UC Regents Confirm Sam Hawgood as UCSF’s 10th Chancellor

UC President Janet Napolitano shakes the hand of the newly confirmed UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, at a press briefing after the Board of Regents approved his appointment on July 17. Photo by Cindy Chew

By Kristen Bole on July 17, 2014

Sam Hawgood, MBBS, was confirmed Thursday morning as UC San Francisco’s 10th chancellor in a unanimous vote by the UC Board of Regents.

Hawgood, 61, whom University of California President Janet Napolitano tapped for the position July 9 after an international search for a leader for the $4.2 billion health sciences campus, has served as interim chancellor since April 1, when he succeeded Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH.

Chancellor Sam Hawgood talks about his appointment, the culmination of a long career at UCSF, and his vision for the University.

“Throughout a truly exhaustive selection process … Dr. Hawgood demonstrated the intellectual inquisitiveness, leadership acumen and powerful vision we seek in our chancellors,” Napolitano said, noting that the search committee reviewed more than 375 candidates for the role before narrowing it down to seven finalists. “When an exhaustive search lands on a candidate from within the institution, I think it is a sign itself that the enterprise is fundamentally robust.”

Now celebrating its 150th anniversary, UCSF includes nationally top-ranked graduate schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing and pharmacy, as well as affiliated hospitals, a pre-eminent biomedical research enterprise and a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences.

In accepting the appointment, Hawgood said he is fully aware that it will not be by his appointment, but rather his actions, that he will earn the title.

“The work we do at UCSF occurs at the intersection of three sectors – higher education, health care and discovery,” he said. “Opportunities for advancement, even transformation, in all three sectors are huge but all three of these sectors are also ripe for disruption by new organizational and business models.

“As chancellor,” he continued, “I will have both the opportunity and indeed the obligation to provide forward-looking leadership and make UCSF a model for the country at a time of such great opportunity in the health sciences.”

An Unwavering Commitment to Excellence

The appointment was met with high praise both inside UCSF and externally, with members of the academic, scientific, clinical and political worlds praising Hawgood’s thoughtful and highly principled approach to everything he undertakes and his “unequalled” breadth of experience as an academic physician, research scientist, educator and dean of one of the nation’s top medical schools.

Reaction to UCSF's New Chancellor

"It is no surprise that even after reviewing hundreds of candidates, we found the perfect nominee within the ranks of UCSF itself.  From his work as a researcher and teacher to his positions as Dean of the Medical School and interim Chancellor, Dr. Sam Hawgood has embodied UCSF’s culture of excellence. He is a dedicated educator, a proven leader, and a terrific choice for chancellor of UCSF."

U.S. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi


"Sam is a thoughtful and respected national leader in academic medicine, with a deep understanding of UCSF and what has made it the premier U.S. university exclusively dedicated to health sciences. I look forward to working with him in his new role just as I have enjoyed working with him over the past 20 years."

Lee Goldman, MD, MPH
Dean of Health Sciences & Medicine, Columbia University
Former Associate Dean, UCSF School of Medicine


"Sam is an incredibly thoughtful individual who brings to the Chancellorship great understanding of the varied missions of UCSF (research, education, clinical service). He also understands and values the important, synergistic relationship between UCSF and San Francisco community."

John Stobo, MD
Senior Vice President of Health Sciences and Services
UC Office of the President


"Knowing Sam and UCSF as well as I do, I believe this match is perfect. ... He will certainly ensure that UCSF realizes its enormous promise for advancing health worldwide."

Eugene Washington, MD
Vice Chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences
Former UCSF Executive Vice Chancellor


"I am confident that he will provide the leadership needed for UCSF to be the world’s preeminent health science innovator and to advance health worldwide through innovative health sciences education, discovery and patient care."

Bertram Lubin, MD
President & Chief Executive Officer
UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland

“Sam Hawgood is a brilliant clinician, a superb scientist, an incomparable teacher, an imaginative administrator and an inspiring leader,” said John A. Clements, MD, who was instrumental in bringing Hawgood to UCSF in 1982 and whose research into the lungs of premature infants served as a springboard for Hawgood’s own ongoing research in neonatology. “UCSF is fortunate indeed to have recruited him as chancellor.”

His comments were echoed by Larry Shapiro, MD, who was Hawgood’s predecessor as the W.H. and Marie Wattis Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics from 1991 to 2003, and is now dean of the Washington University School of Medicine.

“Sam is a visionary and internationally respected leader in medicine, health sciences and biological research,” Shapiro said. “He is a superb physician and a highly accomplished scientist. In addition, those that know him well appreciate his intellect, his warmth, his thoughtfulness, his unwavering commitment to excellence and his integrity. He knows UCSF intimately and is fully focused on advancing all of its missions.

Internally, UCSF leaders noted Hawgood’s intimate involvement in UCSF’s most significant strategic initiatives in recent years, ranging from restructuring the renowned clinical enterprise to the campus’ vision in precision medicine. He also has been at the forefront of forging relationships across campus, with industry and with philanthropists, in UCSF’s efforts to streamline operations.

“Sam not only understands the challenges facing this great institution, he hits the ground at a full sprint to meet those challenges,” said Mark Laret, chief executive officer of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, who has worked closely with Hawgood for the past decade. “I can say without reservation that there is no better academic, no better leader and no better human being to represent and guide UCSF in the coming decade.”

Culminating a Distinguished Career

Hawgood has served UCSF in various roles for the past 32 years, most recently as dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and as vice chancellor for medical affairs since September 2009, after assuming the role of interim dean in December 2007.

A native of Australia, Hawgood entered medical school at age 17 and graduated with First Class Honors from the University of Queensland in Brisbane with a degree in medicine and surgery (MBBS).

He joined UCSF as a research fellow in 1982, working with distinguished scientists Clements and William H. Tooley, M.D., both pioneers in the discovery and therapeutic uses of pulmonary surfactant, the key lipoprotein that lines healthy lungs and enables them to expand with each breath. He has maintained his own laboratory since 1984. His research has gained him an international reputation in neonatology research.

UCSF Deans on Chancellor Appointment

"Equally committed to the education, research, and clinical missions, Sam is ideally suited to be the next chancellor of UCSF. I am thrilled to be part of his leadership team."

Elizabeth Watkins, PhD
Dean, Graduate Division and Vice Chancellor, Student Academic Affairs


"The campus is fortunate to have such an accomplished, thoughtful collaborator at the helm. I look forward to working with Chancellor Hawgood as we implement the UCSF vision."

B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD
Dean, School of Pharmacy


"Sam is a great choice for Chancellor as he brings strong academic credentials, powerful administrative experience, deep knowledge of UCSF and warmth as a person. This is a wonderful day for UCSF."

David Vlahov, PhD, RN
Dean, School of Nursing


"I am absolutely delighted that Sam Hawgood will be our new Chancellor.  He has been such a wonderful colleague to work with as a fellow Dean."

John D. B. Featherstone, MSc, PhD
Dean, School of Dentistry

Hawgood has been active for decades in clinical medicine. He served as chief of the Division of Neonatology, then as chair of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief of the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital before becoming dean. He also served as associate director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute and has been serving as president of the UCSF Medical Group, the faculty association that represents more than 1,800 UCSF physicians.

During the Regents meeting, Hawgood cited these multiple roles as a source of inspiration and understanding of the strength and culture of the institution he now leads, including the critical role of basic, curiosity-driven research, the culture of collaboration and mutual support on campus, and the “nobility of our mission to improve the health and lives of the people we are privileged to serve, and to train the next generation.”

Chancellor Sam Hawgood addresses the Board of Regents and outlines his vision for UCSF after being confirmed in his new position. Photo by Cindy Chew

“After three decades, I understand and deeply respect the core values that importantly include the principle and practice of shared governance with the faculty,” Hawgood told the Regents after they approved his appointment. “But I also know that, while we must fiercely preserve and protect these core values, our times call for a rigorous look at the reality of the world today and a willingness to boldly move forward in new directions. I embrace the opportunity to work closely with the faculty as we embark, together, on this journey.”

That is the opportunity, he said, that has driven him during his tenure as dean and excites him as he begins his new role as chancellor.

“By leading the preeminent university that is singularly focused on the health sciences, I embrace the critical role the UCSF chancellor must play here in San Francisco, across the UC system, nationally – and even internationally – as academic medicine adapts to the reality of the world it occupies today,” Hawgood said in his culminating remarks. “No institution is better positioned to lead at this time of exceptional opportunity.”

Watch Sam Hawgood's full remarks at the UC Board of Regents meeting: