Former MU School of Medicine dean reinstated following resignation

Many faculty felt the resignation was a firing by former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.
Courtesy photo of Patrice Delafontaine. Courtesy of MU News Bureau

Interim Chancellor Hank Foley announced Thursday in an email that Dr. Patrice Delafontaine has been reinstated as the dean of the School of Medicine, effective immediately. Delafontaine resigned in September after serving as dean for 10 months, but some faculty members felt that he was forced out by former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.

“Dr. Delafontaine has been recognized by his peers as an outstanding leader with a track record of building great medical education,” Foley said in the email. “His appointment is particularly critical in furthering our research mission, and it demonstrates our commitment, as leaders of the university, to developing key faculty members who can have a lasting impact on our institution.”

Foley said that Delafontaine, who grew up during apartheid in South Africa and throughout his career has held a “strong commitment to diversity initiatives,” will help MU become a national model for inclusion and diversity.

At the time of his resignation, Delafontaine declined to address what led to his stepping down. After he resigned, a survey completed by more than half the faculty in the School of Medicine revealed that they felt Delafontaine was forced to resign by Loftin, according to the Columbia Missourian. Other faculty members referred to Delafontaine’s resignation as a firing.

Many faculty felt that his resignation would make it difficult to attract a new dean and might have a negative effect on the school’s reaccreditation process.

Delafontaine’s resignation was a contributing factor in the administrative and faculty discontent that led to Loftin’s resignation in November. Hours before Loftin’s resignation, nine deans from schools across MU sent a letter to the UM System Board of Curators calling for his removal and cited Delafontaine’s resignation as one of many reasons contributing to Loftin’s “failed leadership.”

Foley’s email included an announcement from Provost Garnett Stokes that had been sent to deans, chancellor’s staff and provost staff. The reinstatement, she said in her announcement, comes following “numerous conversations” between administrators and School of Medicine faculty.

“His leadership will strengthen our reputation as a leading public research university that provides excellent clinical, educational and research opportunities for our students,” Stokes said. “Dr. Delafontaine has also demonstrated a commitment to creating a more inclusive and diverse community, which is essential for the success of the MU health enterprise and for the entire Mizzou campus.”

Foley and Stokes both thanked Dr. James Stannard for serving as the interim dean of the School of Medicine during a “period of transition.”

“He was asked to lead during a challenging time, and he has my very deepest appreciation,” Stokes said.

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