Lee Goldman Announces Plans to Leave Posts in 2020

After 14 years in leadership positions at VP&S and CUIMC, Lee Goldman, MD, will step down as executive vice president and dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine and chief executive of the medical center on June 30, 2020. He is the longest-serving dean since Willard Rappleye served as dean from 1930 to 1958.

When Columbia President Lee Bollinger announced Dr. Goldman’s plans to step down, he recalled how Dr. Goldman was already a deeply admired figure in academic medicine when he arrived to lead the medical center and medical school in 2006 after chairing the Department of Medicine at UCSF following positions at Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “His name was associated with diagnostic approaches he developed for predicting the cardiac risk of noncardiac surgery and for determining which patients with chest pain require hospitalization, and he was at the forefront of creating the modern concept of hospitalists—innovations that transformed the delivery of medical care.”

His career flourished as dean of VP&S and chief executive of CUIMC. President Bollinger cited a host of initiatives that have strengthened CUIMC. He singled out his fundraising success—more than $2.5 billion in donations since 2006—and mentioned his stewardship of intellectual leadership that resulted in the launch of the Precision Medicine Initiative and the subsequent creation of the Institute for Genomic Medicine.

“Dr. Goldman’s impact on the medical center’s faculty will be felt for many years to come,” said President Bollinger. He committed $55 million to the hiring of women and underrepresented minorities and facilitated the establishment of the Virginia Kneeland Frantz Society for Women Faculty and the Kenneth A. Forde Diversity Alliance. Four new academic departments were formed during the Goldman era: Neuroscience, Systems Biology, Emergency Medicine, and Medical Humanities & Ethics. On the clinical front, Dr. Goldman’s tenure saw the creation of a modern Faculty Practice Organization, expansion to Westchester, New York, and other parts of Manhattan, and enhancement of the clinical collaboration with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. The growth of research funding is a testament to the school’s research progress under Dr. Goldman’s leadership.

In education, President Bollinger described Dr. Goldman’s legacy as an enduring one. “From the opening of the spectacular new Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center, to the adoption of an innovative curriculum and state-of-the-art simulation training, and on to the replacement of need-based loans with the scholarships essential to assembling a diverse student body, the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons is transformed.”

In an email to the CUIMC campus in May, Dr. Goldman shared his reasons for stepping down in 2020. “My decision is driven by both personal and professional reasons. By a year from now, I will be 72 and have spent nearly 20% of my life as dean here. As deeply satisfying as that experience has been for me, it will be time for me to come full circle and re-focus on the intellectual priorities that first led me to a career in academic medicine.” He added a statement of confidence that VP&S and CUIMC—“both of which were newly named based on truly transformative philanthropy during the past two years”—will continue to thrive and are “ready for their next acts.”

“We have worked hard to create a supportive environment in which everyone can succeed. Focus group feedback from faculty, staff, and trainees has informed initiatives to improve the electronic medical record, grants management, parental leave policies, staff career opportunities, child care, and the learning environment,” Dr. Goldman wrote.

He added an acknowledgement of the advantages of having an integrated health sciences campus. “The successes of the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, and the School of Nursing have paralleled the success at VP&S, with curricular innovations and growing academic programs. We have made major investments in our campus, not only the new Vagelos Education Center but also a new, world-class building for the School of Nursing, the Hammer learning center, Schaefer gallery, and Alumni Auditorium. All together, we have built or renovated nearly 1.7 million square feet of space for our students, clinicians, researchers, and staff.”

Calling himself a temporary steward of VP&S and CUIMC, Dr. Goldman added, “Success is a team effort, and I will always be personally grateful to everyone whose time, energy, and resources have contributed to the success of VP&S and CUIMC.”

Dr. Goldman will remain on the VP&S and Mailman School of Public Health faculties after he steps down from his executive positions.