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IOWA CITY — After four years of leading the University of Iowa’s $1.2 billion health care operation, Brooks Jackson, the UI vice president for medical affairs and dean of the nationally ranked UI Carver College of Medicine, is stepping down.
Jackson, 68, plans to remain on the UI faculty to pursue research, according to the UI Office of Strategic Communication. The university plans to immediately embark on a search for his successor, and Jackson will continue to serve until that person starts work, according to the UI.
Jackson’s announcement comes a month after UIHC CEO Suresh Gunasekaran announced plans to leave for a job in California.
Whereas Jackson’s predecessor, Jean Robillard, held his leadership post atop UIHC for a decade, Jackson started work a little more than four years ago — Nov. 30, 2017 — coming from the University of Minnesota, where he was vice president for health sciences and dean of the medical school.
Holding master’s and doctorate degrees from Dartmouth College, Jackson, a professor of pathology, was chairman of the pathology department at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 2001 to 2014.
Over his career, Jackson established himself as an internationally recognized AIDS researcher — including principal investigator of the National Institutes of Health-funded International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Network. Through that work, Jackson conducted “landmark clinical trials for the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission and the treatment of pediatric HIV infection and complications,” according to this UIHC bio.
As head of UIHC, Jackson led the largest multispecialty physician group practice in the state — a health care operation with a total impact of more than $4 billion on Iowa’s economy, employing more than 33,000 statewide.
Neither Jackson nor UI officials went into detail about why he’s stepping down now — just as UIHC recently began building a $395 million, 469,000-square-foot hospital and clinic in North Liberty, lost its CEO and announced plans to start building a new inpatient tower on the main Iowa City campus, possibly as soon as 2025.
“I am so proud of everything our team has accomplished over the past five years, from leading UI Health Care’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic even while reaching for new heights of academic excellence, to obtaining approval on ambitious plans for new growth and partnerships to securing the single largest gift in the history of the university,” Jackson said in a statement.
“As UI Health Care prepares to tackle the next bold phase in its history, the time is right for new leadership to pilot the organization to the next level.”
Former UI President Bruce Harreld hired Jackson two years after he started in 2015. UI President Barbara Wilson succeeded Harreld last summer, and, in a statement Thursday, expressed appreciation for “all that Brooks has done to lead our health care enterprise into the future over the past five years.”
“His steady presence has been an asset to our community that has allowed our faculty, staff and students to thrive,” Wilson said. “While Brooks may be stepping down from his current position, I am so pleased that he will be staying on as a member of our faculty so he can continue his research on infectious diseases.”
Jackson’s current salary is $1.06 million — a 28 percent increase over his starting salary four years ago of $825,000.
A year after his arrival, Jackson hired Gunasekaran as UIHC’s CEO. He became the face of the health care operation during the pandemic and announced last month he was leaving to become CEO of the No. 9-ranked University of California San Francisco Academic Health System.
UI officials said a search for Gunasekaran’s replacement will commence after Jackson’s successor begins. Officials on Thursday announced co-chairs of a search committee to find that person.
John Keller — on faculty in the College of Dentistry and involved in special projects with the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost — will co-chair the search for a new vice president of medical affairs and medical college dean, alongside Cynthia Wong, professor, chairwoman and departmental executive officer of the Department of Anesthesia in the Carver College of Medicine.
Keller last year also served as interim UI president, co-chaired the search that led to Wilson’s hire, and was dean of the UI Graduate College from 2002 until 2021.
Wong has been with UI Health Care since 2015, having previously served as professor and vice chairwoman of the Department of Anesthesia and chief of the section of obstetric anesthesia at Northwestern University for 27 years.
In a statement, UI Provost Kevin Kregel vowed to involve the campus in finding Jackson’s successor.
“Throughout this process, I will work with President Wilson to engage our faculty, staff and students to hear their thoughts on the future of the college and our health care system,” Kregel said.
In listing Jackson’s accolades during his time atop UIHC, officials noted he navigated the unprecedented pandemic while also growing the health care campus’ budget and footprint.
Other achievements during his tenure, according to the university:
- UI Health Care grew extramural research funding by more than 26 percent.
- It stabilized and improved its financial profile.
- UIHC secured the largest donation in UI history — a $70 million gift announced this week for a new inpatient tower on the medical campus.
- It invested in initiatives aimed at greater health parity and a more diverse, equitable, and welcoming environment.
- UIHC rolled out a 10-year facilities master plan — including intentions to build a new tower, clinic, and academic research building on the main Iowa City site;
- It “improved outcomes for patients across Iowa.”
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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