Chancellor Discusses Transition Plan, Thanks UCSF Community in Video Message

Desmond-Hellmann ‘Leaving UCSF a Better Place and in Very Capable Hands’

By Leland Kim

In a video address to members of the UC San Francisco community, Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, conveyed a sense of optimism, excitement and hope as she prepares to hand over the reins to Interim Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, who received Regental approval on Thursday.

She said she is “thrilled with the progress” made during her tenure at UCSF in the key areas of focus: patient care, research, education, people and finances.

She also highlighted key upcoming milestones such as the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Toland Medical College, and the opening of the new UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay in February 2015.

Desmond-Hellmann also acknowledged UCSF employees for helping to make the University a world-class institution.

“Without a doubt, the people of UCSF – the faculty, staff, students, and volunteers – are what make this university great,” she said. “I have been fortunate to be surrounded by an accomplished, thoughtful and passionate group of leaders, many of whom I’ve appointed to our leadership team. I couldn’t have asked for a better team, and I have confidence that they will build upon UCSF’s excellence in the future.”

Desmond-Hellmann singled out members of her executive leadership team, including Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Jeff Bluestone, PhD; UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Chief Executive Officer Mark Laret; Senior Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration John Plotts; Vice Chancellor of Strategic Communications and University Relations Barbara French; Vice Chancellor of University Development and Alumni Relations John B. Ford; Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach Renee Navarro, PharmD, MD; Executive Director of Global Health Sciences Jaime Sepulveda, MD, MPH, DrSc; School of Dentistry Dean John D.B. Featherstone, MSc, PhD; School of Medicine Dean Sam Hawgood, MBBS; School of Pharmacy Dean B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD; School of Nursing Dean David Vlahov, PhD, RN; Vice Chancellor of Student Academic Affairs Elizabeth Watkins, PhD; Chief  Campus Counsel Greta W. Schnetzler, JD; and Associate Vice Chancellor Leigh Morgan.

Desmond-Hellmann also took an opportunity to talk about Hawgood, her interim successor.

Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH

“Sam is a proven leader and the right person to take the helm at this pivotal moment in UCSF’s history,” she said. “He is liked and respected by the community, and I am delighted Sam has agreed to lead UCSF after I leave.”

Desmond-Hellmann will step down as chancellor at the end of March to become the chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private philanthropic organization in the world.

In closing, she once again thanked the UCSF community and its supporters.

“I have every intention of continuing my longstanding relationship with UCSF into the future. I am confident that I am leaving UCSF a better place and in very capable hands,” Desmond-Hellmann said. “The strength of UCSF is truly all of you – the people of UCSF – who continue to contribute in ways that make our University one-of-a-kind.”

Photos by Elisabeth Fall/

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