Former U of M psychiatry chief resigns from major medical post

Dr. Charles Schulz
Dr. Charles Schulz, who led the psychiatry department for 16 years, will remain on the faculty and keep his position as executive medical director, according to a University of Minnesota announcement.
Courtesy University of Minnesota

Updated: 5:41 p.m. | Posted: 5:19 p.m.

A month after stepping down as chief of the University of Minnesota's psychiatry department, Dr. Charles Schulz says he has resigned as executive medical director of behavioral health services.

Schulz said he was asked to step aside by Dr. Levi Downs, chief medical officer of University of Minnesota Physicians, after complaints by staff members who thought Schulz should not remain in that position.

Schulz has been at the center of the university's crisis surrounding human test-subject protection. Two recent reports said that under Schulz's watch, the U's psychiatry department suffered from a "culture of fear" and that some university and Fairview Health Services personnel did not trust some researchers to protect the safety of patients. He was also a figure in a recent state legislative audit of the 2004 suicide of university drug-trial patient.

Schulz said many of those concerns were new to him, and said many were exaggerated.

"I feel disappointed as I learned about the concerns about my work," he said, and regretted not being able to continue working on plans to further integrate the university medical operations and Fairview Health Services.

Fairview owns the hospital where university physicians work and train students, but the company and the U have been trying to work together more closely.

As executive medical director, Schulz helped oversee patient care, safety and medical staff in behavioral health services, according to documents supplied by the university. He directly managed the medical directors of the five specialty areas in the division.

Schulz says he has held the position for the past two years. He said he stopped working in the position about two weeks ago, and said Downs is looking for a replacement. He said he will continue to work as a researcher and university faculty member.

University spokesman Brian Lucas said Downs could not discuss Schulz's position because it would be "inappropriate" for him to talk about personnel matters.

Schulz's move is not entirely unexpected. Earlier this month, medical school Dean Brooks Jackson said university leaders have been "looking at clinical transitions" as part of plan of research reforms the university plans to carry out. He said U of M officials were also looking at who should be in the executive medical director position for the long term.

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