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Observers speculate on who may replace UHN’s Closson

TORONTO – Now that the University Health Network has announced that CEO Tom Closson (pictured at left) will step down in June, the hospital has begun a search for a replacement.

Closson is widely admired for his leadership at the UHN, one of Canada’s largest teaching hospitals and an international leader in medical research. The centre has an annual operating budget in the neighborhood of $900 million.

He has served as chief of the hospital for about five years, and has also provided leadership to improve the delivery of healthcare in Ontario through the use of new technologies. His resignation startled the healthcare community in southern Ontario. In a statement issued by the UHN, Closson announced that he was quitting to spend more time with friends and family.

A story in the Toronto Star asked several high-profile experts who the UHN might target as candidates to replace Mr. Closson.

Joseph D’Cruz, a specialist in healthcare management and a professor at the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, said there are several potential candidates inside the UHN.

He pointed to Dr. Janet Beed, the Toronto General’s chief operating officer, and Dr. Robert Bell, her counterpart at Princess Margaret.

Outside of Ontario, D’Cruz suggested Sheila Weatherill, president and CEO of the Capital Health Authority in Edmonton, as a possible candidate.

The network’s search committee will be led by incoming board chair Philip Orsino, CEO of the building products firm Masonite International Corp. “The first thing we’ll do is establish the criteria, the type of individual we are looking for. There’ll probably be several candidates from within the hospital and several in Ontario,” Orsino told the Star.

The committee, which hopes to have a new CEO in place by June, will probably be looking for somebody like Closson, said Dr. David Naylor, dean of U of T’s Faculty of Medicine.

“We’re looking for someone who has a lot of Tom’s qualities (in areas like) commitment to partnership and collaboration,” said Dr. Naylor, who is also a board member at the network. “There is ongoing pressure for more integration between institutions and communities.”

Before taking on the CEO and president’s role at the UHN, Closson had led two other large healthcare organizations – Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (as it was then known), and the regional health authority in Victoria, B.C.