From the Dean

This past Monday, my wife Dr. Susan Farkas and I had the pleasure and honor of attending a retirement celebration in honor of Dave Molmen, who is retiring at the end of December as chief executive officer (CEO) at Altru Health System after some 40 years of health care service. Fortunately, Dave has agreed to continue to serve as the chair of the UND SMHS Advisory Council through the upcoming legislative session.

Dr. Eric Lunn, president of the system, was emcee of the celebration and introduced several attendees who spoke about Dave’s contributions over the years. Kris Compton, the chair of Altru’s governing board, gave the introductory comments and put into perspective the dramatic changes that health care has undergone during Dave’s tenure. Three individuals spoke throughout the dinner about Altru’s past, present, and future. Greg Gerloff, the immediate past CEO of Altru, recalled the days when he was CEO at Altru and Dave functioned as chief operating officer (COO). Then, Dr. Casey Ryan, immediate past president, talked about his time with Dave after he transitioned from the COO to the CEO position. That time obviously was one of substantial expansion of the system and its affiliation with Mayo. And then Brad Wehe, Altru’s COO under Dave and the incoming CEO in January, talked about the exciting future of Altru, including the new hospital building that will be constructed in Grand Forks over the next few years.

Just before the dinner concluded, I was asked to offer a few comments and propose a toast to Dave and Karen. In my comments, I emphasized the incredible contributions Dave made as chair of the UND SMHS Advisory Council. Under his guidance and leadership, the Council helped oversee and steer the expansion of the School’s student body by a quarter, the addition of some three dozen residency (post-MD degree training) slots with a focus on rural and primary care, increased retention of medical school graduates for practice in North Dakota, and the inauguration of various new programs such those in public health and geriatrics—not to mention the construction of a magnificent 325,000 square-foot new SMHS building on the Northeast (Grand Forks) campus that incorporates industry-leading educational concepts like our much-emulated learning communities and interprofessional health care courses that emphasize the importance of team approaches to health care delivery.

It was a wonderful night that properly recognized the innumerable contributions of this quiet, unassuming, and gentle man. All the best Dave and Karen, and thank you for all that you have done and will continue to do as we move into the next legislative session that begins on January 3, 2019.

Best wishes from Susan and me for a wonderful holiday season. And may you and yours have a healthy, happy, and wonderful New Year. My next column will appear on Friday, January 4, 2019.

Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
UND Vice President for Health Affairs
Dean, UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences