Dr. Cynda Johnson, a family physician, will begin her new job as dean of the Brody School of Medicine Nov. 1. She comes to Greenville from the University of Iowa. Photo by Cliff Hollis
(Aug. 21, 2003)
Dr. Cynda Johnson, a family physician with a passion for rural health care and research, has been named dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.
Johnson, 52, becomes one of 11 women at the helm of one of the nation's 126 accredited medical schools. She will begin at ECU Nov. 1.
Since 1999, Johnson has been professor and head of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. She is also director of the University of Iowa Family Care Center, the clinical site for family medicine, general medicine and pediatrics.
From her office in Iowa City, Johnson said she is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for her as dean of the Brody School of Medicine. As chairman of her department, she said, ads for leadership positions at medical schools across the country pass through her office. "The ad from ECU caught my eye. It was very specific and in concert with my interests," she said. "And during my visits to the school, I saw that the faculty seem to truly believe in the mission."
As chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Iowa, Johnson has built a research program to a significant level of funded research. "I think I can take some of those same efforts to ECU," she said.
Dr. Michael Lewis, ECU vice chancellor for health sciences, described some of the qualities that led to Johnson being selected as the new dean. "Dr. Johnson has a strong understanding of issues relating to rural health and primary care medicine," Lewis said. "I believe she will bring new ideas and abilities to move our research initiatives at the Brody School of Medicine forward to foster new discoveries so important in providing quality health care."
Lewis said he was impressed with Johnson's understanding of the importance of the three-part mission at the medical school: educating primary care physicians, making medical care more readily available to the residents of eastern North Carolina, and providing opportunities to minority and disadvantaged students.
Visiting the medical school in July, Johnson spoke to faculty and staff about her experience as chairman in Iowa. She also expressed her admiration for the school. "It's about the mission. It's what makes this place special," she said. "Don't lose sight of the mission."
As dean, Johnson will work closely with leaders of Pitt County Memorial Hospital and University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina.
"Dr. Johnson was impressed with the growth of school and the medical center," Lewis said. "She also said she looked forward to working with the other schools in the Division of Health Sciences and working with the leadership at our outstanding teaching hospital."
Dr. Nicholas Benson, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine, led the dean search committee for the medical school. Benson said the committee was impressed with the skills that Johnson will bring as dean.
"I think that Dr. Johnson brings an enthusiasm and personal commitment for the mission of the school that went beyond any of the other candidates," Benson said. "Her preparation as a department chair and leader of primary care and of the practice plan at the University of Iowa give her the experience to do an excellent job as the next dean."
Benson added: "The search committee carefully evaluated several dozen applications to select the most highly qualified people to invite for interviews. The dedication and energy of the search committee really created a foundation for bringing the best possible slate of finalists to Dr. Lewis."
Deborah Davis, president of PCMH, the teaching hospital of the Brody School of Medicine, said she quickly developed a "great rapport" with Johnson during Johnson's visits to Greenville and looks forward to working with the new dean on matters related to edu