Interim Chancellor Sam Hawgood is named to head UC San Francisco

Dr. Sam Hawgood
Dr. Sam Hawgood has been nominated to be UC San Francisco chancellor.
( University of California)

Sam Hawgood, the dean of UC San Francisco’s medical school and interim chancellor of that campus since April, was nominated Wednesday to become the permanent leader of the research-powerhouse university.

UC system President Janet Napolitano chose Hawgood to succeed former UC San Francisco Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, who left in March to become chief executive of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the well-funded charity that is active worldwide on health and poverty issues.  The UC board of regents is scheduled to vote next week on Hawgood’s nomination and salary.

The Australian-born Hawgood, 61, previously was chairman of pediatrics and associate director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at UC San Francisco.  He became interim medical dean in 2007 in the wake of the firing of dean David Kessler over disputes with UC administrators about financial accounting. Two years later, Hawgood was named full dean and vice chancellor for medical affairs.

Unlike the other nine UC campuses, UC San Francisco does not enroll undergraduates but concentrates on medical and scientific training and research. A $4-billion operation, the campus enrolls about 5,600 students, residents and post-doctoral fellows and has highly ranked schools of dentistry, nursing and pharmacy.


It is affiliated with such large hospitals as UCSF Medical Center and San Francisco General. Its medical school received nearly $440 million last year from the National Institutes of Health, the most of any medical school in the nation, UC officials said.

In her announcement Wednesday, Napolitano said that Hawgood “possesses the mix of vision, curiosity and empathy essential to the dynamic leadership required to move this already stellar UC institution to even greater heights. When a rigorous, far-reaching search lands on a candidate from within, it demonstrates the fundamental strength of the institution.”

Hawgood graduated from the University of Queensland in Brisbane with a degree in medicine and surgery. He joined UCSF as a research fellow in 1982, working on treatments that improve lung functions for premature infants and others.

He declined requests for interviews Wednesday until the regents review his nomination next week.


Desmond-Hellmann, an oncologist, previously held high executive positions at biotechnology giant Genentech.  She had raised some eyebrows among UC traditionalists two years ago when she proposed a governance plan that would have given the San Francisco campus more independence from the UC system, especially in areas of finance. The UC regents did not approve her proposal.

Some of her supporters believed she should have been a candidate to become UC president, the job that last year went to Napolitano, the former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.

Follow me @larrygordonlat.

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