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SUNY Upstate taps Laura Schweitzer, Ph.D., as vice dean of College of Medicine

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Laura Schweitzer, Ph.D., has been named vice dean of the College of Medicine, vice president for academic affairs, and provost-designate at the SUNY Upstate Medical University. In addition, she has been named vice provost for academic affairs and health liaison at Syracuse University. These appointments take effect Oct. 1, 2005, with the appointment as provost at SUNY Upstate effective Oct. 1, 2006.

Schweitzer is currently interim dean of the School of Medicine and associate vice president for health affairs at the University of Louisville. When she was named interim dean in 2003, she became the first female Ph.D. in the United States to hold such a position. At SUNY Upstate, she will hold the highest rank of any woman in the history of the medical school that graduated Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive an M.D. degree in the United States, in 1848.

At SUNY Upstate, Schweitzer will have broad responsibility in the areas of faculty affairs and faculty development, including recruitment and retention of faculty, mentoring and career development, career enhancement for women and minority faculty, and recruitment and evaluation of department chairs.

A national leader in the field of faculty development, Schweitzer serves as program director and head of the Association of American Medical Colleges' (AAMC) Group on Faculty Affairs and teaches in the AAMC program on Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine and in the organization's forums on Women in Medicine and Minority Faculty Development. She is a regular member and site visitor for the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, and is a much sought after speaker and consultant on faculty governance issues.

"I am thrilled that we are able to bring to SUNY Upstate a leader in faculty development of the stature and talent of Dr. Schweitzer," said Steven J. Scheinman, M.D., executive vice president at SUNY Upstate and dean of the College of Medicine. "Faculty development is a high priority at SUNY Upstate, and Dr. Schweitzer's approach to these challenges is very much in tune with our goals here."

When Schweitzer becomes provost in October 2006, she will succeed Kenneth Barker, Ph.D. Barker will take on a new role with substantially enhanced authority and responsibility for research development, and will remain a key member of the leadership team at SUNY Upstate.

"Dr. Schweitzer's broad range of experience at a leading academic medical center and in the national arena positions her to help us enhance faculty excellence and educate all health sciences students, thus furthering our mission to improve the health of the communities we serve," said Gregory L. Eastwood, M.D., president of SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Schweitzer has had many accomplishments in her roles at the University of Louisville. Her leadership was cited as an institutional strength in the school's recent successful Liaison Committee on Medical Education accreditation. As dean, she created a new urology department and named four chairs of key departments. Before becoming dean, she participated in efforts that resulted in the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, a partnership between medicine, engineering and Jewish Hospital Healthcare Services with the support of the Kentucky Office of the New Economy. Schweitzer has served as associate dean for student affairs and freshman curriculum coordinator, as well as dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Louisville.

A long-time advocate for diversity, Schweitzer's leadership was instrumental in renaming the School of Medicine's Office of Special Programs and focusing its mission as the Office of Minority and Rural Affairs. An African-American associate dean has been named to head the office. She has promoted women and minorities to leadership positions throughout her career, including successful recruitment of several African-Americans to fill endowed chair positions. During her tenure, the number of minority faculty increased by 40 percent.

From 1996 to 2003, Schweitzer was associate and then vice dean for administration and faculty affairs, where she led a consensus-based redesign of the faculty contract and track system and promotion and tenure guidelines, implementing an incentive, work assignment-based system that rewards and recognizes faculty for their contributions to the school's multiple missions.

"My work at the University of Louisville has been very rewarding and I look forward to new challenges at SUNY Upstate, including the creation of partnerships with Syracuse University," Schweitzer said. Her role as vice provost for academic affairs and health liaison at Syracuse University will enable Schweitzer to promote collaborative programs between SUNY Upstate and Syracuse University.

Schweitzer earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Miami and a doctorate in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship in neuroscience and served on the research faculty at Duke University before moving to Louisville. As a faculty member she directed an NIH-funded research program in neuroanatomy, publishing numerous peer-reviewed articles and invited submissions.

Editor's note: To request a digital photo of Schweitzer, please contact Doretta Royer at 315-464-4833, or royerd@upstate.edu