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Former Religion Professor Named D-H Board of Trustees Chairman

Robert Oden Jr, PhD  Chair D-H Board of Trustees

Robert Oden Jr, PhD Chair D-H Board of Trustees

Lebanon — A former Dartmouth College professor who has served as president of two elite Midwestern schools is the new chairman of Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s board of trustees.

Robert Oden stepped into the role on Jan. 1 after spending two years on the hospital system’s board.

He succeeds Wayne Granquist, who had been Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s chairman since 2007.

“This is an extraordinary time in health care,” Oden said in a statement released yesterday. “Leading health care organizations have today the opportunity not just to maintain, but also improve health care quality, while also being ever mindful of health care costs. Both of these are imperatives.”

Oden was a professor of religion at Dartmouth from 1975 to 1989, during which he received the distinguished teaching award.

In 2010, he retired after serving eight years as president of Carleton College, a liberal arts college with around 2,000 students in Minnesota.

While there, he led a $300 million capital campaign, increased the number of faculty and held student enrollment stable.

Prior to his presidency at Carleton, he served for seven years as president of Kenyon College in Ohio. He was also head of the Hotchkiss preparatory school in Connecticut from 1989 to 1995.

Oden lives in Hanover and has been a Dartmouth-Hitchcock trustee since January 2011. He otherwise has no health care experience.

“His background is primarily higher education... but being in health care is not a requirement to be on the board,” said Dartmouth-Hitchcock spokesman Rick Adams.

The leadership change comes as Dartmouth-Hitchcock launches a new partnership with Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.

The accountable care arrangement, called OneCare Vermont, is aimed at lowering costs while maintaining high standards through coordinating care for 43,000 Vermont Medicare beneficiaries. Although Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Fletcher Allen are leading the effort, nearly all the state’s hospitals and dozens of smaller physician practices are involved as well.

Since he was elected chairman by the board trustees last June, Oden has been getting up to speed on activities at Dartmouth-Hitchcock to “ensure we had a smooth transition,” Adams said.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock CEO and president James Weinstein said Oden reflected the ideals and values of the organization and had proved himself a capable leader.

“Rob is the quintessential ‘scholar and gentleman,’ who embodies the Dartmouth-Hitchcock values of respect, integrity, commitment, trust, transparency, teamwork, stewardship and community,” Weinstein said in a statement. “He is a leader and mentor, and has enhanced every community in which he’s lived and worked. I look forward to the assistance of his knowledge, experience, and insights as all of us throughout Dartmouth-Hitchcock work to create a sustainable health system.”

Chris Fleisher can be reached at 603-727-3229 or cfleisher@vnews.com.