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UMKC medical school dean will step down next year

Updated: 2013-11-09T00:03:22Z

By MARÁ ROSE WILLIAMS

The Kansas City Star

After 12 years as dean of the medical school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Betty Drees says she will step down in 2014.

“My plans are to work on patient safety and health policy programs, as well as teaching and community service,” Drees wrote in a memo to faculty and staff. She could not be reached for comment.

Drees said in the letter that she plans to stay in the leadership role through the search for a new dean.

Her announcement put the UMKC medical school in the news for the third time in a week. On Tuesday, the university was one of the losers in the Jackson County election for a half-cent sales tax for medical research that would have raised $800 million over 20 years. And on Sunday, E. Grey Dimond, who founded UMKC’s six-year medical school, died at age 94.

Drees said she leaves the position “with tremendous pride in all that we have accomplished together since I first took on this role in 2001.” She cited the school’s graduation of more than 1,000 new physicians, increased research funding, and improved student success and retention.

During her tenure, the school has gone through facility upgrades, has launched departments in areas such as neurology, bioinformatics and medical humanities/social sciences, and has created programs such as anesthesiologist assistant and physician assistant programs.

Carole McArthur, who teaches at the School of Dentistry and in the School of Medicine’s department of pathology, said she wasn’t surprised to hear of Drees’ decision.

“Betty has been in this position for a long time,” McArthur said, adding that the position is “a tough job, especially in these economic times. Maybe she is just tired and wants to do something for herself.”

McArthur said “there have been some ripples in the pond” during Drees’ tenure. Specifically, she mentioned a 2007 sexual harassment scandal involving two UMKC psychology department professors.

“But Betty has done a pretty darn good job. Her stepping down is going to leave a big gap. She’ll be missed.”

To reach Mará Rose Williams, call 816-234-4419 or send email to mdwilliams@kcstar.com.

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