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Health Center chancellor steps down (Released: 10/8/99)

by Karen A. Grava, Office of University Communications

FARMINGTON, Conn. -- Leslie Cutler, chancellor and provost for health affairs at the University of Connecticut, has announced that he is stepping down on June 30, when his appointment as chancellor ends. Cutler's responsibilities will now focus on enhancing the University's relationships with industry.

"Over the course of a long and productive career on the dental school faculty and in the administration of the Health Center, Les Cutler has contributed mightily to our teaching, clinical, research and community service programs," President Philip E. Austin said. "During his years at

the helm of the Health Center, Les led his colleagues in the design and implementation of a curriculum cited as a national model; recruited faculty of outstanding talent and breadth; created a state-of-the-art Academic Research Building; and put UConn at the center of research in areas vital to Connecticut's economic development. The latter area will be of growing importance in the years ahead, and I am delighted that Les has chosen to focus his talents there."

Cutler said he did not want to be reappointed to a new five-year term as chancellor and is looking forward to focusing his attention on economic development, an area in which he has extensive experience. Having maintained a teaching role while serving as chancellor, he also looks forward to the opportunity to increase his teaching and interactions with students. Cutler, who began working at the University as an assistant professor of oral biology in the School of Dental Medicine in 1973, was chosen as the "1997 Technology Business Leader of the Year" by the Greater Hartford Chamber of Commerce.

"Increasingly, the future of many academic enterprises will be tied to their ability to collaborate with companies of all sizes,"Cutler said. " I am looking forward to the challenge of assisting the University in its support of Connecticut's expanding biotechnology industry, which is critically important to our state's economic base."

Austin said Cutler will immediately turn his attention toward commercialization of research and strengthening the University's ties with industry. Cutler is expected to take a sabbatical during the next academic year, and then return as a professor in the Schools of Dental Medicine and Medicine in September 2001, both to focus on economic development and to teach.

"Les' decision to step down allows us to look closely at the role of the chancellor and at the organization of the Health Center," Austin said. "Health care in this country is under tremendous pressure to be more efficient and to cope with unprecedented change. We must be well prepared to meet these challenges and to maximize the Health Center's assets."

Austin indicated that he plans to review the Health Center's management structure prior to initiating a search for a new chancellor. In the interim Peter Deckers, dean of the School of Medicine, and Peter Robinson, dean of the School of Dental Medicine, will report directly to President Austin. Deckers will also chair the Health Center's senior management group.

The Health Center faces financial challenges similar to those occurring at academic health centers and hospitals throughout the country. This past year, under Cutler's leadership, the Health Center's John Dempsey Hospital was designated as the most cost-efficient hospital in the state by the State of Connecticut's Office of Health Care Access. Serious financial challenges remain, however, and Cutler recently hired Larson, Allen, Weishair and Co. of Minneapolis, Minn. to develop long-term strategies to ensure the viability of the clinical enterprises, and Tranxition Management, a subsidiary of Larson, Allen, to make suggestions about cost reductions and revenue enhancements. Their reports are expected to be completed by the end of the year and to include recommendations about the anticipated restructuring.