Monday, January 23, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust: President of UMDNJ Fired

The new Governor of the State of New Jersey, Jon Corzine, has secured the resignation of the President of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), John Petillo.
We have posted repeatedly (most recently here) about the multiple scandals at UMDNJ, which resulted in the University signing a deferred prosecution agreement with the federal government, and accepting federal monitoring of its operations.
According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Petillo will get a severance agreement worth $600, 000 in exchange for his promise to depart by February 28. A variety of comments suggested that Petillo, although not directly responsible for the mess at UMDNJ, was slow to clean it up. Former NJ Governor Codey defended him, "he inherited a culture that he had never really encountered before, and to think that he could change it overnight is ridiculous. It's hard to describe or even understand [sic] to an outsider the way the place - as we now understand - had been run over the years." But State Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) said the resignation was "good news." She suggested that in the future the state needs to "get the best possible person for what is a very important institution...."
Also according to the Star-Ledger, many in the state are calling for a different kind of search process to find the next President. The search that resulted in Petillo's appointment cost $349,000, took four months, yet found a local candidate who had been suggested by a local political power-broker. Petillo was installed in "a lavish inaugural at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center," according to the North Jersey Media Group. But a consultant with a national search firm noted, possibly with some irony, "the one thing you can count on is ego and greed will always find you good candidates."
In my humble opinion, UMDNJ could use someone not motivated by ego and greed, but someone with intelligence and knowledge of health care on the ground, but more importantly, with a real commitment to behaving transparently, responsibly, and ethically.
We'll see whom they get.

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