UNLV School of Medicine Founding Dean Barbara Atkinson announced today that she intends to transition from her leadership role at the school. The university will launch a national search for her successor this summer.
Dr. Atkinson has led the UNLV School of Medicine since its inception, serving as both planning and founding dean over the past five years. The university will begin a national search for a new dean in July, and Dr. Atkinson will continue to lead the school until the new dean is in place.
“Serving as planning dean and staying on to formally launch the school’s academic and clinical operations has been an incredible experience,” said Dr. Atkinson, who joined UNLV in 2014. “Our students are performing remarkably well and we have achieved so much together.”
When the next dean for the School of Medicine is hired, Dr. Atkinson plans to transition into a Founding Dean Emerita role, where she’ll continue to be engaged in community affairs and outreach in support of the school.
“The school is on solid footing and I believe the time is right to begin the search process to maintain our momentum and lead the school into the future,” Atkinson said. “I look forward to staying involved and witnessing the great successes of this school as they continue to unfold, including seeing our inaugural class graduate in 2021.”
Under Dr. Atkinson’s leadership, the UNLV School of Medicine has emerged as a driving force in the region’s growing healthcare landscape. The school is training future Nevada physicians, generating research, and elevating patient care for a diverse, urban community. The school welcomed its first cohort of 60 future physicians in July 2017 – all with full, four-year scholarships – and now has 120 students and more than 300 residents and fellows. The school’s graduate medical education program earned full accreditation in January, and its clinical arm, UNLV Medicine, accounts for more than 5,000 in-patient hospital visits and 10,000 clinic visits each month.
“Barbara has made immeasurable contributions to the medical school and to UNLV,” said UNLV President Marta Meana. “Her depth of expertise and knowledge were invaluable to building a strong and respected program that continues to attract highly accomplished faculty and high-achieving, outstanding students. UNLV’s School of Medicine is transforming healthcare in Southern Nevada thanks to Barbara’s leadership and vision.”
Dr. Atkinson has more than 40 years of experience as a physician, researcher, educator, and medical school administrator. She is the only woman to lead three U.S. medical schools in her career. Before joining UNLV, Dr. Atkinson served as dean at the MCP Hahnemann School of Medicine and later as dean and executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas School of Medicine. She was named planning dean for the new UNLV School of Medicine in 2014 and transitioned to founding dean in late 2015.
Dr. Atkinson was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 1997, and she was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, where she served from 2010 to 2017.