News Release

July 18, 2007

Contact: Kristina Goodnough, 860-679-3700

Peter Deckers to Step Down from Leadership of UConn Health Center

Farmington, Conn. – Peter J. Deckers, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine since 1995 and executive vice president of health affairs since 2000, has informed University of Connecticut leadership that he will step down from both positions on June 30 at the conclusion of his appointment.

“I speak for the entire University of Connecticut community in expressing deep appreciation for Dr. Deckers’ farsighted leadership at the Health Center over these past several years. I am grateful that he timed this announcement in a manner that allows for an orderly transition,” University President Philip E. Austin said in an announcement to the university community earlier today. “In order to begin the process of choosing a new executive vice president and dean, I am establishing a search committee that will be supported by the services of a national recruitment firm. The members of the search committee will be announced shortly.”

Deckers’ leadership of UConn Health Center has been marked by a transformation of the educational curriculum, by a dramatic increase in patient care provided by John Dempsey Hospital and the UConn Medical Group and by strong growth in public and private research awards to biomedical scientists and clinicians.

He joined the Health Center in 1987 and took the top administrative position on an interim basis in 1999 and then permanently in 2000. At the time, the Health Center was in a period marked by low reimbursement rates from Medicare, Medicaid and health insurers looking to rein in skyrocketing costs. Deckers was instrumental in the lobbying effort that won for the Health Center special financial assistance of $20 million from the state legislature and then helped engineer the turnaround that achieved $74 million in cost reductions and revenue enhancements, focused resources on areas of excellence, stepped up recruitment of nationally prominent physicians and researchers and brought more patients to the Health Center.

“It’s been a remarkable tenure,” said Bruce Koeppen, M.D., Ph.D., dean of academic affairs. “As dean of the School of Medicine, Peter facilitated a major transformation of the way we teach by supporting the development of a new forward-thinking curriculum that won national recognition for the Health Center.” Deckers was adamant that the Health Center’s special strength came from its combined mission of research, education and clinical care, added Koeppen. By supporting the development of research strategic plans, he pushed the institution to identify specific areas of expertise and to focus its resources on those areas of strength.

During Deckers’ tenure, the School of Dental Medicine ranked No. 1 among the country’s 55 dental schools in 2001 and again in 2003, based on national examination results. The Health Center built a new four-story building to house its New England Musculoskeletal Institute and expand research and clinical care in orthopedics, arthritis, bone biology, biomaterials and biomechanics. Musculoskeletal disease and bone biology is one of the Health Center’s signature programs — along with cancer, cardiology and public health — that grew out of a comprehensive strategic planning process. “The ultimate purpose of our signature programs is to build a stronger Health Center by closely linking areas of research excellence with areas of clinical excellence,” Deckers said in 2000 as the signature programs were developed.

His leadership yielded significant results. Between 1999 and 2005, external research award expenditures by UConn Health Center almost doubled to nearly $93 million. During roughly the same time frame (1999-2006), annual admissions to the hospital increased 42 percent to 9,826 and annual patient visits to the UConn Medical Group rose 49 percent to 507,000.

Also under his leadership, UConn Health Center was repeatedly recognized by Solucient, a leading health care information company: in 2007 as a top 100 hospital, and in both 2006 and 2005 as a top 100 performance improvement leader with outstanding senior management teams who led their organizations to achieve the fastest rate of consistent annual improvement. And, the Health Center, in collaboration with the university’s Storrs campus, became a national leader in human embryonic stem cell research by spearheading research projects that won the lion’s share (60 percent) of Connecticut’s first disbursal of $20 million out of a total of $100 million over 10 years for stem cell work.

Deckers earned his medical degree from the Boston University School of Medicine, where he received the Outstanding Physician Award. He completed his residency in general surgery and was a U.S. Public Health Service trainee in academic surgery at Boston University Medical School where he began his career and advanced to the position of professor and vice chair for surgical education. He joined the Health Center after three years as chairman of surgery at Hartford Hospital.

A high-resolution photograph of Dr. Deckers is available at:

UConn Health includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Home to Bioscience Connecticut, UConn Health pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about UConn Health is available at

Note: News professionals are invited to visit the UConn Health Today news page ( for regularly updated news and feature stories, photos and media stories. News releases are archived at UConn Health news and information is also available on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.