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April 18, 2012

University reappoints two top officials

Provost Ralph Kuncl and Medical Center CEO Bradford Berk each appointed to second five-year terms

Brad Berk


President Joel Seligman announced the reappointment of two of the University’s top officials. Ralph Kuncl has been appointed to a second, five-year term as provost and executive vice president. He has also been named the University’s chief research officer. Berk will serve a second, five-year term as senior vice president and CEO of the Medical Center.

The Board of Trustees approved both appointments at its March meeting.

“Ralph has been particularly outstanding in balancing three fundamental areas of responsibility,” Seligman says. “First, that of senior leader at the University with involvement on virtually every significant senior leadership team at the University, including those that address budget and 19 University-wide committees, including Conflicts of Interest. Second, chief academic officer, where, among other things, Ralph has had the lead oar in reviewing 102 tenure or promotion decisions, decanal reviews, and administering several awards and benefits programs, as well as his role with respect to our deans, libraries, faculty diversity, multidisciplinary initiatives, and celebration of our faculty and students through events, including the much lauded Celebration of the Book. Third, de facto chief research officer, where Ralph has orchestrated the quite successful initiation of the Health Sciences Center for Computation Innovation, the Sponsored University Research Group, chairs the Technology Transfer Policy Committee, and recently worked with the IT Steering Group in helping move us toward selection of a new cloud-based Financial Reporting System.”

Kuncl was first appointed provost at Rochester in 2007, and since then he has led or directed initiatives in high-performance computing, corporate research collaborations, multidisciplinary initiatives, diversity, and online education. He has been responsible for review of university deans, the university library, approximately 150 faculty promotion or tenure decisions, sustainability and faculty-driven learning assessment initiatives. He also created and leads the annual Celebration of the Book, which brings faculty authors from across the University together to celebrate and build community around their creative authorship in the arts and sciences. Kuncl’s leadership also led to the 2011 creation of the University’s first-ever mission statement: “Learn, Discover, Heal, Create—and Make the World Ever Better.”

Berk’s reappointment demonstrates the University’s confidence in his leadership at a critical juncture in the Medical Center’s history. As health care reform creates incentives for providers to increase the value, rather than the volume, of the care they provide, the Medical Center has substantially increased its quality and patient safety initiatives.

“No area of the University faces quite the range of challenges that the Medical Center does today in terms of its budget, structure, technology, response to new demands for alternative forms of health care delivery, and challenges to support of basic and clinical research,” Seligman says. “Brad has assembled a senior leadership team at the Medical Center who, working with him, has done an outstanding job implementing the Medical Center’s strategic plan formally approved by the University Board in 2008, addressing ongoing needs to expand and modernize medical facilities, making difficult budget decisions in our hospitals and School of Medicine and Dentistry and School of Nursing, negotiating more supportive relationships with third-party payors, and beginning to implement a new and important regional strategy.”

Inspired by his own experiences following a serious spinal cord injury in 2009, Berk has also driven the Medical Center to adopt a rigorous approach to patient- and family-centered care, an effort that is boosting patient satisfaction scores across the health system. In 2011, a record number of clinical programs—four adult and three pediatric specialties—earned Top 50 rankings in U.S. News & World Report.

During Berk’s tenure, federal research funding to Medical Center scientists reached an all-time high, with stimulus funds compounding the rise. The Medical Center also opened a number of new facilities, including the Saunders Research Building and a freestanding Ambulatory Surgery Center at Sawgrass. Later this spring, a four-story addition atop the Wilmot Cancer Center will open, adding 42 inpatient beds. Construction will begin this year on a new 237,000-square-foot Golisano Children’s Hospital, the centerpiece of a $100 million fundraising campaign for pediatric facilities and programs.

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