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Dean of Medical School to Quit

March 11, 2004|Tracy Weber and Lisa Girion | Times Staff Writers

The longtime dean of USC's Keck School of Medicine, Dr. Stephen J. Ryan, announced Tuesday that he was stepping down after 13 years to return to his work as an academic ophthalmologist.

Stephen Tullman, chief executive of USC University Hospital, also submitted his resignation Tuesday and left the same day. Tullman could not be reached for comment.

Officials with Tenet Healthcare Corp., which owns the hospital, would not say why Tullman, who had run the Los Angeles facility about a year, resigned. He was replaced by Ted Schreck, a Tenet regional vice president who had served as chief executive of the hospital for about three years, starting in May 1998.

USC University is a teaching and research hospital staffed by doctors with academic appointments to the Keck school.

Officials from Tenet and the Keck school said the resignations had been coincidental.

"From the perspective I'm aware of, these are two completely separate and unrelated events," Schreck said.

Ryan, who has led the Keck school since 1991, said he had decided the time was right to leave "while I have my health, while I have my energy and while I have lots of ideas."

Despite his long tenure as dean, Ryan, 63, said he had always identified himself first as an ophthalmologist. "I don't strike up conversations with people saying I'm a dean," he said Wednesday. "I tell them I'm an ophthalmologist. I'm very proud of that."

He said he was preparing the fourth edition of his 2,500-page, three-volume text called "Retina." "I really have to put in a lot of time to keep that book at the top of the field," he said.

The Keck school, after some rough financial years, is in the position to have its choice of top academic leaders to replace him, Ryan said.

During his tenure, the school established a partnership with USC University that allowed it to recruit top-caliber academic surgeons who would also have a place to build private practices. In 1999, the W.M. Keck Foundation donated $110 million to the school, at the time the largest gift ever to a medical school.

"I believe the school is in a secure position today," Ryan said. "Now is the right time for change."

He will continue as dean until June 30, when he will return to his position as president of the USC-affiliated Doheny Eye Institute. A search committee will seek his replacement.

Tullman, the former USC University chief, came from Century City Hospital, another Tenet facility where he also served as chief executive.

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