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MU Dean of Medicine Accepts Arizona Position

Crist will be missed for his vision and leadership, Chancellor says

Aug. 14, 2008

Story Contact:  Mary Jo Banken, (573) 882-6212,

COLUMBIA, Mo. - University of Missouri Dean of Medicine William Crist has accepted a position as Vice President for Health Affairs at the University of Arizona.  He will begin his new duties Oct. 31, 2008.

“We will miss his visionary leadership and his ability to recruit some of the finest faculty in the world to the medical school,” MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said. “Dean Crist has helped move the school forward and made tremendous strides in our fund-raising efforts. He has served as a wonderful role model, donating $3 million to the medical school for scholarships. We intend to continue moving forward as we wish Dean Crist the best of luck with this new opportunity.”

Crist is a 1969 graduate of MU’s School of Medicine who went on to become one of the nation’s most respected pediatric cancer specialists. Before returning to MU as dean of the School of Medicine, Crist’s career focused on improving understanding of childhood leukemias and their treatments. He served as director of pediatric and adolescent medicine at the Mayo Medical Center in Rochester, Minn.; chair of hematology and oncology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and as director of pediatric hematology and oncology at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis. From 1976-85 he served as director of pediatric hematology and oncology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. He was named dean of MU's School of Medicine in 2000 and in 2004, became the school's first Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson endowed Dean.
 “My decision to leave Missouri and its flagship university was difficult to say the least,” Crist said. “I was raised in Missouri, and the education I received from MU allowed me to have a fulfilling career focused on improving care for children with cancer. I also cherish the many professional and personal relationships I formed since returning to MU. While I am proud of what we accomplished during my time as dean, the position of vice president at the University of Arizona offers new and exciting opportunities that suit this stage in my career.”

With strong support from alumni and the community, Crist and the medical school faculty have focused on recruiting leaders and increasing resources during the past eight years. The medical school’s major successes include increasing the size of its faculty more than 60 percent to an unprecedented level of 650 members. These physician scientists and basic scientists include exceptional new associate deans for education and research, 19 department chairs, and numerous center directors and division chiefs who will continue to provide strong leadership.

In terms of resources, the medical school’s core budget grew by approximately $100 million, an increase of more than 70 percent. The budget was bolstered by an 88 percent increase in University Physicians revenue, by raising more than $100 million as part of MU’s capital campaign and by tripling endowment and research grants. The medical school also constructed and renovated buildings to create modern facilities for its academic missions, including 90,000 square feet for research. The medical school curriculum has become increasingly innovative by emphasizing patient-centered care and incorporating new technologies.  

“Given Dr. Crist’s outstanding record of accomplishments throughout his career, it is not surprising that major institutions would be looking to him for leadership,” Deaton said. “We recruited an outstanding leader when he returned to his alma mater, and it’s not unexpected that others would be recruiting him now, given his lifetime achievements. He has made a great contribution here and we will miss him.”