Getting acquainted: Minor looks forward to taking on new role as dean

Keith Weller/Johns Hopkins University description of photo

Lloyd Minor, currently the provost at Johns Hopkins, will spend the fall at Stanford getting better acquainted with the School of Medicine before taking over as dean on Dec. 1.

He's a Mac user and loves using an iPad to read several books at once, but the new leader of Stanford's School of Medicine displays a trace of cheerful regret as he mentions his imminent switch to an iPhone.

"I have to confess that I've been a BlackBerry person for mobile communications because of the keyboard. But some of my colleagues are using the voice recognition on the iPhones, so I think it would be helpful for email," Lloyd Minor, MD, said with a laugh. "Because I'm moving out here, I'm definitely making the transition to the iPhone."

Minor will become the new dean of the School of Medicine on Dec. 1. An otolaryngologist who specializes in the diseases and disorders of the inner ear, he has spent the past 19 years at Johns Hopkins University, serving as provost since 2009.

And while the new leadership post will mark a much bigger transition than simply switching phones, Minor's philosophy seems similar: Rather than importing an established roadmap from his previous institution, he wants to thoroughly survey the School of Medicine's landscape to determine the right approach for charting the school's future.

Minor, 55, was in Palo Alto a few days after the July 18 announcement of his appointment, meeting with leaders of the school and getting a first glimpse at the home he and his wife, Lisa Keamy, MD, a primary-care physician, just purchased. (They were already schooled in the Bay Area's fast-paced real estate market. When a house in Portola Valley had popped onto the market the previous week, Keamy quickly flew out, toured the house and snapped it up. "I saw it for the first time this morning," he said. "We both love it.")

He won't be waiting until December to make the cross-country transition. He is wrapping up his duties at Johns Hopkins and will be on the Stanford campus beginning in September, spending three months getting to know the faculty, staff and students before taking over as dean.

about lloyd minor

Born: Little Rock, Ark.

Bachelor's in biology: Brown University, 1979

MD: Brown University, 1982

Residencies and fellowships: Duke University Medical Center, 1982-84: University of Chicago, 1984-92: The Otology Group and the EAR Institute, 1992-93

Appointed to Johns Hopkins University faculty: 1993

Chair (director) of JHU Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery: 2003-09

JHU provost: 2009-12

Family: Married to Lisa Keamy, MD; children, Emily and Sam

"My goal is to add value, and to do that I first need to know the environment," Minor said. "To know what direction we should be going together, I need to first get to know my colleagues in much greater depth than I do right now."

As the chief academic officer at Hopkins for the past three years, he oversaw the university's nine schools and implemented initiatives that, among other things, strengthened science education, increased interdisciplinary scholarship and bolstered diversity.

"Stanford values interdisciplinary and cross-divisional collaboration as much as Johns Hopkins does, and Lloyd's talent and enthusiasm for fostering such initiatives will serve that university very well," Johns Hopkins President Ronald Daniels wrote in an email announcing Minor's departure. "So, too, will Lloyd's limitless dedication to excellence, his unflagging focus on getting the job done, and his humane, caring approach to dealing with the crises and personal concerns that inevitably arise in a large, complex organization."

In contemplating the new job, Minor said he focused on the current health-care environment and the role that institutions like Stanford will play in seeking solutions. "I'd like to see academic medical centers transform into academic health centers — and that's not just a difference in terms," he said. "Right now, academic medical centers drive the advances that lead to improvements in the treatment of disease, and those are incredibly important. But now we have a truly unique opportunity to drive prevention and pre-emption in new ways, and academic centers have not really explored this as thoroughly as it could be."

While expressing pride in his accomplishments as provost, Minor added that he won't be trying to turn Stanford into a version of Hopkins. "I am attracted to Stanford for its own unique set of assets. It is those assets that will enable us to walk away from the status quo and pursue new approaches to health," he said.

And Minor said he is heartened that the ambitious fundraising campaigns under way at the medical center are aimed at transforming health care, locally and globally. "As dean, I am committed to working with university and hospital leaders to share our vision for how philanthropic individuals, corporations and foundations can help us achieve our vision for the future," he said. He added that the nation's health-care reform law can also be a catalyst for Stanford and other academic medical centers to focus more intently on reducing the costs of delivering care while also finding better methods for dealing with societal issues, such as nutrition, that directly affect personal health.

Dean Philip Pizzo, MD, who has led the medical school for the past 12 years, noted that "despite the many challenges facing academic medical centers, the future for Stanford medicine is exceptionally bright and made even more so by the appointment of Dr. Minor as the next dean. I am sure that he will work in a thoughtful and insightful manner with faculty, students, staff and the leaders across the medical center and university to guide the future of Stanford medicine to even greater heights and accomplishments."

leadership values

In describing his leadership style, Minor cites three key values:

"First and foremost is integrity. Integrity to me means always being truthful and leading in a way that people trust me. And my expectation of those with whom I'll be working is that I can trust them. Integrity also means transparency and openness and a desire to engage in debate and dialogue.

"The second value is diversity, and I know this is a core value at Stanford. Institutions of higher education are the most powerful forces for socioeconomic mobility in our society. We have a fundamental responsibility to look for opportunities to promote diversity in our faculty, students and staff.

"The third value is collaboration. That's something that already is well-represented in the DNA at Stanford, with organizations like Bio-X and the five Institutes of Medicine. And yet, one of the roles of leadership is to find 'trapped value' and look for opportunities to promote collaboration and scholarship at the intersections of disciplines."

Minor speaks often about unearthing "trapped value" — ideas and aspirations that have been stymied in some way — and finding ways to untrap them. "Leadership is not so much about finding the answers and solutions; it's about asking the right questions and making sure that the right people are in the room discussing those questions in an open dialogue. It's this dialogue that will lead to the right answers and solutions," he said.

Exploring different ideas is nothing new for Minor. He was born in 1957 in Little Rock, Ark. — the same year that President Eisenhower sent troops to the community to enforce the Supreme Court decision ruling against school segregation. Minor said disparities in educational opportunities became evident when he was bussed to a previously all-black junior high school. The experience prompted him to make diversity a key pillar of his leadership philosophy. For instance, he noted that when he became the chair of otolaryngology at Hopkins, there had never been a woman who achieved a rank beyond assistant professor. During his chairmanship, the number of women clinicians and basic scientists in the 36-person department grew from three to nine, and three had been promoted to associate professors by the time he became provost.

It was while he was in high school that his interest in understanding how things work drew him into the world of science, particularly fields that have a direct connection to people's lives. As an undergraduate at Brown University studying biology, Minor took a bioengineering class that used the vestibular system, which helps us sense motion and maintain balance, to show how mathematical models of physiological systems can guide research. While pursuing his medical degree at Brown, he decided the field of otolaryngology was a perfect fit for his interests. He said the same interest in how things work has driven his interest in leadership.

He joined the faculty at Hopkins in 1993, and in 2003 became chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and otolaryngologist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Through both his research and clinical work on the diseases of the inner ear, Minor discovered a disorder called superior canal dehiscence syndrome, which is characterized by sound- or pressure-induced dizziness. He found that the debilitating problem was caused by an opening in a bone of an inner-ear balance canal, and developed a surgical procedure to correct it.

"It's widely acknowledged that Dr. Minor's work changed the field," said Robert Jackler, MD, professor and chair of otolaryngology at Stanford, who noted that Minor has collaborated with bioengineers and neuroscientists throughout his career. "His characterization of this new disease process, and development of its microsurgical repair, has helped many thousands of patients who suffered from this disorder."

In 2010, Minor received the gold medal from the Prosper Ménière Society for his work in refining a treatment for Ménière's disease, an inner-ear disorder that causes intense dizziness and a ringing in the ears.

While his Hopkins research lab continues to operate under the supervision of other colleagues, Minor said he stayed current with the lab's progress during his tenure as provost and continued to see a few longtime patients.

As he becomes dean at Stanford, he said he hopes to have some involvement in clinical and research activities, but that his focus will be on his administrative responsibilities. "To be effective in this new role, I want to make sure there is some anchoring to my roots, but my primary focus will be as dean of the school."

For Minor — a trim man who said he's glad the Bay Area climate will make it easier for him to exercise and ride his bicycle year-round — the fall will mark yet another transition. He and his wife will become "empty nesters" as their 18-year-old son, Sam, follows in their footsteps by enrolling at Brown. Their 21-year-old daughter, Emily, will begin her senior year at Harvard in social studies, with an interest in the socioeconomic implications of health-care delivery.

Keamy will remain in Baltimore for the next few months, wrapping up her medical practice there and making decisions about the path she wants to pursue in the Bay Area.

For Minor, the fall will be an immersion course in his new job, but he'll also have to make time to get their new home ready for the arrival of his wife and their two Portuguese water dogs — 5-year-old Phoebe and 7-month-old Watson. (Watson's mom is a littermate of Bo, the Obama's dog. "It's quite a lineage," Minor said.)

"It's a lot of change for all of us, but it's an adventure," he said.

 


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