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President's Message: The Search for SLU's Dean, Vice President for Medical Affairs


In a message to the SLU community, President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., announced a search for the next dean of SLU's School of Medicine and vice president of medical affairs.

Dear colleagues,

Dr. Robert Wilmott is in the final year of his three-year appointment as Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine. He has chosen to step down at the conclusion of his remarkable term. I am therefore writing to announce the start of a national search for Saint Louis University’s next Dean of the School of Medicine and Vice President for Medical Affairs.

Dr. Wilmott took over at a point when we had experienced some disruption in the School and were still working hard to remedy sanctions from the LCME. Early in his tenure, he faced a negative budgetary swing in the SLUCare practice, which required swift action and substantial restructuring. I say without equivocation that Dr. Wilmott successfully addressed these substantial challenges and others, while moving the School and the SLUCare Practice forward in impressive ways. It will not be easy to replace him.

Our vision for SLU is to be a global Jesuit university that is mission-focused, student and patient-centered, and research-driven, working with the people of St. Louis to reimagine, transform, and unify our city. The School of Medicine and academic medical center play critical roles in helping us realize that vision.

Our School of Medicine and SLUCare are beacons of excellence in medical teaching, research, innovation and practice. Our dedicated and talented faculty, staff and students are primary providers of chronic and acute care to the underserved in our city. They advance knowledge in critical areas of medicine and health. They treat some of the most complex medical conditions that exist and train the next generation of health care practitioners. They also benefit from a multi-level partnership with SSM Health. All of which makes this an attractive opportunity for a person of empathy, vision, faith, transparency, collegiality, fiscal savvy and data- and mission-driven action.

I am confident in our ability to recruit a leader who will work alongside our faculty, staff, students, partners, alumni, and stakeholders, to take the medical enterprise to higher levels of excellence in research, teaching, and patient care with the urgency and care our environment demands.

We will seek a Vice President who is passionate about their work, understands the responsibilities of the role, is wise in their decision making, and will work comfortably with all stakeholders of our urban, international, research university. And we need a Vice President who is dedicated to escalating our efforts to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive school, practice and community. In short, the next Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine must chart a course that supports our vision.

The search will be conducted by a diverse committee (see below) chaired by Howard Place. M.D., Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. A search firm, still to be selected, will assist the committee in generating a diverse pool of highly qualified candidates, from which a small number of finalists will be invited to interview for the position. 

In the meantime, Acting Dean Dr. Christine Jacobs will continue to work alongside Vice President Wilmott to help lead the School of Medicine and the SLUCare Practice. I continue to be grateful for their partnership and their leadership.

Let us all join in prayer for Dr. Wilmott as he prepares to undergo surgery and recovery. I am thankful, as is Bob, for the love and appreciation the Saint Louis University community has shown Bob and his family.

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.

Search Committee

I created the search committee in close consultation with Dr. Wilmott, and after speaking with Dr. Scott Isbell. Dr. Isbell consulted with his colleagues and sent a list of faculty recommended by the School of Medicine Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly (ECFA). I also invited nominations from the clinical chairs in the School of Medicine. Unfortunately, many more faculty were nominated than we were able to include on the committee. Because we sought to include a diverse range of expertise and backgrounds, it is a rather large committee. 

In assembling the search committee, I sought to achieve the following:

I remind those who are not on the search committee that all will have a chance to meet and evaluate the finalists.

Finally, I want to thank the individuals who have agreed to serve. This is an important and time-consuming role. They are: