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UK's Largest College Has a New Dean

by Jeff Worley

Photo of Jay PermanJay Perman wasn't at all unhappy as professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics in the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He enjoyed his work. His colleagues were bright and hard-working, and Perman liked doing clinical rounds—helping less experienced doctors and talking with kids who had various health problems.

So why did he come to UK?

"I had begun to realize at Maryland that as chair of pediatrics what I really enjoyed most was the opportunity to create warm, well-functioning environments for smart people, which is really the job of a dean," says Perman, who became dean of UK's College of Medicine and the university's vice president for clinical affairs last May. "I had evolved into a 'dean mindset,' I realized. I loved it when a faculty member I had encouraged would come in and say, 'I just got my paper accepted in Nature or Science,' or a resident would come in and say, 'I just had a wonderful rotation and wanted to thank you for the fact that the teacher was so good.'"

So when his name was put forward by outgoing College of Medicine dean Emery Wilson, now director of the college's Area Health Education Center, Perman jumped at the chance.

"Truthfully, one of the reasons I wanted to come here is because I like places that have a lot of ambition, and UK certainly has that. I like places that aren't full of themselves, that don't think they're already at the top of the mountain. I wanted to help move a college into new and significant directions, but first you have to have a place that wants to be moved. I loved the sparkle of ambition I saw here."

As dean, Perman has the daunting responsibility for the leadership and management of the largest college at UK—21 academic departments, 12 centers, over 700 faculty, 1,800 staff members, 823 medical and graduate students, and 500 residents and fellows. How can one man accomplish such a thing? Is he planning on working 20-hour days?

"Yeah, I work hard, but it's the usual secret. If you have a lot of good people around you, you can do all of that. The current leadership of those departments and centers is very good."

Perman's career has taken him from the Midwest to the East Coast to the West Coast and back east again. He received a Doctor of Medicine degree with Distinction in 1972 from Northwestern University in Chicago, completed a fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology at Harvard Medical School and at the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Boston. Then from 1977 to 1984, he was in the pediatrics department at the University of California, San Francisco. After 12 years at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as professor of pediatrics and three years as chair of pediatrics at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, he went to the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

"In addition to being an accomplished investigator and an advocate for medical education, he is a consummate clinician who still practices pediatric gastroenterology," says UK Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Michael Karpf, "He also is a respected leader who can help focus the faculty on achieving excellence in all three of their mandates—research, education and clinical care."

Entire In Brief section as pdf