October 2009

Why a university hospital?

Today, the Academic Health Center continues to partner with Fairview Health Services on a shared clinical mission. The recent report “Evaluating the Integration of the Clinical Enterprise” to the Regents demonstrates how this nearly thirteen-year old relationship continues to develop.

There is an interesting historical division between those who knew and worked within the University Hospitals and those who have only known Fairview as the owner/operator of the University of Minnesota Medical Center. For the latter, Fairview has always owned the hospital and University of Minnesota Physicians (UMP) has always been the faculty group practice.

Yet, this view seems to imply that the transition was spontaneous and effortless on January 1, 1997. In fact, the early part of the 1990s was a major time of restructuring within the AHC and in health services in general that set the stage for this change. This reorganization included a new mission for the Board of Governors as well as a closer alignment to the University of Minnesota Clinical Associates, the then faculty practice.

For a snapshot of where the University stood in 1993 read the executive summary below. Find out why a university hospital was important then. And, whether it was absolutely necessary that the University owned the hospital.


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When the Board of Regents formally reorganized the health sciences into the Academic Health Center in July of 1970 it appointed Dr. Lyle French, then head of neurosurgery, as Acting Vice President for Health Sciences. In March of 1971 the Regents removed “acting” from the title and made Dr. French a full vice president.

In 1976 Dr. French requested a review of his position by the Office of the President to evaluate its effectiveness. The final report was very complimentary of Dr. French and the success of the still relatively new position of Vice President for Health Sciences. In 1981, Dr. French stepped down from his position as Vice President and returned to teaching and research.

After eleven years, the Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences was set to become vacant and the first formal search to fill the position began. Below are draft copies of the job ads sent to the Chronicle and various professional journals. You’ll note that the position does not oversee the College of Veterinary Medicine. Although the 1970 reorganization aligned the CVM closely with the AHC, the reporting structure did not officially change until 1985.

The search concluded in 1982 when the Regents approved the appointment of Dr. Neal Vanselow, Chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, as the new Vice President for Health Sciences.

Read the job ads below. Would you have applied?


Gross anatomy

From time to time, when sorting though boxes and folders of personal papers and office records, certain things will jump out at you as being out of place or not part of the original intention of the creator. Often times this addition to a collection is an unwanted biological guest like bugs or spiders (sometimes living but mostly dead), mold or mildew (usually dormant but sometimes active), and once I even saw the skeletal remains of a mouse (definitely an unintentional addition).

However, working with collections that focus on the health sciences, stumbling across a biological specimen is usually no accident at all. I’ve found random, unlabeled paraffin wax pathology samples as well as a wax cast of the inner ear (harvested post-mortem).

Today was a new anatomical sample in the archives. Inside this miniature cigar box were nearly two dozen envelopes containing extracted adult human teeth from the 1950s.


Most had their full roots and represented all types of molars, bicuspids, and incisors.


It was as if some contemptuous tooth fairy had stashed them away.