Robert R. Rich, M.D., senior vice president and dean of the School of Medicine at UAB since 2004, has announced that he will step down once a search for his successor is completed next year.
"I am quite proud of all our faculty, staff and students have accomplished these past five years," Rich said. "Because of our progress together, the school is well-positioned for new leadership to take us to the next level. This is the ideal time to plan an orderly transition for the coming academic year."
UAB President Carol Garrison said that during his tenure, Rich has led successful searches for nine department chairs, "all highly sought-after academic leaders," and has "infused the school's leadership with diversity."
"Bob Rich has given outstanding service to the school by implementing some very important initiatives, such as the recruitment of outstanding department chairs and the successful execution of a strategic plan for research," Garrison said. "We are so grateful for his leadership, and that he is staying on until a search can be concluded."
The development of a research strategic plan in 2006 by Rich and his team led to a $25 million annual increase in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Between 2008 and 2009, NIH funding to the school outpaced the average increase to all other medical schools by 6 percent.
Among his key accomplishments, Rich chaired the successful search to recruit a new CEO for the UAB Health System, engineered the IMPACT program that secured funding to recruit and retain top medical faculty at UAB and oversaw the school's successful reaccreditation in 2006 for eight years. He also led a complete overhaul of the school's curriculum.
Rich, 68, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Immunologists, the association's highest honor, recognizing a career of significant professional achievement, scientific contributions and service.
He was editor-in-chief of The Journal of Immunology, as well as the comprehensive textbook Clinical Immunology: Principles and Practice, and has served on many prestigious academic journals. He co-chaired the Panel on Conflicts of Interest in Research of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Association of American Universities.
Currently, Rich is on the executive committee of the boards of directors of the UAB Health System, University of Alabama Health Services Foundation and Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia. He also is a member of the Advisory Panel on Research of the AAMC.