Originally created 05/02/00

MCG dean to leave school next month



Medical College of Georgia's dean of the School of Medicine will leave at the end of June for another position elsewhere.

Darrell G. Kirch, who is also senior vice president for clinical activities, acknowledged Monday he is leaving but declined to say for where.

Dr. Kirch is a finalist for senior administrative positions at medical schools at the University of Arizona, the University of Indiana and Pennsylvania State University.

Sources told The Augusta Chronicle Dr. Kirch will become dean of the College of Medicine at Penn State, which Dr. Kirch said he could not confirm.

Penn State will hold a news conference today to announce its new dean, who also serves as senior vice president of the Hershey Medical Center at the college. The school would not release further information before the announcement.

MCG is also expected to announce Dr. Kirch's departure today.

Dr. Kirch, 50, has been dean since 1994, when he was hired away from the National Institute of Mental Health. He is the fourth of MCG's five deans to announce a departure. The othersare leaving through the early retirement program.

The school is also losing several department chairmen to early retirement.

"I actually would have preferred to leave at a time when there was less turnover and uncertainty. But I've been offered an outstanding opportunity, one that works very well for me personally and professionally," Dr. Kirch said.

"It actually has become very unusual for deans in this country to remain in a position as long as I have. The average tenure is much shorter than the 6' years I have been dean."

With two girls ages 9 and 12, the family wanted to make the move when it would have less effect on them, Dr. Kirch said.

"We're happy for him because he's got an opportunity to take this other position," MCG President Francis J. Tedesco said. "It reinforces the value of what we do here" as reflected in professional advancement.

It is "too early" to talk about a successor, but usually an interim dean is named within a month while a national search is conducted, Dr. Tedesco said.

In addition to his other service, Dr. Kirch worked on the Blue Ribbon Commission on the future of MCG and serves on the board of MCG Health Inc., the new operating company for the hospital and clinics.

"He will certainly be missed by those of us who worked with him over the years to bring MCG Health and MCG up to date," said Thomas Allgood Sr., chairman of the board of MCG Health and a member of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. "We really are disappointed to see him go."

"He has a very good understanding of those (academic health centers) and what is needed for the education venue," said Dr. Lindsay Desrochers, senior vice chancellor for capital resources and a member of the board of MCG Health.

Dr. Kirch said he would miss his colleagues.

"I have never worked with such a good group of people," Dr. Kirch said. "It is a truly talented and committed group of people."

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213.