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Pick of search firm launches hunt for new Roswell Park president and CEO

Roswell Park Cancer Institute has picked the Korn Ferry executive search firm to help it find a new president and CEO and expects to name the members of its search committee later this week.

Those are the first tangible steps taken in the search to replace Dr. Donald L. Trump, who is stepping down at the end of the year. Officials expect the search to take six to 12 months, and they say they are seeking a new CEO who is well-versed in health care economics.

“It’s just changing too fast. And the rules change too fast. And how we get paid changes too fast. All of that. And so we need more expertise in that area. I think we’re focusing more on that side in this recruitment than we might have done seven or 10 years ago,” Michael L. Joseph, chairman of Roswell Park’s board of directors, said Monday in a meeting with The Buffalo News editorial board.

Trump announced in July he would retire after seven years in the top job at the cancer center.

A search firm committee met with three firms before selecting Korn Ferry, which Joseph said has a reputation for conducting hospital executive searches and has led other searches at Roswell Park and other area institutions.

Roswell Park also has drafted a broad job description for the CEO post that members hope will help Korn Ferry find the right candidates for the position, and is set to name members of the search committee.

Once a new CEO is brought in, Candace Johnson, now Roswell Park’s deputy director, will oversee clinical care and scientific research while reporting directly to the board with the title of cancer center director. Johnson said she is not a candidate for the CEO job. “I can do more where I am,” she said.

Korn Ferry will reach out to hospital employees and to the wider community to seek input on the search. But Roswell Park has not yet decided whether the search will be conducted in public, with the airing of finalists’ names and an opportunity for vetting by cancer center stakeholders, or in private.

Joseph said his inclination was to hold an open search, but officials from the three search firms advised it will be easier to persuade top candidates to consider the opening if they are assured of confidentiality.

An interim CEO will take over Jan. 1, but Joseph said Monday he isn’t ready to announce who that will be.

Roswell Park will pay Korn Ferry a fee of 30 percent to 35 percent of the new CEO’s salary, a rate that hospital officials said is standard for the industry, with the fee capped at $250,000.

Also Monday:

• Johnson said an advanced molecular diagnostic laboratory test that promises personalized treatment for cancer patients based on an analysis of their genes is expected to be available as soon as this week.

The state Health Department last month approved the test, known as OmniSeq Target, which was developed by scientists in Roswell Park’s Center for Personalized Medicine.

• A report commissioned by Roswell Park will show that the cancer center has an $840 million annual statewide economic impact. The statement still is in draft stage but will be completed soon, said Lisa Damiani, vice president for external affairs.

• The cancer center is seeking renewal of its Magnet designation through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The Magnet program recognizes hospitals that follow best practices in nursing services and promote professional development for nurses.

Roswell Park’s initial designation four years ago followed a lengthy review process, and it is the only Magnet hospital in the area, said Maureen Kelly, vice president for patient care services and chief nursing officer.