UC Irvine recently announced that Dr. Stanley van den Noort, dean of the campus medical college for nearly 12 years, will not be reappointed when his term expires June 30. No official grounds were given for the decision, but speculation is that the main--if not only--reason is the bitter, 10-year battle van den Noort waged for an on-campus teaching hospital.
He was the leading opponent of an off-campus community hospital, the one that local and state planning officials finally approved. The off-campus hospital was pushed by many community leaders, including van den Noort's own boss, retired Chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich Jr., and by prominent firms, including the Irvine Co.
Whatever the reason for his ouster, what must not be forgotten is the contribution van den Noort has made to the university medical college, medicine and the community in his years as dean.
When he took over the UCI medical college, it was an undistinguished program ranked near the bottom of the nation's medical schools, a ranking Aldrich once said was "89th out of 89." Today it is ranked in the top 15%.
Van den Noort has also earned a reputation for championing health care and programs for the poor. And his affirmative action program to train and graduate minority physicians at UCI is considered one of the nation's best. About 40% of the medical college's students are women, more than 15% are Latino and another 15% are black or Asian.
On June 30, when his present term as dean expires, van den Noort will return to his former position as a professor of neurology. The university may well find a new dean who is less controversial and more palatable to the community leaders who clashed with van den Noort. We hope that person will also be as devoted and dedicated to his causes.