Atkinson stepping down as KU School of Medicine dean

Barbara Atkinson announced Thursday that she is stepping down as executive dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine and will leave the administrative post of executive vice chancellor of KU Medical Center in two years.

“Perhaps it will not come as a surprise when I tell you that I am beginning to map out the final stage of an enormously rewarding career,” Atkinson said a message sent to faculty and staff. “Until then, there’s much work to be done.”

Before coming to the KU School of Medicine in 2000 to lead its pathology and laboratory medicine department, Atkinson served as dean of the MCP Hahnemann School of Medicine, now the Drexel University College of Medicine, in Philadelphia. She was appointed KU dean in 2002 and executive vice chancellor in 2005.

Atkinson said in her message that before she leaves the university she wants to finish work on two of the medical center’s key initiatives – obtaining National Cancer Institute designation for the medical center and opening a school of public health.

She said she also wanted to “create a solid foundation for two crucial new priorities” — upgrading facilities at the medical school to make room for more medical students and strengthening ties with Wyandotte County to improve the community’s health.

The search for a new dean will begin immediately, Atkinson said. She said she would remain executive vice chancellor until December 2013 “in an effort to provide a seamless transition and a thoughtful succession plan.”