Answer Man: Who's next in line to lead Mayo?


Who is in the running for the Mayo CEO position? — Nancy

I love a reader who gets right to the point, Nancy, so I’ll deal with the most obvious and important element of this story first: I am not in the running, and if elected, I will not serve. Sorry, folks.

But there are plenty of other worthy candidates out there to replace retiring CEO Dr. John Noseworthy, even if none of them is as splendid a choice as I would have been. I contacted Mayo communications maestro Karl Oestreich, and while he didn’t give me a list of the names of the candidates being mulled by the illuminati, he did share with me some of Mayo’s ground rules for CEO succession.

Among them: The candidate must be a physician; appointees typically serve eight to 10 years; and Mayo leadership, led by Noseworthy, has endeavored to develop a "deep bench" of potential candidates for just this moment.

"Mayo has a long-standing culture of an insider will become the next CEO," Richard Davis, a member of Mayo’s Board of Trustees, told the Star Tribune last month. "It’s a very thoughtful process, which we’re engaging in right now."


A search committee is being formed by Samuel Di Piazza, chairman of Mayo Clinic’s Board of Trustees, and all Mayo staff are being asked to give their views on the future CEO’s role and potential candidates. The goal is to appoint a new president and CEO by fall, allowing time for a solid transition before Noseworthy rides off into the sunset.

So, as to that "deep bench" — who’s on it? These three names for sure.

Dr. Wyatt Decker , an emergency medical physician, is CEO of Mayo’s Scottsdale, Ariz., campus and a vice president and trustee for Mayo Clinic overall. He has a long history with Mayo, starting with Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, where he got his M.D. in 1990. He served a residency here in the early ’90s. And, interestingly, he’s the only one of these three who has his MBA, from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Dr. Gianrico Farrugia , a gastroenterologist, made a news splash this year when he was tapped to stand in for Noseworthy at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He heads Mayo’s Jacksonville, Fla., campus, and, similar to Decker, has an association with Mayo that goes back to the early ’90s, when he had an internship and residency in the Med City.

Dr. Bobbi Gostout , a gynecologist and chairwoman of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Rochester, goes back with Mayo the furthest: She got her M.D. here in 1986, had two residencies and two research fellowships here through the ’80s and ’90s. Interestingly, Mayo has never had a female CEO. Could now be the right time?

Are there other names I’m missing? Sure, and if you’ve got ’em, send me a note and your rationale. My name may be Answer Man, not Speculation Man, but this is a game we can play until fall, when white smoke finally puffs from the top of the Plummer Building .

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