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James N. Thompson Resigns As Dean of Wake Forest University School of Medicine

James N. Thompson, M.D., has resigned as vice president and dean of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, effective July 1. In announcing his resignation today, Thompson said that he would remain on the medical school faculty as professor of otolaryngology and would expand his teaching duties and the clinical practice that he has maintained throughout his years in administration.

Thompson, 57, said he timed his resignation with the beginning of the academic year to allow the process of selecting a new dean to begin, and to give him much-needed time to serve as community chair of the 2001 Forsyth County United Way campaign.

A member of the Wake Forest faculty since 1979, Thompson became dean in 1994 and was named a university vice president in 1997.

"These seven years have been among the most rewarding in my life," he told a called meeting of the Faculty Executive Council. Among the school''s most noteworthy accomplishments during his tenure as dean, Thompson listed the completely revised curriculum that was instituted in 1998 after years in development. The school''s use of information technology as part of the curriculum has become a model for medical schools across the country, and Wake Forest has hosted two nationwide symposia on academic computing.

Thompson also cited a recent visit by the Liaison Committee for Medical Education, which accredits the nation''s medical schools. Wake Forest was one of two medical schools in recent history in which the committee found no areas of non-compliance -- and the only school to have no requirements for ongoing progress reports.

Richard H. Dean, M.D., Wake Forest''s senior vice president for health affairs, praised Thompson for his vision and his commitment to the school''s academic mission. "His successful leadership in education reform has brought great credit and recognition to Wake Forest University School of Medicine."

Dean recalled that Thompson had co-authored the commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association that called national attention to the impending "crisis" that is threatening America''s system of academic clinical research. Under Thompson''s leadership, the school partnered with the AMA and the Association of American Medical Colleges to host the first National Summit on Clinical Research.

"Further," Dean said, "his commitment to living a professional life in a spiritual way is an inspiration to those who work with him."

Dean said that he had asked C. Douglas Maynard, M.D., recently retired chair of radiology, to serve as acting dean and chair of the search committee for a new dean. He said the search committee will be appointed within a few weeks. Dean said that Thompson would serve as special advisor to him during the transition period.

Thompson got his M.D. degree from Ohio State University College of Medicine in 1971, took his residency at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, and a fellowship in otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) surgery at the University of California at Irvine before joining the faculty there as assistant professor of surgery (otolaryngology) in 1977.

He came to Wake Forest as assistant professor of surgical sciences (otolaryngology) in 1979, becoming associate professor in 1981 and professor in 1988. He was named deputy associate dean in 1986, associate dean in 1987 and was promoted to dean in 1994.

Maynard, 66, who got both his undergraduate and medical degrees from Wake Forest, served as chairman of the Department of Radiology for 22 years. He also served previously as assistant dean for admissions and as associate dean for student affairs. He is credited with being the driving force behind development of the Piedmont Triad Research Park downtown.

He just completed a term as president of the Radiological Society of North America.

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