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Lorris Betz Earns Alumni Citation Award

Lorris Betz, MD '75, PhD, is very likely the only University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health alumnus who has been a dean of two medical schools.


As if that weren't enough, he's the only alum to have served as president of an American university.


Incidentally, he also chairs the Council of Deans at the Association of American Medical Colleges.


Lorris BetzBetz is a distinguished researcher with broad interests in the neurosciences as well.


The Wisconsin Medical Alumni Association recently gave him its top recognition - the Alumni Citation Award, which honors an alumnus who has achieved distinction in medicine through excellence in the practice of medicine, academic activities or research accomplishments.


"It's clear that Dr. Betz has been very highly and widely respected to have been appointed to all these top leadership positions," says Philip Farrell, MD, PhD, who interacted with Betz during the 10 years Farrell was dean of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. "He's also a top-notch neuroscientist."


Betz attributes some of his success to the mentors he's had.


"I was fortunate to have a series of mentors who helped guide me through critical phases of my career," he says.


After earning his medical degree at the School of Medicine and Public Health, Betz got a doctoral degree in biochemistry and physiology at UW-Madison. He then completed his pediatric residency and a research fellowship in pediatric neurology at the University of California, San Francisco.


Betz spent the first 20 years of his career at the University of Michigan Medical School, with faculty appointments in the departments of pediatrics and communicable diseases, neurology and surgery.


His early academic and administrative interests focused on research. He was the director of the Crosby Neurosurgical Research Laboratories and then associate chair for research as well as director of the Office of Research Programs in the pediatrics and communicable diseases department.


Betz maintained his own active research program, concentrating on the blood-brain barrier and studying mechanisms of brain injury and edema formation in stroke and intracerebral hemorrhage, central control of blood pressure and mechanisms of cerebrospinal fluid production.


His administrative career at Michigan began in 1985. He served as associate dean for faculty affairs at the medical school and then executive associate dean. In 1996, he was appointed interim dean.


After serving for more than two years as interim dean, Betz returned to the faculty. Shortly after, he was recruited to the School of Medicine at the University of Utah to be senior vice president for health sciences and dean, the position he currently holds.


He is responsible for all campus health-related organizations: University Hospital, the Huntsman Cancer Institute and the colleges of medicine, health, nursing and pharmacy.


In 2004, Betz served as interim president of the University of Utah for a year.


Recently described in a Salt Lake City newspaper as "a major heavyweight on the University of Utah campus for the last 11 years," Betz has overseen major growth in the university's healthcare system, with its budget jumping from $830 million in 1999 to $1.9 billion in the last fiscal year.


Betz has announced that he will step down once his successor has been identified, probably in about a year. He plans to return to his native Midwest. 


By Dian Land

This story appears in the summer 2010 issue of Quarterly.

Date Published: 08/19/2010

News tag(s):  quarterlyalumniqarchivedprofiles

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Lorris Betz Earns Alumni Citation Award

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