NEOMED Appoints Forrest Faison as Provost

ROOTSTOWN, Ohio – Northeast Ohio Medical University this week announced the appointment of C. Forrest Faison III, M.D., as interim provost, effective April 1.

Faison will serve as the chief academic officer of the university, overseeing all academic affairs and managing the financial resources to carry academic priorities forward. Reporting to the university president, he will provide leadership and strategy in collaboration with the university’s four college deans, who will report to him.

Faison served as the 38th surgeon general of the U.S. Navy until 2019. As surgeon general — CEO and chief medical officer – he was responsible for the entire Navy and Marine Corps global health care system and all medical care to the Navy, Marine Corps and eligible beneficiaries. Faison led a worldwide team of 67,000 health professionals who cared for 2.6 million patients in 128 medical centers located across the world. He oversaw an annual operating budget of $9.6 billion and a global medical research enterprise with annual research expenditures of $3 billion.

He also led a global medical education enterprise of over 140 graduate education programs, training over 1,000 physicians and over 5,000 nurses, paraprofessionals and medical technicians annually.

“Managing growth, leading interdisciplinary teams and promoting innovative approaches, that’s a single day in the work-life of Dr. Faison,” noted John T. Langell, M.D., president of NEOMED. “But it is the congeniality, collaborative style and consideration in his DNA that enable him to accelerate such positive change with everything and everyone.”

NEOMED, which now offers 14 professional and graduate degree programs, has been on a steep growth trajectory over the past few years. Along with plans to open the Bitonte College of Dentistry in the next two years, the university is considering the addition of several more allied health degree programs as well as growing its graduate medical education offerings to enhance clinical learning environments across the NEOMED Network.

“It’s a privilege to be the University’s first provost and to work with this incredible team on these and other initiatives,” Faison said. “As the University grows and continues to lead in providing the best education and preparation possible for the next generation of health care leaders, I look forward to collaborating with all.

“It’s also wonderful to be back home in Northeast Ohio.”

Faison was most recently the senior vice president for research and Innovation and chief of health strategy at Cleveland State University, where he led the university’s COVID-19 pandemic response, achieving the lowest infection rate among all U.S. urban universities with no outbreaks or deaths. He was then appointed to lead pandemic response coordination for all state public universities and colleges, the only such coordinated effort in the nation. A trusted advisor to local, state and federal authorities after leaving active service, Dr. Faison led support efforts for the Ohio Federal Mass Vaccination Center, among the largest in the nation and hailed by Federal authorities as the model for emulation.

For his leadership, Faison was awarded the Ohio Commendation Medal by the governor. He also helped successfully negotiate a $565 million partnership between CSU, the State of Ohio, the Cleveland Clinic Health System, University Hospitals Health System, MetroHealth hospitals and Case Western Reserve University to develop new technologies, disease surveillance systems, treatments and workforce development programs for future pandemic responses, a first for the state and nation. Dr. Faison’s “Pathway to Practice” program at CSU to prepare underserved minority students for medical school is a recognized best practice to help increase diversity in medical professions.

When NEOMED was established in 1973 as a single College of Medicine with one degree program it wasn’t necessary to have a person solely in the role of provost. In fact, the provost position was initially combined with the charter chief executive officer’s role. Soon thereafter, recognizing there was only one program at the time, the College decided to combine the dean and the provost positions into one. This model would continue for about 10 years until the provost position was eliminated and the College’s dean was also named president.

In 2005, a College of Pharmacy was established, and four years later, a College of Graduate Studies was added. In 2009, the role of president and dean were divided into two positions and each College would also have its own dean. In 2011, the three Colleges — Medicine, Pharmacy and Graduate Studies — collectively became part of the newly named Northeast Ohio Medical University.

Over the next eight years more programs would be added as well as the role of vice president for academic affairs, which would be assumed as a dual role held by Richard Kasmer, Pharm.D., J.D., dean of the College of Pharmacy.

Langell, who became NEOMED’s seventh president in 2019, said, “Dr. Kasmer has done a remarkable job. And while I am not sure how he did it, considering he is also dean of the College of Pharmacy, performing both jobs well would be virtually impossible now that we have increased the number of degree programs by 50%.

“With such growth, we knew we needed someone to focus solely as provost now, providing leadership for faculty and academic staff to ensure consistent high-quality standards in curriculum and programs for our students. Faison will lead that mission and set the standard for what the position should be. We are fortunate to find someone of his caliber.”

The retired vice admiral says he’s committed to the role and the university’s sustainable growth.

“I am excited to help create transformational leaders in the health professions and enhance development opportunities for the health professions workforce. I look forward to leading, supporting, advising and advocating for and with the deans, faculty, students and staff to advance academic excellence and student success on campus. I am committed to help NEOMED continue its exemplary legacy of caring and commitment to our community, our state and to all who depend on us.”

Faison earned his doctorate in medicine and surgery from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He completed residency training in pediatrics at Naval Hospital San Diego and fellowship training in neurodevelopmental pediatrics at the University of Washington. He has several publications on neurodevelopmental outcomes of premature infants as well as other publications and book chapters on the topics of the future of Wounded Warrior, use of telemedicine and health informatics in health care, and value-based care.

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