VCU Health System CEO search underway

Kris Mason
Staff Writer

Search committee members will collaborate with search firm Isaacson, Miller to appoint a new CEO of the VCU health system. The committee’s first meeting will take place this week. Photo by Julie Tripp

When Sheldon Retchin, Chief Executive Officer of the VCU Health System and vice president for Health Sciences, stepped down from his position on Dec. 8, president Michael Rao didn’t delay in assembling a search committee for his replacement.

“We want someone who has clear understanding of academics, business and health care,” said John Ward, search committee co-chair alongside Eva Hardy.

Ward and Hardy made clear they don’t have any questions about the characteristics they are looking for in for an ideal candidate, especially in light of Retchin’s accomplishments in serving VCU for 32 years.

Retchin is set to assume the CEO position of the Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center on March 2. Ward said the search process for Retchin’s replacement is estimated between six months and a year.

Ward, who has worked at MCV for more than 40 years, spoke highly of Retchin, who he said is also a good friend of the Ohio State University president.

Jerome Strauss, dean of the VCU medical school, will serve as interim vice president of academic health affairs and CEO of health system.

“We need someone with very good people skills: someone who can communicate, someone who can move forward without feeling like they have to start over or tear down what we’ve spent so much time building up,” Ward said, adding that Retchin placed the VCU Health System in a “wonderful position.”

The committee’s first meeting was originally scheduled for Feb. 17, but will instead take place this week due to inclement weather. Aside from Ward and Hardy’s co-chair positions, the search committee consists of 15 other members.

“We wanted a search committee that’s inclusive, not so big it was cumbersome, but inclusive so when results come out individuals that are selected are reflective of the individual thought process of the members,” Ward said.

At the initial committee meeting, Rao and consultants from Isaacson, Miller, the firm facilitating the search, will share their thoughts on how they hope to engage the pending process.

Collectively, the group will collaborate with Isaacson, Miller as the firm reaches out to their established network of qualified candidates to gauge potential interest in the position.

Retchin’s now-vacant role serves dual functions. The vice presidency of health affairs aspect is academically focused and includes oversight of the schools of nursing, pharmacy, medicine and health administration. The CEO aspect concentrates on the clinical facets including the health system’s hospitals.

Ward said he thinks the hiring decision will impact the Monroe Park campus as well as MCV, largely due to the increasing amount of collaborative research initiatives between the two campuses.

“Increasingly our own little world is becoming flat in terms of our need and dependence on one another,” Ward said. “What you’re going to see is more and more interaction, so I think it’s incredibly important.”

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