UTRGV names new medical school dean

EDINBURG — University of Texas Rio Grande Valley officials tapped a veteran of one of the top medical schools in the country for the new dean of the School of Medicine on Thursday.

Dr. John Krouse, of Temple University in Philadelphia, will lead the new school as dean and vice president for medical affairs.

“Temple has traditionally been ranked as one of the top research-oriented medical schools in the nation, so to attract someone of Dr. Krouse’s caliber is a credit to the faculty, staff and students we already have in place,” said UTRGV President Guy Bailey in a news release.

Krouse holds the positions of senior associate dean for clinical affairs and president of Temple University Physicians, among other titles, and he will take over the position on July 1, relieving interim Dean Dr. Steven Lieberman who was also a top candidate for the role.

Dr. Lieberman filled the position since July 2016, after founding Dean Dr. Francisco Fernandez stepped down. The official search for the new dean began in the fall and Krouse was one of four top candidates to visit the campus and meet with UTRGV administrators, students and staff.

“It is uncommon that new medical schools are opened, and to play a role in the development of this new college is a personal and professional honor and privilege,” Krouse said in the news release.

Dr. Lieberman will remain with UTRGV School of Medicine for several months to assist with the transition, the release states. Lieberman served as dean for administration and professor of internal medicine at the UT Medical Branch in Galveston, and came to the Valley as part of an agreement between the two institutions. It is still unclear whether he will be returning to UTMB-Galveston after the transition.

The search was led by a 29-member committee formed in November and co-chaired by Dr. Kenneth Shine, consultant to the president of UTRGV, and Dr. Michael Lehker, dean of the UTRGV College of Health Affairs. It included 13 UTRGV faculty and staff and 16 external members including McAllen Mayor Jim Darling and Dr. Carlos Cardenas, chief administrative officer at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance.

“An accomplished leader and administrator, Dr. Krouse has demonstrated extraordinary skills in developing educational and clinical programs, recruiting faculty, leading research efforts and in commitment to community,” Shine said. “He is a proverbial ‘quadruple threat.’”

The School of Medicine received provisional accreditation in October 2015 and accepted its first cohort of 55 students in 2016. The expectation is to eventually have a full cohort of about 220 students. For now, the main issues facing the long-awaited school have been mainly financial with a tight state budget that will more than likely cut its funding for the next biennium and several Hidalgo County cities that have backtracked promises to allocate funding for the institution.

For Bailey, the main goal was to find candidates with enough experience to lead the newly created school and deal with some of the nuances or complications that might arise in the process.

“You look at these factors: If the person understands the accreditation process well, medical education and residency programs, research and research infrastructure, clinical operations, affiliations with partner hospitals and practice plans. … Those seven areas are absolutely key,” Bailey said in an interview last month.