Meet the new deans

Have you seen the white smoke emanating from the HSC lately?

In the past two months, deans were appointed to two HSC colleges: On Nov. 4, Michael Perri, Ph.D., was appointed dean of the College of Public Health and Health Professions, and on Dec. 21, Michael Good, M.D., was appointed dean of the College of Medicine. The press releases for Dr. Perri and Dr. Good provide information on their professional biographies, the search process, and some broader context. But who are these new deans as people? What are their stories? This issue of On the Same Page will try to answer these questions.

Meet the new deans:

Michael Perri, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Public Health and Health Professions

A native of New York City, Mike Perri was born and raised in the Bronx, the eldest of five siblings and the only boy in the mix. Mike’s grandparents were immigrants from Italy who arrived in the U.S. via Ellis Island just prior to World War I. Mike’s dad worked as a machinist for the Bendix Company, where he crafted parts for the Apollo moon vehicles, while Mike’s mother was a “work-at-home” mom who many years later attended community college and became a dental hygienist.

Mike’s career interests were shaped during his teen years when he read Sigmund Freud’s “Introduction to Psychoanalysis” and became intrigued with psychotherapy. Mike earned a New York State Regents Scholarship and was the “first generation” of his family to attend college. He studied psychology at Fordham University and simultaneously ran his own small business — a hot dog stand that catered to visitors of the Bronx Zoo. While at Fordham, Mike met and dated Kathy Doyle, a student at Hunter College-Belleview School of Nursing.

After completing his bachelor’s degree, Mike was offered an NIH pre-doctoral fellowship to study clinical psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Mike accepted the fellowship with the intention of eventually returning to NYC to practice psychotherapy. After a two-year long-distance relationship, Kathy and Mike were married, and Kathy joined Mike in Missouri, where she pursued her master’s degree in nursing. Graduate school cultivated in Mike an interest in clinical research, particularly the use of behavioral methods for disease prevention.

Mike began his academic career as an assistant professor at the University of Rochester, where, against the advice of senior faculty (who argued that clinical trials were a “risky business”), he initiated a series of studies on behavioral methods to improve the long-term management of obesity. Mike continued this line of research at the Indiana University School of Medicine and later at Fairleigh Dickinson University before joining the faculty of the University of Florida in 1990 as a professor in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology.

Mike has contributed to more than 120 scientific publications and has served as principal investigator or co-investigator for more than $30 million in research grants and contracts from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs and private industry. In 2008 he received the American Psychological Association Samuel M. Turner Award for Distinguished Contributions to Applied Research in Clinical Psychology.

Mike has taught in the classroom and/or in the clinic in every year of his tenure at UF, has chaired more than 30 doctoral dissertation committees, and has held a variety of administrative positions, including head of the Health Psychology Division, director of the Psychology Internship Program and PHHP’s associate dean for research. As interim dean, Mike faced a major shortfall in the college’s operating budget and growing skepticism among the PHHP faculty regarding the appropriateness of seeking accreditation during a time of scarce resources. These circumstances presented a pivotal point in the history of the college that forced Mike to confront a series of difficult decisions. Pursuit of accreditation required the investment of additional resources, while dealing with the budget crisis necessitated the closure of two programs and the layoff of several employees. The cumulative effects of these difficult decisions led to stabilization of the PHHP’s shaky financial foundation and the college’s achievement of full accreditation as a school of public health.

As interim dean, Mike strengthened interdisciplinary collaborations both within the college and across the campus. He initiated a program to fund multidisciplinary pilot projects, and he established the Florida Trauma Rehabilitation Center for Returning Military Personnel, a collaborative research endeavor of all departments in PHHP. Other accomplishments under Mike’s leadership included the approval of two new Ph.D. programs (Epidemiology and Biostatistics), the establishment of the new Department of Environmental and Global Health, the merger of the Departments of Communication Sciences and Disorders (from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) and Communicative Disorders (in PHHP), and creation of an online Masters program in Public Health.

Mike and Kathy Perri are a true “UF&Shands” couple. While Mike has served on the UF faculty since 1990, Kathy has worked as an ICU nurse at Shands for almost 19 years. Mike and Kathy have two children, Katie, 24, and Matthew, 16. Katie graduated last year from the University of Southern California and currently works as a financial analyst for an international business consulting firm. Matthew is currently a student at Eastside High School. Loyal to their Bronx heritage, the Perris are all die-hard Yankee fans.

Michael L. Good, M.D.
Dean, College of Medicine

Michael Good was the oldest of five children and raised in Waterford, Michigan, a northern suburb of Detroit. He graduated valedictorian of his high school class in 1977. His father was a pharmacist by professional training, but spent most of his career running pharmacy businesses, which were among the first in the 1970s to utilize the then newly emerging fax technology to speed prescription processing and the delivery of medications to nursing homes and foster care facilities. Mike’s grandparents and later his father brought the family into the roller skating rink business, an important life event, as it was at the skating rink that Mike met Danette Sullivan, a four-time national champion roller skater. After a four-year courtship, Mike and Danette married in 1984.

Mike tells me that for as long as he can remember, he knew he wanted to be a physician. While attending the University of Michigan, however, for his undergraduate education he also sought an “employable” major, “in case I did not get into medical school.” He decided on a bachelor’s degree in computer and communication science, which was awarded with distinction in 1980. He matriculated into the University of Michigan Medical School that same year. Although he would eventually make a career choice in anesthesiology, Mike now enjoys recounting the first day of his third year of medical school, when he passed out cold and “hit the floor” after confronting an open surgical field for the first time (on the ob-gyn service). “Sleep, breakfast and hydration are important,” he now tells our medical students. “And you can do very well in medical school and a career in anesthesiology despite a very tough first day in the OR!”

After visiting top anesthesiology residencies throughout the nation and being heavily recruited to UF by Jerry Modell and Joachim (“Nik”) Gravenstein, Mike sought and successfully matched into the anesthesiology training program in the UF College of Medicine. Soon after arriving at UF, Good realized that the apprenticeship form of resident education was not optimal learning, noting that beginning residents need more than two or three cases a day to acquire basic skills while senior residents had no reliable way to experience rare complications. Working with a team of physician and engineering collaborators spanning two continents, Good helped to invent the Human Patient Simulator, a lifelike human representation with sophisticated clinical signs and physiologic and pharmacologic responsiveness. After several prototypes, the inventing team successfully transferred the patented technology to industry, where it is now manufactured by Medical Education Technologies Inc. (METI) in Sarasota, Florida. The UF Human Patient Simulator is a transformational educational technology that now permeates the learning environments of all health-care professionals and is used at institutions throughout the world.

In 1994, Mike accepted an appointment as the division chief of anesthesiology at the Gainesville VA Medical Center. Two years later, VA Director Malcom Randall, for whom the medical center was later named, drew Mike into hospital administration, appointing him as chief of staff. Mike recalls this tremendous learning opportunity: Mr. Randall, who at the time was the most senior VA director in the entire nation, personally mentored Mike’s leadership development, including issues at the local, regional and national levels. With ever-growing duties and responsibilities, by the time Mike left the VA in 2003 he was serving as system medical director for the North Florida South Georgia Veteran Health System, with clinical oversight responsibility for two hospitals, three large multispecialty clinics, five primary care clinics and the health of tens of thousands of veterans living in 53 counties. The VA and federal government have strong leadership development programs, and Mike was able to take advantage of three different programs over a span of seven years. Mike is quick to point out that “leadership is a learned skill, but it is important to attend class, study and practice known and innovative leadership approaches to optimizing organizational performance.”

Chair of anesthesiology Nicholas (“Nik”) Gravenstein recruited Mike back to UF in 2003 over a hamburger lunch at Louie’s. At $6.53 for both, this has to be the all-time record for cheap recruiting meals in the history of UF! By 2004, Dean Craig Tisher had brought Mike into the dean’s office on a part-time basis to help with VA affairs, and then in 2005, after an internal search, Dean Tisher appointed him full-time as senior associate dean for clinical affairs. Soon after his appointment, Mike encountered a difficult clinical problem of surgical patients remaining in the OR after completion of surgery, often for many hours, because their postoperative beds were not available. This prevented the next patient from entering the OR, and severely hampered OR patient flow. Working collaboratively with a leadership and management engineering team, mathematical models were used to identify the underlying causes. Based on the results, a new scheduling system was implemented, and within a few months, over 10 percent additional ICU surgical cases were being completed each week without OR holds, just as the models had predicted. This systems-based approach to achieving goals is perhaps Mike’s greatest leadership skill, one that has also been used for measuring OR utilization and adjusting block time assignments, which helped contribute to the highest number of surgeries ever being completed by UF surgeons last fiscal year.

Mike was appointed interim dean in May of 2008 after a series of highly publicized problems in the medical school. The day after his appointment, surgery resident Hugh Walters was killed in an automobile accident, and one of Mike’s first duties as interim dean was to meet with Hugh’s grieving parents, fellow residents and faculty colleagues. “Hugh’s death was tragic,” said Mike, “and served to remind all of us how precious, and fragile, life can be.” As interim dean, Mike set in motion installation of an ambulatory electronic medical record system in UF faculty clinics, worked with UF administration to obtain additional state funding for the medical school, appointed a senior associate dean for research affairs, and filled open chair positions in neurology, surgery, neuroscience, obstetrics and gynecology, and molecular genetics and microbiology. In a challenging fiscal environment, he fostered faculty development, including the recruitment of a nationally recognized radiation oncologist and researcher to direct our Cancer Center, and one of the leading Alzheimer’s disease researchers to lead a new research center in Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases. In addition, Mike provided substantial College of Medicine support to the successful Clinical and Translational Science Institute, contributing to its CTSA funding by the NIH. He oversaw the transition of patient care from Shands at AGH and the Shands at UF emergency departments to the Shands Cancer Hospital at UF, and worked to elevate the College of Medicine’s physician assistant program to “school” status. He was also instrumental in raising over $60 million in gifts and pledges during the 2008-09 academic year.

Now, as Mike transitions from interim to permanent dean, he begins to shift his efforts from college operations to strategic planning and program development. He states: “I look to a COM future in which every patient has an optimal highest quality and reliably safe care experience, every patient has the opportunity to benefit from clinical research, and UF becomes a medical school that differentiates its graduates with dual degrees and published papers. As dean, the success of our faculty will be the focus on my work. Patients seek care at UF&Shands because of the unique expertise provided by our clinical faculty. The state of Florida and indeed the world looks to our research faculty for discoveries that cure disease and optimize health. And the best and brightest students come to UF for professional education because of an exceptionally talented and dedicated education faculty.” I have no doubt that Mike will achieve this vision, and in the process, the UF COM will advance from being a very good medical school — one of the best in the Southeast — to becoming one of the premier medical schools in the United States.

During this first holiday season in Gainesville, my family and I want to express our heartfelt appreciation to the readers of this page for being so warmly welcomed into the UF&Shands family, and into the larger community. As I approach my first six months on the job, having been given the honor and privilege of leading this very special academic health center, I find that the best way to describe my feelings is to say that I have been inspired. I have been inspired by your aspirations and your talent. And by your commitment to do the right thing. We will.

For many, the holiday season itself adds its own special stress. My suggestion is this: Give yourself the gift of reflection. Embrace this time as a gift. Reflect on the meaning of the season in the broader context of your personal and professional life. As we look forward to the New Year, join me in coming back inspired.

Sincerely,

David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Health Affairs
President, UF&Shands Health System