Purpose: To describe the lengths of service of deans at accredited U.S. MD-granting medical schools from academic years 1959 to 2008 and to determine whether the median length of service of deans changed over time.
Method: The authors used the database of the Council of Deans of the Association of American Medical Colleges to seek data, from July 1, 1959 to June 30, 2009, on lengths of service of 842 deans and interim deans at all 125 accredited U.S. MD-granting medical schools existing in 2007. All but 8 schools verified their data, which included the date of the beginning of service, the date of the end of service, and whether the individual served in a permanent or interim capacity.
Results: Across five-year cohorts of the first-time deans and interim deans studied, the median length of service was 4.4 years. When the authors excluded individuals who were interim deans exclusively and focused the analysis on the 639 persons who were “permanent” deans, the median length of service was 6.0 years across five-year cohorts. Analysis of one-year cohorts of deans showed similar results (median = 6.1 years), although the medians for six of the seven most recent one-year cohorts ranged from 5.0 to 5.7 years.
Conclusions: Through cohort analysis, the median length of service of permanent medical school deans was longer than that found in previous studies, and it has remained relatively stable.