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Horns to serve as interim vice chancellor and interim dean of the Brody School of Medicine

November 14, 2006

East Carolina University Chancellor Steve Ballard has announced leadership changes designed to strengthen the university's research and fund-raising capabilities and to more aggressively realize several opportunities for growth.

"These changes will help us improve our effectiveness and efficiency," Ballard said. "The individuals involved are all exceptionally capable and fully committed professionals. They know how to move the institution forward, and I am very pleased to be able to make these announcements."

The changes:

Dr. Phyllis Horns, longtime dean of the School of Nursing, has been named interim vice chancellor for health sciences. She will also serve as interim dean of the Brody School of Medicine.

Dr. Michael Lewis, vice chancellor for health sciences, will report to the chancellor as executive assistant, charged with directing strategy for developing support, partnerships and resources for critical health sciences initiatives such as the proposed dental school, indigent care funding and other key development opportunities.

Dr. Cynda Johnson, dean of the medical school, has been named senior associate vice chancellor for clinical and translational research in the Division of Research and Graduate Studies. She will be responsible for stimulating and encouraging collaborative research efforts and promoting development of interdisciplinary research opportunities in the clinical and health sciences.

Dr. Nicholas Benson, senior associate dean for operations at the medical school, will assume the additional role of vice dean for the school and will be in charge of much of the day-to-day operations of the school.

Dr. Sylvia Brown, associate dean for graduate programs in the School of Nursing, will assume the additional role of acting dean for the school.

Carole Novick, interim associate vice chancellor for health sciences fund raising and interim president of the ECU Medical Foundation, will continue in those roles, but will now report to Mickey Dowdy, ECU's vice chancellor for advancement.

Ballard said, "Phyllis Horns is widely known on our campus and in the health sciences education community. She is an effective and admired leader and I am grateful that she has accepted this assignment."

Horns, the senior dean at ECU, previously served as interim vice chancellor for health sciences in 2001-02 and was also responsible for logistics for the last two chancellor searches at the university. Her school is the leading producer of nurses in North Carolina and recently established a doctoral program to help increase the number of nursing faculty members for colleges and universities.

"Dr. Horns has an exceptional breadth and depth of experience," Ballard said. "Her knowledge and insights will be especially valuable as we continue to create new organizational approaches and innovative business practices for the medical school and the Health Sciences Division. She can and must make us leaner, more aggressive and more productive. I have no doubt that she will succeed."

ECU in the summer announced the beginning of what is expected to be a multi-year effort to restore financial strength to the Medical Faculty Practice Plan, the clinical arm of the medical school through which faculty members offer medical care and services to the community. The faculty group practice is known as ECU Physicians.

"A strong practice plan is absolutely essential to the well-being of the medical school, and a strong medical school is essential to the health of the university and the citizens of eastern North Carolina," Ballard said. "We are a national leader in bringing superb health care to underserved populations, and I expect us to continue to build on this capacity."

He said Horns will work closely with Kevin Seitz, the vice chancellor for administration and finance, and the ECG consulting group. Seitz will continue to oversee the Practice Plan.

Ballard said he asked Lewis to assume new duties because of the importance of the dental school to ECU and because of several opportunities ahead of the university. "Dr. Lewis understands our huge opportunities related to dental education, to acquiring funding for tier-one programs, to expanding programs in math and science education, and to ensuring better funding and reimbursements for indigent care," Ballard said.

The chancellor said Lewis' success and experience in directing efforts to establish the East Carolina Heart Institute and the new dental school make him the ideal person to spearhead initiatives that will ultimately improve the health of eastern North Carolinians. "Such efforts require the assistance of local, state and federal agencies as well as the private sector, and I look forward to working with Mike Lewis to make sure we succeed in these endeavors," Ballard said. "Dr. Lewis is especially adept at identifying health-care needs and opportunities and developing the strategies that can turn those opportunities into realities.? Ballard said Cynda Johnson, in her new role working with Vice Chancellor Deirdre Mageean will bring extraordinary knowledge, experience and energy to the task of building clinical research strength in the health sciences.

"I am terrifically excited by the possibilities in this field," Ballard said. "Drs. Mageean and Johnson are a dynamic team and exactly the right people to move us ahead in this arena. We have every reason to expect great things from them, particularly in interdisciplinary areas, such as health disparities research, an area in which ECU has substantial expertise. We view this as a strong addition to the rapidly growing research enterprise at ECU."

Ballard said that merging the health sciences fund-raising arm with the central campus will improve both. "Mickey Dowdy ran the development organization in health sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University for a dozen years before joining ECU last summer," Ballard said. "He has great knowledge and ability in that arena, and by combining the two, we will realize significant benefits from collaboration."