COLUMBUS, Ohio – The position of chancellor for health affairs at The Ohio State University will be held by a nationally renowned executive with an unparalleled combination of expertise in both academic medical center leadership and Fortune 50 company business development.
President Michael V. Drake announced today that Dr. Harold L. Paz, who for 20 years led major medical programs at two large public universities through unprecedented growth, will be the first to serve in the position of executive vice president and chancellor for health affairs at Ohio State, pending Board of Trustees approval. He will join the university this spring.
Paz is recognized as a visionary leader who advocates a comprehensive model to address health and wellness of individuals and communities in a rapidly evolving society.
Paz is a former leader of the health care enterprise at Penn State University, where he served as CEO of the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, senior vice president for health affairs, dean of the College of Medicine and president/CEO of the Penn State Hershey Health System from 2006 to 2014.
He left Penn State to join Aetna, a managed health care company based in Hartford, Connecticut, as executive vice president and chief medical officer, providing clinical leadership for the company’s domestic and global businesses. Since 2015, he has also been a professor adjunct of internal medicine at Yale University School of Medicine. He remains clinically active, volunteering as a pulmonary physician at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in West Haven, Connecticut.
Paz said the time is right to return to academic medicine, and specifically Ohio State, which he described as a university “poised to be at the cutting edge of addressing dramatic changes in health care delivery and health professions education.”
“Effective delivery of health care in America must include nontraditional settings to meet people’s needs and take into account the range of determinants of health. Behavioral, social, environmental, financial and genetic factors all influence every person’s health status,” he said.
“A comprehensive flagship university like Ohio State can marshal all of its resources and intellectual prowess in fields as diverse as the health sciences, economics, social work, agricultural extension and even climate science to identify solutions. Ohio State is at the forefront of defining the future and educating the next generation of health care professionals for a very different world.”
Drake said Paz stood out among chancellor candidates in the university’s national search because of his track record as a proven leader in academic medicine, and his clear vision for Ohio State — enhanced significantly by his private-sector navigation of consumer-driven personalized health care.
“Throughout the search process, we were determined to find the exact right fit, not just for the job requirements, but for Ohio State,” Drake said.
“We are fully committed to the foundation of evidence-based academic medicine, rigorous biomedical research and interprofessional education in all of the health sciences. Dr. Paz embodies those priorities. He also brings to the position an openness to new ways to make bold advances. That portfolio is a perfect fit for a medical enterprise that employs top talent and is seeing historic highs in research funding and productivity, innovative medical training, and patient-care quality and demand.”
“The hard work of the staff and leadership that got us from where we were to where we are has been significant. Now the aspiration is to accelerate and build on that sound foundation,” said Leslie H. Wexner, chair of the Wexner Medical Center Board, as he introduced Paz at the board meeting today.
“This is a momentous day for Ohio State and its medical center.”
Paz applied his personalized health focus at Aetna, emerging as an innovative tactician in the fight against opioid abuse by analyzing member physician data to identify so-called “super-prescribers” of narcotic painkillers. The company provided a pain medication prescription checklist to these member doctors and advised them to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines when prescribing opioids for chronic pain. He described the Aetna program in the 2018 PBS documentary “Understanding the Opioid Epidemic
At Ohio State, Paz will manage the $3.7 billion Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center enterprise, including all seven hospitals in the health system. He will also oversee the university’s seven health-sciences colleges in partnership with the provost and more than 20 research institutes. Academic health care is one of five key focus areas outlined in the Time and Change Strategic Plan
, and Paz will be responsible for ensuring that Ohio State continues its ascent as a leading academic health center. His base salary will be $1.45 million.
Paz will arrive at a time of dramatic growth. Ohio State is at various stages of planning and design for a Wexner Medical Center inpatient hospital
, an interdisciplinary health sciences center and a west campus ambulatory center that will include central Ohio’s first proton therapy treatment facility
in partnership with Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Additionally, ambulatory locations are being planned in northeast Columbus, Powell and Dublin. And the College of Medicine is in the midst of an ambitious plan to hire 500 faculty
“Ohio State is on an extraordinary trajectory serving the communities of Ohio as a result of its exceptional leadership, faculty, clinicians and employees,” Paz said. “It is truly an honor to join the team of an outstanding institution that has enormous impact.”
While at Penn State, Paz oversaw unprecedented growth in the medical center’s operating budget and construction of eight new buildings and development of a large regional health system, while forging relationships with state government that yielded significant increases in capital support. During Paz’s tenure, Penn State also established an institute funded by a National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Science Award – the same NIH program that has funded Ohio State’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science since 2008.
Prior to his tenure at Penn State, Paz served as dean of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Group from 1995 to 2006. (Robert Wood Johnson formally integrated into Rutgers University in 2013.) Under Paz’s leadership, NIH funding increased by more than 88 percent, and the endowment increased by over 600 percent.
Nationally, Paz has served as a board member and chair of the Association of Academic Health Centers (AAHC) and of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) Council of Deans.
Paz is board certified in internal medicine and pulmonary medicine. He completed his internal medicine residency at Northwestern University and a postdoctoral fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine and environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Early in his career, he held faculty and administrative appointments at Hahnemann University School of Medicine (now Drexel University College of Medicine) in Philadelphia. He earned a bachelor’s in biology and psychology and his medical degree from the University of Rochester, and a master’s in life science engineering from Tufts University.