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Strength of leadership

When he selected Bradford Berk M.D. to take the reins at the University of Rochester Medical Center in 2006, UR president Joel Seligman described his choice as “a great research scientist (who also is) a superb strategist, who can lead UR’s clinical enterprises.”

The past eight years have proved him right. On Wednesday, as he announced Dr. Berk’s plan to step down as URMC CEO, Mr. Seligman noted that “Brad’s leadership has been of historical significance.”

Indeed, he has led URMC during a period of expansion at Strong Memorial Hospital, construction of the Golisano Children’s Hospital and the opening of the Saunders Research Building. He also has put in place new delivery and payment strategies in the era of health care reform.

Since the medical center’s 2008 strategic plan was finalized, he has guided the investment of nearly $1 billion in capital and information technology projects. Dr. Berk also has led new initiatives such as the Clinical & Translational Science Institute and the Eastman Institute for Oral Health. At the same time, he has built a top-shelf leadership team.

In choosing a successor to Dr. Berk, UR’s president turned to a key member of that team: Mark Taubman M.D., who has been dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry since March 2010. His appointment came after he served nine months as acting CEO following Dr. Berk’s serious spinal cord injury in 2009.

UR is extremely fortunate to have such a capable successor on hand. And it will be equally fortunate as Dr. Berk pursues his new passion: creating and leading the Rochester Neurorestorative Institute. As he noted, his injury helped him “understand the urgent need for breakthroughs to help individuals with spinal cord injuries.”

Added Dr. Berk: “I have pledged to make (RNI) the most comprehensive research, patient care and teaching institute of its kind in the nation.”

It would be hard to overestimate the importance of URMC to the university and the Rochester region. It accounts for nearly three-quarters of UR’s budget and 72 percent of the university’s 25,917 employees.

URMC has thrived under Dr. Berk’s leadership. There’s every reason to believe it will continue to do so with Dr. Taubman as CEO.

9/19/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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