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History has a tendency to repeat itself -- and this time, it's in the form of a search for a Health System chief executive officer and Medical School dean. Yesterday, the University charged a search committee to find a replacement for Peter Traber, who stepped down from the post in July just months after his appointment. Psychiatry Department Chairman Dwight Evans will head the 16-member committee, which includes several top Penn administrators. "We plan for an active, aggressive and successful search," Evans said in a statement. "The UPHS and School of Medicine is deserving of, and we are committed to identifying, the best individual in the country for this position." Penn administrators have repeatedly said that they are committed to finding one person to run both the Health System and the Medical School. According to University spokeswoman Phyllis Holtzman, the committee has not yet met and no timeline has been set for the search. Though executive searches typically take three to six months, many recent Penn academic searches have endured for over a year -- and all resulted in the appointment of an internal candidate. "The University wants to find someone for the position as soon as possible, but it's really important to do this well," Holtzman said. Traber's tenure as head of the financially-strapped Penn Health System was short-lived. He was appointed interim CEO and Medical School dean in February, after University President Judith Rodin fired longtime CEO William Kelley. Rodin named him permanent CEO just weeks later, but kept the interim dean title because of internal University regulations requiring a consultative search process for academic appointments. Then in July, he suddenly stepped down to accept a high-paying research job at a pharmaceutical company. Executive Vice President John Fry, Engineering School Dean Eduardo Glandt and former Wharton dean Thomas Gerrity will join Evans on the search committee. "It's really a function of the position, being a combined position," Holtzman said of the high-ranking individuals tapped to serve on the committee. "It's really necessary to bring together some really prestigious faculty, along with some University officers, and conduct a search from both of those sides," she added. Robert Martin, who served both Kelley and Traber as chief operating officer, is running the Health System on an interim basis. Arthur Asbury, Traber's deputy Medical School dean, holds the academic post for now. Neither Evans nor Glandt could say if there was a list of potential candidates at this time. "Not surprisingly, we will be looking for somebody of great vision who has both the respect of the Medical faculty and the respect of the campus," Glandt said. "When you see the person, you know it's the person," he said. "Once you have it, you know it's right. Respect of the faculty is the ultimate metric." In the past, Penn has worked with an executive search firm to help find someone for top posts, and will likely do so again. "The expectation is that we probably will, but a decision hasn't been made yet," Holtzman said. Though Traber was appointed as permanent CEO weeks after the formation of a search committee, it was 15 months before Wharton Dean Patrick Harker or Law School Dean Michael Fitts were named. And Provost Robert Barchi took the helm after an exhaustive 13-month search. All three were internal candidates.

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