Duane Compton appointed as dean of Geisel

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 4/6/17 2:05am

Former interim dean of the Geisel School of Medicine Duane Compton was announced as the next dean of the medical school, effective immediately, in a campus-wide email sent Wednesday by College President Phil Hanlon and Provost Carolyn Dever. Compton will serve a four-year term.

A biochemistry and cell biology professor, Compton has served as interim dean at Geisel for nearly three years. Compton previously served as senior associate dean for research at Geisel and associate director for basic sciences and director of the Cancer Mechanisms Research Program at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, after joining the faculty at Dartmouth in 1993.

In a College press release, Hanlon said that Compton’s deep understanding of Geisel’s structure and long-term goals, as well as his “unwavering” commitment to the school, will benefit him as Geisel’s leader.

Since fall 2015, Compton has been overseeing a budgetary overhaul and structural reorganization of Geisel in an attempt to alleviate financial concerns. In September 2015, Compton announced a three-year plan to reallocate resources to Geisel’s strongest programs and stabilize the budget — the medical school was running a $26 to 28 million annual deficit at the time. This past fiscal year, the College reported that the reorganization of Geisel cost about $53.5 million.

During his tenure as interim dean, as part of the reorganization, Compton oversaw the formation of the department for medical education and the realignment of the basic science departments, which included promoting faculty recruitment, launching new departments and consolidating smaller departments into larger ones.

Compton said his three primary areas of focus over his four-year term will be medical education, discovery sciences, which are “disciplines discovering new ways to think about disease mechanisms and therapies,” and delivery sciences, which focus on healthcare systems.

“Everything we’re doing is really structuring towards those three aims,” Compton said.

As part of Geisel’s reorganization strategy, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center will take on financial and administrative responsibilities for research in clinical departments, which were previously managed by Geisel. As a result, DHMC needs to build additional infrastructure to support areas such as human resource management, grant procurement and compliance and integrity policy.

Geisel’s reorganization allowed the school to drop some external lease agreements, which saved money that has been put toward areas such as recruitment and some salary increases, according to Compton. Ultimately, the adjustments Geisel has made have had a positive effect on the budget, Compton said.

“We’re trying to go through the reorganization not necessarily as a contraction exercise but as an exercise that allows us to put our resources in the best place to support our faculty and students,” he said.

Compton said that Geisel successfully combines “discovery” with “delivery,” and that its curriculum focuses on training new physicians to think about delivering therapies to patients effectively and efficiently.

“I think that’s where we’re going to make our impact,” Compton said.

Compton received an NIH MERIT Award in 2013 for his research on the mechanisms of chromosome separation during cell division. He was also elected a member of the school’s Academy of Faculty Master Educators in 2012 and has served on more than a dozen national committees, such as the American Cancer Society.

For Compton, the best part of the job is getting to help people at Geisel.

“It’s all about facilitating the faculty and students and making their lives better,” Compton said. “I like helping people, so this job allows me to do that.”