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SUNY appoints new president for financially challenged Downstate Medical Center

Dr. Wayne Riley to begin in April

January 25, 2017 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Dr. Wayne Riley. Photo courtesy of SUNY
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The State University of New York (SUNY) board of trustees on Tuesday announced the appointment of Dr. Wayne J. Riley as president of financially troubled SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.

Riley, a native of New Orleans, is currently a clinical professor of medicine and adjunct professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Prior to that he was the president and CEO of Meharry Medical College.

Riley is also a past president and president emeritus of the American College of Physicians, and chair of the Administration of Health Services, Education and Research Section of the National Academy of Medicine. Riley sits on the board of HCA Holdings, Inc.

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According to SUNY, Riley will hold tenured faculty appointments as professor of Internal Medicine in the College of Medicine and professor of Health Policy and Management in the School of Public Health.

In a statement, SUNY board Chairman H. Carl McCall and outgoing Chancellor Nancy Zimpher cited Riley’s experience in medicine, education and healthcare management as making him ideally suited to meet the difficulties facing SUNY Downstate, which has suffered from years of mismanagement and the shifting health care playing field.

Riley said in a statement that he looked forward to build upon Downstate’s “many successes while also positioning it strategically to meet the many challenges of this unprecedented time of change in health care and health professions education.”

Riley replaces the controversial former Downstate president Dr. John “Skip” Williams, who stepped down at the conclusion of the 2015 – 2016 academic year. Williams served as the president of SUNY Downstate during its tumultuous multiyear struggle to close and sell Long Island College Hospital (LICH).

SUNY officials praised Williams in 2015, saying he had kept afloat a public university and teaching hospital in the throes of financial distress and provided leadership during its restructuring.

But critics called Williams a tool of a floundering state system which allowed both Downstate and LICH to hemorrhage millions of dollars.

Riley’s appointment is effective April 3, 2017, at an annual state salary of $500,000 and a campus foundation salary of $175,000.

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