Los Angeles, CA — In the wake of the May 4 exit of Susan Kelly as head of Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, the school’s board of trustees has appointed a leadership team to take over the role of president at the 43-year-old medical school.

The trio will stay in place until a new university president is found in a search that will happen in what board chair Bart H. Williams, called a “measured way.”

The board appointed Dr. Keith C. Norris as head of the office of External Affairs, and his duties include working with the community, foundations and other funding sources as well as the media and outside audiences.

Norris, who is also executive vice president for research and health affairs, is a researcher of national note into the prevention and early treatment of chronic kidney disease especially as it relates to African Americans and Latinos.

He will be joined in the office of the president by Ronald Edelstein, a 31-year veteran of the university, who will continue in his role as Dean of Academic Affairs. In this position he is responsible for academic planning and implementation; academic administration (accreditation), academic business development and relationships, faculty development, the academic pipeline programs, institutional research and student administration.

Elizabeth Garcia, who has been affiliated with Drew since 2005, will continue in her role as executive vice president of operations, and her current duties will be expanded to include all internal operations on campus.

“The person who will be first among equals, for lack of a better term, is Keith Norris,” explained Williams who acknowledged that governing by consensus can work up to a point. “At some point (in a tie situation) someone has got to make a decision.”

The leadership team was put in place in deference to the outstanding role that Dr. Norris plays in bringing research dollars into the university.

” . . . As opposed to just making Keith interim president, we recognize there is a lot of day-to-day work that needs to be done,” continued Williams. “And the only way someone like Keith could ever do a full-time job as president, is if there are people we can identify to pick up some of the slack.”

According to the board chair, the three top executives are expected to be in place about a year, the time he speculates it will take to find another president.

Among the immediate challenges they and the university are facing are the loss of $5-$6 million in funding from research and gift giving; the continuing residual impact of the loss of $12 million from Los Angeles County due to the downsizing of Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital. This has and will continue to necessitate cuts, Williams said, but they are trying to keep these reductions away from student programs.

At the same time, Williams reported, the university is working to complete the Dymally School of Nursing and have the first class of students in place within a year which will generate additional revenue.

Another goal is to increase the academic offerings by expanding the College of Science and Health, and resuscitate its resident training programs.

“We are in line to start a first residency training program through psychiatry,” said Williams about one of the 17 programs lost when the hospital was downsized.

But perhaps the most challenging task for the leadership team will be to remain true to the focus of the university, noted Williams.