Texas A&M’s Colenda named WVU’s Chancellor for Health Sciences

Calls it ‘a privilege of a lifetime’

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Christopher C. Colenda, M.D, M.P.H., the Jean and Thomas McMullin Dean of Medicine and Vice President for Clinical Affairs at Texas A&M Health Science Center, was named Chancellor for Health Sciences today (Aug. 19).
A respected academic physician, researcher and leader, Dr. Colenda, 57, was selected by WVU President James. P. Clements, following a national search which brought three finalists to campus. He will begin his new role Oct. 30.

“This is certainly a wonderful day for West Virginia University, our Health Sciences enterprise and our State,” said President Clements. “Chris Colenda is a visionary…a strategic thinker…an energetic and dynamic leader…and above all, he is committed to the educational, research, clinical and outreach missions of WVU Health Sciences. He is also focused on moving us to higher levels of competitiveness and success. He is the very best fit for this important position.”

Clements said he spoke to Colenda’s colleagues, and was impressed with their assessment of his work ethic, high standards and collaborative team-building style.

“It is obvious that he is a true champion of health sciences education, health and medical research, clinical and patient care and overall community engagement, Clements said.
“His references were all glowing.”

Clements said Colenda’s stellar career as a faculty member, researcher, department chair, dean, vice president and now chancellor “speaks volumes about his abilities.”

He also pointed to Colenda’s experience in legislative circles and fund-raising.

“It is clear that he understands the role of relationship-building and trust in raising the profile of health sciences,” Clements said.

“What we do here is amazing, and Chris Colenda -- as our new Chancellor for Health Sciences -- will help bring people together to lead our University and our Health Sciences Center to even greater success and stability.”   

Dr. Colenda addressed a crowd gathered at Patteson Auditorium for the announcement, saying, “I am truly honored to have been offered this position. I consider it a privilege of a lifetime.

“I offer my sincere thanks to the members of the Search Committee and to President Clements for the confidence you have placed in me, and I look forward to putting my background to work for this University and this academic Health Sciences enterprise in solving the health care needs of our citizens through public service, professional and interdisciplinary education, research and high quality patient-centered care.”

He added, “During this process, I have not only had a chance to meet with the search committee and the health sciences leadership, but I have met faculty, students and staff who make WVU Health Sciences the great place that it is. And, I can’t wait to get started.”

During his Aug. 2-3 campus visits, Colenda noted that he rose through the ranks of academic medical education as a faculty member, researcher, department chair, dean and vice president.

“At my core, I consider myself a physician, who has had the privilege of taking care of patients, educating the next generation of physicians and health professionals, and contributing to scientific discovery. I bring this perspective to my role as an academic administrator. It is a calling of high purpose, and my responsibility is that of being a servant leader.”

He added, “No single person can lead without the support of many…this is a team and we will build organizational partnerships and trust, and I will do my very best to make us all proud.”

Colenda has been Dean of Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science and Professor of Health Policy Management at Texas A&M since January 2003. In March, he became Vice President for Clinical Affairs.

His background also includes faculty and administrative appointments at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Medical College of Virginia of Virginia Commonwealth University.

He started his college career at the United States Military Academy at West Point and went on to earn degrees from Wittenburg University, B.A., chemistry; The Medical College of Virginia, M.D.; and Johns Hopkins University, M.P.H. 

A geriatric psychiatrist by training, he is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and a Psychiatry Director for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN).

He was also named to the Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME) in early 2007 for a three-year term, and was recently appointed to the Psychological Health Advisory Committee of the Defense Health Board of the Department of Defense.  He is a member of the Administrative Board of the Council of Deans for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Colenda served as the president of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP) in 2006, and was selected as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging in Washington, D.C., in 2005.  He has published over 140 peer-reviewed manuscripts, abstracts and book chapters, primarily in geriatric mental health services research. 

He is married to Kathryn W. Colenda, and they have two daughters, Meredith, 28, and Stephanie, 22.

In announcing Colenda’s appointment, Clements expressed special thanks to the search committee, led by Curtis “Hank” Barnette, for its dedication and commitment and for the helpful input from faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members during the campus process.

“I especially want to thank the members of the search committee for the many hours they put into the screening, interviewing and consultation process,” he said. “I also appreciate the input I received from the health care community, faculty, staff, alumni, students and community members as a result of our campus forums. All of this information proved extremely valuable to me in my final selection of Chris Colenda as WVU’s Chancellor for Health Sciences.”

He also thanked Dr. Fred R. Butcher, who has been serving as interim vice president for the past two years. Butcher, who began his career as a scientist at WVU more than 30 years ago, was the founding director of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center. 

Butcher assumed the interim vice president’s role in April 2007 when former Vice President Robert M. D’Alessandri left for the presidency of the Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton, Pa. 

WVU's Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center includes the schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy. In addition to the main campus in Morgantown, there are campuses in Charleston and Martinsburg, and a statewide network of rural health centers where students from all four schools learn clinical skills. WVU's healthcare affiliates - WVU Hospitals, University Health Associates, and the West Virginia United Health System - are the state's largest healthcare delivery network.  Biomedical research by HSC faculty is on a steady upward trend, with a substantial increase in NIH funding over the past several years.

Dr. Colenda’s salary has been set at $435,000.

For comments from state, University and Health Sciences leaders, along with photos, video, curriculum vitae and position responsibilities, go to http://hscchancellor.wvu.edu.

To send a congratulatory message to Chancellor Colenda, e-mail ChancellorHSC@hsc.wvu.edu.


For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
bl*: 08-19-09

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