A 43-year veteran of SUNY Upstate Medical University is wrapping up the second week of his new role as interim president of the teaching hospital and research institution. The psychiatrist by trade is trying to focus on the positive amid turmoil that has shaken the campus over the past year.
Dr. Mantosh Dewan says he’s humbled to serve as interim president during what he calls this time of transition. The soft-spoken SUNY distinguished professor says he took the job because he’s amassed a wealth of contacts and friends over four decades that can help him move the institution forward.
"Reassuring both the internal community as well as the external community is extremely important. We have not dropped the ball in education, in patient care, in working with the community, or doing research through these difficult times."
Former president Doctor Danielle Laraque-Arena resigned December 22 after a pair of high-profile administrative matters raised eyebrows. Her senior vice president left his post following revelations that he lied about his past. And, then there was a deal that paid a former hospital CEO more than $660,000 for a job that involved little or no actual work. The Onondaga County district attorney, the state inspector general, and state comptroller’s office are said to be investigating. Dr. Dewan says that’s all he knows so far.
"I have asked, but I have not been told what the focus is. We are happy to get any recommendations that will move us toward best practices. I'm looking for the positive outcomes of this. If there are things we can improve, we absolutely will be happy to do that."
Meanwhile, Dewan remains focused on the institution’s 10,000 employees who carry out their mission, and says the leadership transition should make no difference.
"The clearest message I can give is that nothing has changed on the ground. We can be proud of this as a community resource. It would be absolutely where I would bring my child or my family if they were in an accident or needed any care at all. We certainly provide some of the only services that you can get. So, our job is to keep that going."
Dewan says SUNY has not yet started a search for a permanent president, and is not aware of their timeline. As an interim president, he is not allowed to apply, and will return to his post as professor when his replacement is named.