February 11, 2019 – After an extensive global search effort, executive search firm Diversified Search has recruited IBM Watson Health veteran Whitney Witt as the inaugural dean of Lehigh University’s new College of Health. Zack Reynolds, a managing director in Diversified’s healthcare services practice, led the assignment.
“We simply could have not asked for a finer individual to lead this new college than Whitney Witt,” said LeJohn Simon, president of Lehigh. “She is a brilliant academic with a keen understanding of the many dynamics shaping and reshaping the world of healthcare, and she has an entrepreneurial mindset that will undoubtedly serve her well here at Lehigh. We knew we needed a special kind of leader for this role, and we’ve found precisely that in Whitney.”
“Throughout this search John and I were consistently impressed with the many accomplished candidates we met with,” said Pat Farrell, provost. “But even amid this really special group, Whitney stood out. She has the vision, drive and knowledge to take on this challenge, and we are certain her leadership will play a substantial role in making this college an important contributor to the world of health and health care for years to come.”
A widely respected leader in public health, Ms. Witt brings 25 years of experience in both academia and industry to her new role. She currently serves as director for the Center for Maternal and Child Health Research at IBM Watson Health, the division of IBM that leverages advanced technology to help improve health outcomes and systems for hospitals and patients, as well as providers, insurers and researchers. In this role, Ms. Witt leads a diverse team of academics and researchers—with interests including health economics, epidemiology and biostatistics, among others—that works to find creative solutions to a variety of health problems. She has for the past four years also held an adjunct faculty appointment at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Previously, she held faculty positions at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the Northwestern University School of Medicine.
In her role with Lehigh University, Ms. Witt will oversee the continued development and eventual launch of the College of Health. The college is both a critical element of Lehigh’s Path to Prominence strategic plan and a core funding initiative for GO: the Campaign for Lehigh. Upon her arrival on campus and in the months to come, Ms. Witt will lead the efforts to recruit top faculty, procure industry partnerships, develop curriculum and prepare for the formal opening of the college in the fall of 2020.
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“Ms. Witt’s diverse background — which includes work in academia, private industry and government — makes her an ideal pick for a college that aims to examine the many challenges facing the world of healthcare from numerous perspectives,” said Stephen Klasko, president of Thomas Jefferson University and a member of the Lehigh board of trustees. “Healthcare in the U.S. is going through a once-in-a-lifetime change that will need leaders like Whitney Witt who can leverage the amazing resources at Lehigh University in engineering, business, data analytics and social sciences. The new College of Health will be a driver for innovation and will help create the next generation of emerging health professionals.”
“I know everyone in the Lehigh community will join me in warmly welcoming Whitney Witt to our great university,” said Kevin Clayton, Lehigh board chair. “The establishment of the College of Health is a landmark moment in Lehigh history, and I know that in Whitney Witt we have a leader who will be able to harness our many historic strengths to build a college that we can all be proud of.”
Seasoned Search Consultants
Diversified Search’s healthcare practice works with clients to find leaders capable of transforming the healthcare industry to ensure access to affordable, high-quality care while sustaining and improving organizational performance and efficiency. The firm’s team of industry experts, search consultants and researchers bring significant cumulative experience to uncover candidates with varied perspectives and skills who can contribute in unique and impactful ways.
Mr. Reynolds has nearly 20 years of executive search experience in the provider healthcare space. He has served as a generalist with a heavy emphasis on C-suite and vice president-level positions across all functional areas. He has conducted national searches in a range of environments with varying degrees of scale and complexity. Mr. Reynolds’ clients have included multi-state integrated delivery systems, large academic medical centers, schools of medicine, small rural healthcare providers, physician group and accountable care organizations.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media