Roper to Lead Medical School, UNC Health Care System

Dr. William L. Roper, dean of the School of Public Health for the past seven years, has been named the next dean of UNC’s School of Medicine. He also will be the chief executive officer of the UNC Health Care System and vice chancellor for medical affairs at the University.

Roper succeeds Dr. Jeffery Houpt, who served in the three posts since 1997. The UNC System Board of Governors ratified Roper’s appointment, which is effective March 15, during a special meeting Jan. 23.

“Bill Roper is one of America’s most distinguished health-care professionals,” Chancellor James Moeser said. “Under his leadership, our School of Public Health has established itself as one of the great public health schools, along with Johns Hopkins and Harvard.”

Roper, a pediatrician with a master’s degree in public health, became dean of UNC’s School of Public Health in 1997. He serves as a professor of pediatrics in the medical school as well as a professor of health policy and administration in the School of Public Health.

During Roper’s time at UNC, the School of Public Health consistently has been ranked as the nation’s No. 1 public health school. It is renowned for its teaching and research in areas of health care, nutrition, chronic illness, infectious diseases, family health and environmental sciences.

As CEO, dean and vice chancellor, Roper’s responsibilities will include overseeing an integrated health-care system that incorporates a top-ranked public medical school, modern hospitals for children, women and neurological and psychiatric patients, and general adult patient care. As CEO, Roper will report to UNC System President Molly Broad; as vice chancellor and dean, he will report to Moeser.

Roper’s extensive career in the health-services industry includes a 1982-83 stint as a White House Fellow, a position as special assistant to the president for health policy, director of the White House Office of Policy Development and deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy.

Roper also led the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta from 1990 to 1993. He left there to become president of the Prudential Center for Health Care Research and was named senior vice president of Prudential Healthcare the next year.

Days after the Roper appointment, UNC Health Care System announced that Eric B. Munson, president and chief executive officer of UNC Hospitals and second-in-command of the system, would step down at the request of the health system board.

Munson, who had served as executive director of UNC Health Care since 1980, will remain as a special adviser to Roper.

Gary Park, the president and CEO of Rex Healthcare in Raleigh, will take over Munson’s role. Munson will receive $768,476 for the buyout of his contract. Park will receive an annual salary of $420,000 in his new position.

UNC Health Care System accumulated $3.7 million in losses last year despite $39 million the hospitals received from the state’s General Fund. Park will assume responsibility for turning around the fortunes of this four-hospital, $600 million operation.

“The board felt that because Dr. Roper is assuming the leadership mantle of an organization as complex as UNC Health Care, it is imperative to give him the latitude he needs to successfully guide the system through this transition and into the future,” said James Hyler, chair of the system board of directors.

The system was created in 1998, merging UNC Hospitals with the clinical operations of the medical school. At that time, Munson began reporting to Houpt.

UNC Health Care officials said Munson’s stepping down was in accordance with his retirement plans and terms of his contract. Munson said in a statement released through UNC Hospitals that he was asked to step aside by the board and would do so with a sense of “melancholy and resolve.”