Acting Dean Moves Up at UCI Medical School : Education: Thomas Cesario, viewed as a popular choice for the job, helped bring sense of calm during tough budget times. He pledges to tackle equity concerns over women and minority faculty members.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A physician who has been acting dean of UC Irvine's medical school was named permanently to the post, university officials announced Monday.

Dr. Thomas C. Cesario, 54, of Newport Beach is viewed as a popular choice who helped bring a sense of calm to the medical school during tough budget times. The school has come under fire for poor recruitment of female faculty, and administrators have said it has had tenuous relations with the UCI Medical Center in Orange.

"The most important thing for being a dean of a medical school is to be a consensus builder, because medical schools are very complex places with multiple missions," UCI Executive Vice Chancellor Sidney H. Golub said. "Tom has shown he can do that. That's a rare skill."

Cesario has been acting dean of the College of Medicine since March, 1994, a few months after Dr. Walter L. Henry resigned as dean. Cesario is scheduled to be appointed by the University of California Board of Regents at its March 17 meeting, UCI spokeswoman Karen Newell Young said.

"This is an exciting place to be," Cesario said Monday. "The school has really been growing, and I think there is an opportunity to really contribute to the faculty and the community."

Samuel Eric Wilson, chairman of the surgery department and of the search committee, said Cesario was chosen from about 100 candidates because he is well-respected in the medical community and communicates well with a variety of people at the university, where he has worked for about 23 years.

Wilson said Cesario became acting dean when the school was experiencing "troubled waters. . . . But over the course of the year, he set himself apart."

As head of the College of Medicine, Cesario oversees about 500 professors involved in research, teaching and clinical work. The college's budget of about $160 million includes nearly $50 million in government and private contracts for research, UCI officials said.

Chancellor Laurel L. Wilkening said in September that increasing research at the 1,200-student college is critical to UCI's goal of moving into the nation's top 50 research institutions by the year 2000. Golub said Cesario and his staff will play important roles.

"They've done some excellent recruitment of research-oriented faculty," Golub said.

Recruiting more female faculty also has been a hot issue at the college. A committee on the status of women was formed in 1989 after complaints that women were not being recruited or promoted to full professor positions at the medical school.

In June, the committee reported that less than 17% of the medical college's faculty members on the tenure track were women, compared to about 28% nationwide. About 9% of tenured professors at the medical school were women, compared to more than 11% nationwide.

Cesario pledged to pay renewed attention to recruitment and salary equity for women in the medical school, as well as the status of minority faculty.

Pediatrics professor Phyllis Agran, a member of the faculty group We Advocate Gender Equity, said Cesario was a good choice.

"I'm very supportive of the dean, and I have great expectations that he will reverse a deplorable record of gender bias, represented by salary inequity, hiring and retention at the UCI medical school," Agran said. "I expect this to be measured by a change in the number of women recruited to tenure positions and promoted through the ranks."

Cesario said his first priority is to boost the school's academic stature with more grants and top faculty members. Course work revision already is underway.

Also, he said, "you'll see that in (teaching about) clinical services, we'll be looking at cost-effectiveness. We'll teach more outpatient medicine and managed care" to keep up with changes in modern medical practice.

In the coming months, construction is expected to begin on the first of what university officials hope will be several buildings making up the Center for Health Sciences, viewed as integral to attracting research. The first building will be a neuroscience institute.

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Profile: Dr. Thomas C. Cesario

Age: 54

Home: Newport Beach

Family: Wife, Mary, and four children

New job: Dean of the UCI College of Medicine

Previous posts: Acting dean, College of Medicine; chairman, UCI Department of Medicine; director, UCI Program in Geriatrics; assistant professor of medicine, UCI

Education: bachelor's of science, medical sciences, magna cum laude, 1962; M.D., with honors, 1965, both from University of Wisconsin

Honors: 1993 California Medical Assn. Golden Apple Award, given to physicians who are exceptional educators and scientists; served as governor of the American College of Physicians

Source: Thomas C. Cesario; Researched by ALICIA DI RADO / Los Angeles Times

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