February 07, 2012

Nancy Solomon

Visionary Health Leaders Join School of Public Health

Dr. James Kimmey, Ron Levy Mentor Students, Faculty

ST. LOUIS -- The founding dean of the School of Public Health has returned to Saint Louis University as an executive-in-residence.

James Kimmey, M.D.

James R. Kimmey, M.D., who held multiple leadership positions at Saint Louis University and most recently directed the Missouri Foundation for Health, is the School's newest executive-in-residence. He joins Ron Levy, former director of Missouri's Department of Social Services and a past president of SSM St. Louis, who became executive-in-residence last semester.

Edwin Trevathan, M.D., MPH, describes the two as "world champion mentors" - guiding students, faculty and program innovation at SLU School of Public Health.

"These leaders can mentor anyone from the dean to junior faculty to the undergraduate freshman. One of the reason we're so enthused to have these two great men as part of our School of Public Health is that we're in a time of rapid change and rapid growth. We've added more than a dozen new faculty members, new undergraduate programs and our new executives-in-residence help us channel the energy in the School of Public Health," Trevathan said.

Similar to Artist-in-Residence

Modeled after an artist-in-residence program, the executive-in-residence program attracts top leaders in public, private, non-profit and government sectors to the University, where they meet one-on-one with students and faculty, help teach courses, present lectures and suggest strategies to guide the direction of the School.

"The executive-in-residence is not a typical faculty position. These are people who have clearly distinguished themselves as leaders in their fields and stand out on the national and international stage" Trevathan said.

"With decades of experience, they're at the point in their careers when they embrace the chance to share the lessons they learned by mentoring and teaching the next generation of leaders."

Ron Levy

Levy brings to SLU his passion for health management - improving access to health care, protecting the safety net and fostering ethical leadership. Before serving in government as director of human services, as the governor's health policy advisor and health information technology coordinator, Levy held a variety of administrative and leadership roles in the private health care industry for 35 years.

"To be at this stage of my career, being able to share my experience is very rewarding and makes me aware of how fortunate I've been to have had all of these incredible experiences, opportunities and relationships with colleagues and great mentors. Giving back by sharing what I've learned over the years makes this truly a dream job," Levy said.

Kimmey's career, which spans nearly 50 years, demonstrates an unwavering commitment to public health.

After founding the School of Public Health 21 years ago, he served as vice president and chief executive officer of Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center, and executive vice president and chief operating officer of the University. After leaving SLU, Kimmey became the first president and chief executive office of the Missouri Foundation for Health, the state's largest non-governmental funder of community health programs. After a decade, he retired in November.

Health Policy: A Priority

Kimmey's area of expertise is health policy, a subject that is woven throughout the curricular thread of the School of Public Health.

Health policy impacts local and global issues, such as enhancing access to health care, controlling the spread of an infectious disease across borders, preventing exposures to toxic chemicals, regulating what is in the food that we consume and building cities that encourage physical activity.

"Health policy affects how we live today and how we will continue to live tomorrow," Trevathan said. "One key mission of public health is to promote health and prevent death and disability, and yet if disease or poor health develop to find creative ways through policy interventions to restore health. Dr. Kimmey is one of our nation's foremost experts in health policy, and we are very excited that he's back at Saint Louis University."

Kimmey says SLU School of Public Health is quite a bit bigger than when he was dean, leading nine faculty in the early 1990s.

"It's grown appropriately and has robust research and a lot of vibrant new faculty, which bodes well for the future. At the same time, it hasn't lost its community feel and continues to be so consistent with SLU's Jesuit mission and Jesuit history," Kimmey said.

"Public health is going to become of the one fastest growing fields - a bridging and multi-dimensional field between health and social services. We have an opportunity to be a coordinator and leader of responses to complicated problems. It's nice to be back in the academic culture at SLU's School of Public Health, with time to think, cogitate, sort through ideas, write and work with tomorrow's public health leaders."

Accredited since 1991, Saint Louis University School of Public Health is the only accredited school of public health in Missouri. It is one of 47 fully accredited public health schools in the U.S. and the only accredited Jesuit or Catholic school in the nation.

Read about the School of Public Health's new faculty.
Find out about undergraduate public health degrees.
Learn why Ron Levy considers being an executive-in-residence his dream job.
Read about naming the first endowed chair in public health for Dr. James Kimmey.

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