Biological Sciences faculty concerned over Madara’s Medical Center leadership

“The faculty has been disenfranchised,” a letter to Madara from faculty said. “[Madara’s] combined responsibilities as C.E.O. and dean have distanced [him] from faculty affairs and aspirations.”

By Erin Robertson

Many Biological Sciences Division (BSD) faculty remain worried that Dean James Madara has made insufficient efforts to reach out to researchers in the department, one month after signing a letter expressing concerns with Madara’s leadership in his new role as C.E.O. of University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC).

The April 3 letter, addressed to Madara and signed by 76 members of the BSD, was written in response to his performance since the 2006 merger of the BSD and UCMC, forming Chicago BioMedicine. Prior to the merger, Madara was academic dean of the BSD.

As a result of the combining of these two positions, the letter argued, “The faculty has been disenfranchised.” The letter continued, “[Madara’s] combined responsibilities as C.E.O. and dean have distanced [him] from faculty affairs and aspirations.”

In an April 6 response, Madara and Provost Thomas Rosenbaum cited Madara’s creation of the Faculty Science Review Board, whose members work to provide greater faculty input in Chicago BioMedicine’s governance, as evidence of Madara’s commitment to engagement with researchers. The committee of 30 faculty members will present Madara with its recommendations in June.

“The goal of the committee is to try to develop some recommendations for the dean that respond to the concerns of the faculty,” Professor Janet Rowley, co-chair of the committee, said.

Rowley stressed that the members on the committee specialize in a range of academic disciplines and “include as many voices of basic research and clinical faculty as possible.”

But while Rowley noted a strong faculty response to the committee, several faculty members expressed doubt that the committee’s recommendations would bring about change.

“I believe that the committee will come up with a good response,” a faculty member who signed the letter said, but she worried that Madara’s reaction to the committee’s suggestions would be insufficient. The professor wished to remain anonymous to avoid souring inter-department relations.

The faculty members also sent the letter to Provost Rosenbaum and University president Robert Zimmer in the hopes that they may become more involved in Chicago BioMedicine’s governance.

“Personally, I’ve been disappointed that they have not been more involved,” the unnamed faculty member said.