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Presidential Transition

President K. Michael Welch Announces Retirement from RFUMS

Dear RFU community:

To lead our university as president and CEO since late 2002 has been an honor and a privilege. Together, we have anticipated and taken on the challenges posed by nationwide changes in the delivery of health care in a decade of the most difficult economic conditions since the Great Depression of the last century. With the guidance and extraordinary commitment of a diverse, talented and dedicated Board of Trustees under the leadership of first the late Ruth Rothstein and now Gail Warden, and with the unwavering support of trustees, including those from the Franklin and Scholl families and representatives from our alumni, we have made Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science a national leader in interprofessional education and a premier environment in which future healthcare professionals seek to learn. I believe strongly the university is now positioned to ensure the success of its next president.

And so it is with both pride and profound gratitude that today I have tendered to chair of the Board of Trustees my decision to retire upon appointment of a new president, anticipated in January of 2017.

I have much for which to thank you during my presidency, beginning with the forging of a new identity as we renamed our university for one of the most famous women scientists across the ages, whose discovery was crucial to the single most important advance in modern biology. Over the past decade of strategic growth, your hard work and dedication has placed RFU at the forefront of health professions education and on firm footing, both financially and academically. Our educational mission has set a gold standard for the nation, proving that interprofessionalism is not just an academic course but a culture in which an entire university family can thrive. Your efforts have led to the establishment of strong academic and clinical partnerships, the expansion of physical facilities, the initiation of academic programs and colleges, and the strengthening of clinical training and scientific research through hiring and retaining of outstanding faculty and top-notch investigators. In the process, the size of our university and its student body has doubled.

Appropriately, we have made students the center of our attention, ensuring their representation on university leadership committees and as trustees of the board, developing new support systems as they take on the rigors of graduate health professions education, working to be more inclusive, and expanding scholarship support. We continue to aggressively seek out new clinical training sites and prepare our students to secure top post-graduate training positions amid fierce competition for those opportunities. They in turn inspire us with their commitment to the community as together we provide service through thoughtfully designed programs including our student-run Interprofessional Community Clinic, the Community Care Connection mobile health coach, global health initiatives, and educational pipelines such as the North Chicago Community High School Healthcare Careers Pathway and our nationally recognized INSPIRE program for Latino high school students. Our Alliance for Health Sciences with DePaul University is providing new opportunities for nursing students on our campus and pathway programs that align undergraduate with graduate professional degrees, and offer tuition savings and holistically-designed courses that prepare modern healthcare professionals to practice team-based collaborative care in innovative delivery systems emerging from the Affordable Care Act.

Our mission spans generations and transcends inevitable transitions in leadership. It creates a momentum that can anticipate challenges, generate opportunities and lead the future of health care. I believe we are poised for grander strategies that spread our brand, business, and educational models throughout this nation in which contemporary academic health centers now struggle to find their way along paths we have already trodden with success.

Like our namesake, the people who are Rosalind Franklin University will continue to improve the lot of humankind through life in discovery. I am confident that, with your help, we will make a smooth transition to new leadership built upon the innovation and enduring values that distinguish our institution.

With sincere gratitude to each and every one,
Michael Welch

K. Michael Welch, MB, ChB, FRCP
President & CEO