Two School of Medicine principal administrators will depart from Wayne State later this year.

Jack Sobel, dean of the medical school, and David Hefner, vice president of health affairs, will complete their contracted terms and officially step down from their posts, according to an announcement from President M. Roy Wilson. Once Sobel and Hefner leave, their positions will be merged into a single dean position.

“Merging these positions will provide the opportunity to recruit very high-quality candidates with the right background and leadership experience to make Wayne State University’s vision for the health sciences a reality,” Wilson said.

Sobel and Hefner’s terms end on July 31, according to their contracts. However, both Sobel and Hefner can depart once the university finds a replacement.

Sobel came to WSU in 1985 as a professor of internal medicine and was appointed dean by Wilson in 2015.

As dean, Sobel cut three dozen faculty members through retirement, contract non-renewals or termination due to “unproductivity,” according to The Detroit News.

Sobel worked with WSU’s Inclusion Task Force to increase African-American, Hispanic, Native American and socioeconomically disadvantaged student enrollment in the medical school, according to a 2015 South End article.

Hefner was hired in July 2015 under a limited-time contract, which originally expired Dec. 31, 2016. However, Wilson granted him an extension in 2017 and prolonged his term until 2019.

“David provided invaluable guidance and expertise in bringing stability to the School of Medicine,” Wilson’s statement said. “(Hefner) Forging a transformational partnership with Henry Ford Health system that will assure a thriving future not only for the School of Medicine but for our other Health Sciences schools as well.”

Sobel’s initial contracted yearly salary was $361,116 with an additional $340,000 yearly salary from WSU’s Physician Group. $72,398 was deducted from his combined salary as an administrative attachment — making his total annual salary $701,106.

In 2016, Sobel’s base and WSUPG salary increased by two percent, and in 2018 both of the salaries increased again by another three percent, according to his contract.

Hefner’s original 2015 contract included a $500,000 annual salary and was later given a raise upon the extension of his term. In 2018, Hefner’s salary was $505,000, according to the AAUP-AFT Local 6075 annual salary report.

WSU is now searching for a potential candidate to fill Hefner and Sobel’s spot.

Wilson said he decided to merge these positions because other universities — such as the University of Cincinnati and the University of Utah — successfully implemented a similar administrative model for their medical schools.

Michael Busuito, WSU Board of Governors member and clinical associate professor of surgery, said the next dean for the medical school needs to be someone who truly understands the culture of the medical school.

“This model of having a dean and another vice president for health affairs was not productive or constructive for WSU,” Busuito said. “We are the medical school for Detroit, and even Michigan. (WSUPG) and WSU have been known to be the group that cares for the poor, the needy and the uninsured when no one else would. We need a leader who understands our motivation, our history and our traditions.”

Slone Terranella is news editor of The South End. She can be reached at

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