Dr. William A. Gay Jr., University of Utah vice president for health sciences, will resign June 30 along with President Chase N. Peterson.
Gay's resignation continues the revolving-door spin of U. administrators - particularly vice presidents of health sciences. He is the fourth person in eight years to hold the title.Peterson's successor will have the authority to appoint top administrators, and some now serving appear to want to make the new president's job easier by resigning.
That was Gay's plan from the day he was appointed to the job last August.
"When I assumed the position in the summer of 1990, I made a commitment to the university that I would remain in the position until the date of Dr. Peterson's announced resignation as president," he said Friday. "Simi
larly the university made a commitment to me that I could remain in the position until that time, and then both the university and I would re-evaluate our status."
Gay said he found it difficult to give up his 25-year tenure in clinical and academic medicine, so he elected to return to the medical school as chairman of the department of surgery.
"I think that the vice presidency is certainly a full-time job and deserves the full attention and effort of whomever is in that job. I was both unwilling and unable to make that kind of commitment at this point in time."
Gay is an internationally known cardio-thoracic surgeon and heart transplant specialist. He has brought prominence to the U. as surgical director of UTAH Cardiac, one of the most successful heart-transplant programs in the world.
Physicians involved in the program - a consortium of the U. Hospital, Veterans Administration Medical Center and LDS Hospital - have performed 380 transplants during the past six years. The one-year survival rate is greater than 90 percent and the overall survival rate is 86 percent to 87 percent.
Gay is the only physician authorized by the U. Institutional Review Board to implant the Utah-100 artificial heart, a model designed to fit better in a human chest than did the Jarvik-7, which was also pioneered at the U.
"We still have not received total approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration to implant the heart. And it's my position that we will not do (the procedure) until the FDA approves it, in spite of the fact that we have approval from our own Institutional Review Board," Gay said.
Gay came to the U. in October 1984. He was professor of surgery and chief of cardiothoracic surgery at New York Hospital/Cornell University Medical Center.
His tenure as the vice president of health sciences has been marked by both major accomplishments and controversy, the most public of which is a state attorney general's investigation of possible anti-trust violations between the state-owned University Hospital and Primary Children's Medical Center. The children's hospital is owned by Intermountain Health Care, a private, non-profit conglomerate.
In accepting his resignation, Peterson called Gay a gentleman of the old school, "gracious, dignified, wise, broad-based and firm."
Gay, a professor of surgery since 1984, is the author of a book on cardiac surgery that was published last year.