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Med school dean at UND to step down

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Dr. H. David Wilson, credited with greatly improving the University of North Dakota's School of Medicine and Health Sciences, plans to step down as dean at the end of the school year.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Dr. H. David Wilson, credited with greatly improving the University of North Dakota's School of Medicine and Health Sciences, plans to step down as dean at the end of the school year.

Dr. Joshua Wynne, vice dean, then will be interim dean during a national search for a successor, said UND President Robert Kelley.

Wilson succeeded the late Dr. Edwin James as dean in 1995, and also was named vice president for health affairs in 2001. His tenure is fifth-longest among med-school deans, according to UND.

He's nationally prominent, as chairman of the Council of Deans of the Association of American Medical Colleges, which oversees the 125 accredited medical schools in the United States and the 17 in Canada.

"He's a remarkable leader who brought the School of Medicine from what I would call a sleepy little school on the prairie in 1995 to be a major medical center with a national reputation for medical education," Edward Carlson, chair of the medical school's anatomy department, said last week.

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"The goals I set for the school when I arrived have largely been achieved," Wilson said in a written statement.

"I'm not ready to retire, but I am ready to look at several national administrative posts."

Wilson grew up in Johnston City in southern Illinois, graduated from Wabash College in Indiana and St. Louis University School of Medicine. He was a lieutenant commander in the Navy.

For 22 years he was a professor, then associate dean the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, before coming to UND.

A pediatrician, Wilson wrote a book on pediatrics for medical students.

"It surely shows that he is highly respected as a leading figure in American medical education," said Charles Kupchella, past UND president, when Wilson was named chairman of the AAMC council in 2006. "We're lucky to have him."

Kelley said the school "made great strides under Dr. Wilson's years of leadership. The school is nationally recognized for its curriculum, a novel patient-centered small group model that is now being emulated and adopted at many medical schools around the country."

Under Wilson, the school added a research building, an animal research facility and a clinical education center.

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But Wilson faced some major criticism during his long tenure at UND.

In 2005, the state Legislature ordered an audit of the medical school, which concluded that Wilson's management style alienated faculty and lawmakers while praising the faculty's and the school's "remarkable accomplishments."

Some legislators questioned whether Wilson was doing enough to get UND-trained physicians in small and rural communities across the state.

At the time, Wilson defended his style as necessary to get the job done.

The Herald and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

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