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Founding dean of fledgling El Paso medical school fired


The founding dean of the fledgling El Paso campus of the Texas Tech University medical school said he was abruptly fired after he refused to resign.

Dr. Robert Suskind said he wasn’t given a reason for his termination.

“I am very disappointed; it came as a shock. I have no idea why this happened,” said Suskind, who held the job for nine months.

Dr. John Baldwin, president of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, couldn’t be reached for comment on his decision Wednesday.

Baldwin has been the center’s president for three weeks. The position oversees the Lubbock medical school and six other Texas campuses.

Rick Francis, a member of the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents, said Baldwin is “looking for a different skills set.”

Francis declined to say whether the decision came as a surprise.

The state this year approved $48 million for the El Paso school, which opened as a two-year campus in 1973. El Paso leaders had long lobbied for a four-year school. They said the region needs a medical school to meet a local need for doctors and to focus treatment on diseases affecting the area, such as diabetes, obesity and depression.

Suskind, 69, came to El Paso from Chicago Medical School in January to lead the new medical school’s bid for accreditation. Officials with the national accreditation board are scheduled to visit the El Paso campus in two months as the school works toward a fall 2009 opening.

Suskind said the school has been on track for accreditation, but he worried that his firing would indicate instability and hurt recruitment of faculty members for the new four-year program.

Suskind will be replaced by Dr. Jose Manuel de la Rosa, who had been a vice dean in the school.

Francis said De la Rosa is familiar with the accreditation process and school leadership.

“I am very confident in John Baldwin and Manny de la Rosa’s leadership,” Francis said.

Information from: El Paso Times,

–Associated Press

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