Loma Linda University President to Retire
From first pediatric resident to CEO, 42-year-career focused on mission
BY DELONA LANG BELL and RICHARD WEISMEYER, Loma Linda University
. Lyn Behrens, president and chief executive officer of Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center (LLUAHSC), has announced that she will retire from her leadership positions in March of 2008. Behrens, who became president of Loma Linda University in 1990, is the first woman to serve as president of this institution.
“Dr Behrens’ 17-year term as president has been the longest for any president in the institution’s history. She has given outstanding leadership for the institutions on campus,” said Lowell Cooper, Chair of the LLUAHSC Board of Trustees and a general vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which owns the institution.
Cooper said Behrens’ time in office encompassed a major re-design of the LLU governance structure and relationship of institutions. In addition, Loma Linda University and Loma Linda University Medical Center have experienced remarkable growth and made important contributions internationally, both for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and for health education and health care.
|B. Lyn Behrens [Photos: LLU]
“Dr. Behrens has been very effective in creating and leading a team of highly qualified and committed executives,” he added. “She moves to a well-earned retirement from such heavy responsibilities and does so with high admiration and appreciation from the Trustees and from the global leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
Although no replacement has been named, Behrens informed the board chair of her plans six months ago so a smooth transition in leadership could be achieved. Behrens says the time has come for her to devote more of her time to family.
Cooper says the Board of Trustees will appoint a Search Committee to identify a successor, and that they will be looking for a leader with a demonstrated track record in team-building who is a Seventh-day Adventist, committed to the mission and who understands the uniqueness of academic health care institutions.
“It is with a great deal of optimism that I complete my years of service to Loma Linda in this capacity,” Behrens stated. “I believe this institution is poised for unprecedented success in our work as educators of health professionals, scientists and scholars; in our ability to impact health care regionally, nationally and globally; and in our commitment to the mission and heritage of the organization.”
The last two decades have been ones of epic change for this academic health sciences center, which includes a health sciences university, four medical centers and more than 600 faculty physicians.
Behrens’ passion for the role of spirituality in healing has been one of the hallmarks of her leadership, and has resulted in increased emphasis in the area of spiritual life and wholeness throughout the organization. She has also cultivated an expanded vision for the organization’s global impact. Among numerous international outreach initiatives has been LLUAHSC’s assistance in the development of Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, the first hospital in mainland China to be awarded the Joint Commission International certificate for quality health care.
Faculty and staff participate in mission endeavors in about 60 different countries every year. Currently, a hospital is being upgraded in Kabul, Afghanistan, with the help of Loma Linda.
On-campus expansion has continued to flourish in recent decades. At the forefront of new developments is the building of a 150,000-square-foot Centennial Complex that will be a cutting-edge instructional center for the university’s growing student body, anticipated to swell from 4,000 to 5,000 students by 2010. The Complex, largely funded by gifts from donors and foundations, will benefit all eight of the university’s professional schools. It will feature advanced communication technology, smart classrooms, a medical simulation center, and technology to support international outreach, telemedicine and training for health care professionals in remote sites around the globe.
Other smaller capital campaigns are currently under way to enhance the International Heart Institute, Proton Treatment Center, and the Rehabilitation, Orthopaedic and Neurosciences Institute. The 10-year strategic plan includes the building of a 21st Century state-of-the-art pediatric and maternal academic health sciences campus at Loma Linda.
During Behrens’ leadership, the organization has realized a host of medical and academic milestones, including:
• Treatment of the first patient at the Proton Treatment Center
• Opening of the Behavioral Medicine Center
• Opening of the Children’s Hospital
• Implanting the first artificial heart
• Completion of Drayson Center, a fitness and wellness complex
• Opening of Coleman and Chan Shun Pavilions and the Wong Kerlee International Conference Center
• Opening of the Center for Joint Replacement
• Performing Loma Linda’s first stem-cell transplant
• Implanting the world’s smallest pacemaker into an infant
• Opening of the School of Pharmacy
• Opening of the School of Science and Technology
LLUAHSC also conducted the Adventist Health Studies, which were funded by the US National Cancer Institute. The studies provide an in-depth look at the relationship of lifestyle choices to health and longevity. They are also conducting a landmark study on the role of religion and health.
|BIG DIG: Behrens, with LLU Board Chair Lowell C. Cooper at her left, participates in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Centennial Pathway and the Centennial Complex.
For Behrens, who began her journey at LLU as the first and only pediatric resident in 1966, the last four decades have been a harbinger of what is to come. When she arrived more than four decades ago, the institution had no Children’s Hospital, no specialized care for children, and was still unable to save many children who today are now given a new lease on life.
“What has changed so dramatically since I first came to LLU is the impact of the pioneering medical research and state-of-the-art medical care that takes place here. It has been life-transforming for so many people, and it’s been an extraordinary privilege to have been a part of this organization during this time in its history,” says Behrens.
“And yet despite the remarkable changes that have taken place, one thing hasn’t changed. Our people are still relentlessly passionate about health care, about mission and about excellence. I’m humbled by their commitment to serving humanity, and grateful to have had the privilege to be a part of such an exceptional team.”
Prior to assuming her role as president and CEO, Behrens served as dean of the medical school, director of the pediatric residency program, and professor of pediatrics at Loma Linda University. She completed her medical education at Sydney University School of Medicine in Australia, her internship at Australia’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Loma Linda University Medical Center, and fellowships in allergy and immunology and pediatric pulmonary from National Jewish Hospital and Research Center/National Asthma Center and University of Colorado Health Sciences.
“Little did I imagine when I set foot on this campus as a resident more than 40 years ago that my path would lead to this office, and that I would be privileged to be a part of the remarkable growth and impact of this institution, says Behrens. “God’s blessings have exceeded my dreams, His protective hand has steadied us in times of challenge, and I believe that He will continue to bless this institution as long as we remain true to our mission. What a journey of faith it has been for me personally to see what He is able to do through willing and committed workers.”
Behrens and her husband intend to stay in the area. They have three daughters, a son, and eight grandchildren.