Jerris R. Hedges, MD will retire as dean of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) on March 1, 2023 after 15 years leading the state’s only medical school. Hedges made the announcement this morning in an email to JABSOM students, faculty and staff. Announcing his planned retirement in September 2022 gives UH leadership the opportunity to recruit his replacement in advance of the next LCME (Liaison Committee on Medical Education ) medical school accreditation cycle.
With physician training and retention in Hawaiʻi as his top priority as JABSOM dean, Hedges has worked tirelessly with Hawaiʻi lawmakers and private donors to grow the medical school and provide increased training opportunities, especially on the neighbor islands. He has worked closely with Hawaiʻi‘s health systems (i.e., community hospitals and clinics) and leaders in nursing, social work, public health, cancer research and pharmacy to help envision a unified and supportive academic and clinical learning environment for all of UH’s health and health sciences — through support of his health science colleagues within UH, oversight of the University Health Partners of Hawaii board of directors, and collaboration with many community partners.
JABSOM also contributed greatly to the university’s research success through his leadership on several multi-professional National Institutes of Health (NIH) research infrastructure grants. The medical school also gained greater national visibility, experiencing a significant rise in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of the nation’s best medical schools.
Hedges was elected the Hawaii Medical Association Physician of the Year in 2013. Hedges also served as interim director for the UH Cancer Center from 2014–2016. He is currently the only UH employee elected to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine.
“It has been an honor to serve the people of Hawaiʻi,” said Hedges. “Growing the size of the medical school class, leading the school through two successful eight-year Liaison Committee on Medical Education accreditation cycles, building stronger relationships with the health systems in Hawaiʻi through the forging of unique academic affiliation agreements and helping align the UH health professions during economic downturns and a pandemic have been challenging. I am hopeful that the medical school will continue to provide support and guidance for Hawaiʻi as we come out of the pandemic.”
Hedges said he also looks forward to continuing to help guide the NIH-sponsored Ola HAWAIʻI health disparities grant upon retirement.
“The university and the people of Hawaiʻi are fortunate to have had a leader with the creativity, passion, and dedication that Jerris has displayed throughout his years of service at Mānoa,” said Michael S. Bruno, provost of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. “I am personally indebted to Jerris for his advice and guidance throughout the pandemic, and I know that I speak for all of his colleagues across our colleges and schools when I wish him fair winds and following seas during his richly deserved retirement!”
Dean Hedges sent the following e-mail message to JABSOM ʻohana (students, faculty, staff, friends of JABSOM and recent graduates) on September 2.
I’ve been privileged to serve as your dean. Together, we’ve endured many challenges, including tsunami, hurricane and missile crisis warnings, not to mention a protracted pandemic. However, we’ve also grown in character and in our accomplishments.
Our strong research programs, rise in national school standing, MD class size growth, evolving neighbor island training activities, unique alignment of our departments’ clinical activities within our major health system partners, and several major educational innovations are some of the highlights of our time together.
On March 1, 2023, I will begin a new chapter as a retired dean. Before the announcement is made public, I wanted you to first hear directly from me.
This is a decision that I did not undertake lightly. Most medical school deans serve for only 3–4 years. I will be blessed to have completed 15 years with JABSOM next March (2023), and I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished together. Most of all, I am blessed to have served on your behalf and gotten to know you as friends and ʻohana.
I’m making the announcement now to give UH leadership the opportunity to recruit my replacement before the next LCME medical school accreditation cycle. Specifically, to optimize our efforts for reaccreditation, the next appointed dean should begin serving a year from now. Please know that we have a strong JABSOM leadership team which, with me, has been developing transition plans over the last 6 months. These plans are designed to help us sustain academic momentum while UH leadership reviews their options for the appointment of the next dean.
You may have questions about the future of the school. Please feel free to forward your thoughts and comments to me as we continue the transition process. Your thoughts and guidance are important to me and the future of our school.