After ushering in a period of growth and increased revenue during his nearly two?year service as interim dean of Tufts School of Medicine, Harris Berman was last week appointed permanently to the position.
The Office of the Provost decided not to conduct a nationwide search to fill the opening because the post was vacated at a time when both the positions of university president and provost were in transition, according to Interim Provost Peggy Newell.
“He was doing a great job as interim dean,” Newell said.
Former Dean Michael Rosenblatt stepped down after a six?year tenure in Dec. 2009 to assume the role of chief medical officer at pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., Inc.
Prior to his appointment as interim dean, Berman served as the dean of public health and professional degree programs at the School of Medicine.
Berman worked in the field of health management before coming to Tufts, serving as chief executive officer of the Tufts Health Plan for 17 years and co?founder of the Matthew Thornton Health Plan in New Hampshire.
Dean of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences Naomi Rosenberg expressed support for the work that Berman had accomplished during his time as interim dean.
“By developing new programs and focusing on new programs that are educationally responsible but will bring in revenues to the school, he’s improved the school’s financial stability,” Rosenberg said.
Over the past two years, Berman has created three new educational programs: an expanded public health program, a master’s program in biomedical science and a post?baccalaureate program to bolster the School of Medicine’s revenue.
“I think he’s engaged and reenergized our faculty in thinking about new ways of contributing to the school by working to develop new educational programs; that’s a really big plus,” Rosenberg said.
During his time as interim dean, these programs turned the School of Medicine’s annual deficit into a $2.7 million surplus.
“By doing that, we’ve taken the pressure off,” Berman said. “Now, we can just worry about how we better build our program.”
Berman hopes to use the School of Medicine’s new financial stability to get the school moving toward educational innovation.
“I think what we really need to do now, and we’re well?positioned for this with Anthony Monaco as president, is think through with the faculty what is science and what is research in the 21st century, and question if we are organized to do that best,” Berman said. “I need to make decisions with the faculty as to where we want to concentrate our research and our energies.”
“One of the important things that a medical school does is create knowledge,” he continued.
“We’re a small?enough university and a small?enough medical school that we can’t do everything, but we need to focus on the things that we do best, and this is an exciting opportunity to do that.”
Berman pushed to expand the School of Medicine’s Global Health Program during his interim service, an effort primarily motivated by his experience as a doctor for the Peace Corps in India.
“It was a life?changing experience for me,” Berman said. “It was a chance to think about preventative medicine and public health, not just from a patient care point of view.”
Many administrators and faculty members are happy to once again have permanent leadership.
“I think it brings us better stability,” Marsha Semuels, executive administrative dean of the School of Medicine, said.
“We’re not hobbled by the fact that we don’t have a permanent dean.”
Many who have worked under Berman thus far have been pleased with his leadership style.
“We’re all thrilled at the Medical School,” Semuels said. “He’s been a great leader and a wonderful person to work for.”
Rosenberg added that Berman’s warm personality has created a positive atmosphere within the school.
“His interactions with our faculty and our students have just been very positive,” Rosenberg said. “He creates sort of a warm, positive feeling when he interacts with them, and I think that’s because he’s able to show that he genuinely cares about students, faculty and staff here.”