Vice Chancellor of Human Health Sciences and School of Medicine Dean Julie Freischlag will depart UC Davis Health at the end of April to take a new job as president and chief executive officer at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Freischlag, a vascular surgeon, joined UC Davis in February 2014 following a long career as the first female surgeon-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Medicine. She has led UC Davis Health's academic, research and clinical programs, including the School of Medicine, the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, the 1,000-member physician practice group, and UC Davis Medical Center, a 627-bed acute-care hospital.
“All who have worked with or learned from Dr. Freischlag know the vision, energy, passion, tenacity, and caring that she has brought to all of her duties at UC Davis,” said UC Davis Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter. “In addition to being a champion for women and underrepresented minorities in medicine and science, she is renowned for her enthusiastic mentorship of faculty, staff, and students, and for promoting health and wellness for all members of the UC Davis Health community. She is also a wonderful colleague.”
Under Freischlag’s leadership, the School of Medicine has moved close to its goal of ranking in the top 25 in the country for National Institutes of Health funding, with the school recently ranked 28th by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, a nonprofit organization that reviews and publishes NIH funding data.
“Julie has been a collaborative partner for UC Davis, and her commitment to a comprehensive strategic plan is a solid example,” said Interim UC Davis Provost Kenneth Burtis. “All of us are appreciative of her vision for long-term growth for UC Davis Health.”
In addition, “Freischlag has been a tireless advocate for medical education and medical students at UC Davis, always valued student perspectives, and vigorously supported inclusion excellence among medical students here. She helped make the dream of a medical degree a reality for many accomplished students from diverse backgrounds,” said School of Medicine Vice Dean Mark Servis.
The School of Medicine class of 2020 is more than 60 percent female, nearly half comprise racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in the medical profession, and more than half self-reported as having a “disadvantaged” background. Under Freischlag’s leadership UC Davis and The Permanente Medical Group launched Prep Médico, an initiative to expand diversity in medicine and ultimately increase the number of Latinos who choose to become physicians.
Among many other distinctions, U.S. News & World Report has recently ranked UC Davis Medical Center among the nation’s best hospitals, and UC Davis Children’s Hospital among the best children’s hospitals. The magazine has also placed the School of Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing among the nation’s top graduate schools. Also under Freischlag’s tenure, U.S. News & World Report ranked the medical center as number one in the Sacramento metro area and number five in California.
Freischlag has been at the helm of a complex health system in the midst of uncertainty for all health care organizations across the country. “During this increasingly challenging time, Dr. Freischlag has lead our organization through a comprehensive strategic planning process which has positioned us for continued success,” said UC Davis Medical Center CEO Ann Madden Rice. “I greatly appreciate her partnership in keeping patient safety and value a top priority and driving excellence for our patients and their families.”
Freischlag is renowned for her enthusiastic mentorship of pre-med students to those already established in their academic medicine careers, particularly women. “She has long been a champion for the advancement of women in medicine and science,” said Diana L. Farmer, chair of the Department of Surgery, who served on the recruitment committee that ultimately appointed Freischlag. “As one of a relatively small – but growing – number of women in top academic leadership roles in the United States, she has inspired countless women and men from all backgrounds to pursue a medical career and has helped so many navigate a forward path in academic medicine – what she has called ‘bouncing up.’”
Of Dr. Freischlag’s new position, Hexter remarked, “This is a tremendous opportunity for her to explore new horizons in advancing patient care, health and wellness, and medical education. I know all will join me in wishing her every success in her new role.”
Reflecting on her time at UC Davis Health, Freischlag shared gratitude for the opportunity to lead the organization forward. “UC Davis is a world-class university, and it was truly an honor to work with such a diverse, dedicated and talented group of faculty, students and staff,” she said. “UC Davis Health has a strong and passionate leadership team prepared to carry the mission ahead, and I depart knowing the organization will continue to build on its existing achievements. I am so thankful for my experience here.”
Both Hexter and Burtis are working with UC Davis Health leadership and the University of California Office of the President to develop a recruitment plan for the next vice chancellor for Human Health Sciences and School of Medicine dean and will name an interim replacement before Freischlag departs.
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