in New York to begin his career as a surgeon and then moved to the Bertie County town of Windsor in northeastern North Carolina in 1981. He practiced there, was vice chief of the medical staff at Bertie Memorial Hospital and taught ECU medical students who rotated through his practice. Cunningham joined the ECU faculty full time in 1984 and became medical director of trauma the following year. He also was interim director of the organ transplant division from 1990-1991 and chief of the medical staff at Pitt County Memorial Hospital in 1991.
Cunningham rose to professor of surgery in 1993 and was chief of general surgery from 1999-2002. From 1990-1998, he also served as a major in the Army Reserve Medical Corps.
Dr. Walter Pories, a professor and former chair of surgery who recruited Cunningham to ECU in the 1980s, called Cunningham a role model, an excellent teacher and physician and a skillful leader.
"I think we're fortunate to have, first of all, so