LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the UMMC's School of Medicine discusses the additional coronavirus testing sites in Clarksdale and Olive Branch during a press conference at UMMC, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Credit: Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For America

Dr. LouAnn Woodward will continue to lead the University of Mississippi Medical Center, one of the state’s largest employers and its only academic health science center, for another four years. 

Trustees on the Institutions of Higher Learning board, which governs all universities and colleges in Mississippi, unanimously approved the Chancellor of the University of Mississippi’s request to give Woodward another four-year contract in executive session at the board’s June meeting.

“Under Dr. LouAnn Woodward’s tremendous leadership, the University of Mississippi Medical Center plays a vital and growing role in serving the health care needs for all Mississippians,” said Chancellor Glenn Boyce in an emailed statement. “I’m deeply grateful for her guidance, commitment and talent, and how she continues to empower her home state and shape UMMC for an even brighter future.”

The new four-year contract began July 1 and will be in place until June 30, 2027, confirmed Jacob Batte, the director of news and media relations for the University of Mississippi. 

Batte could not answer why Woodward requested another four-year contract renewal while her previous contract, which began in 2021, was still in place. Marc Rolph, UMMC’s executive director of communications and marketing, also declined to answer.

“I am grateful to Chancellor Glenn Boyce and the IHL Board for their leadership and support,” said Woodward in an emailed statement. “I’m excited about the future of the state’s only academic medical center, and I’m honored to lead it for another four years, advancing our tri-part mission of education, research and patient care.”

Woodward, whose official title is UMMC’s vice chancellor of health affairs and the dean of the school of medicine, became the first woman to lead the medical center and school when she was appointed in 2015. 

She was trained as an emergency room physician at UMMC after graduating from Mississippi State University. Woodward is also a tenured professor in the academic center’s Department of Emergency Medicine, according to UMMC’s website. 

Woodward has led the health system, which includes seven health science schools and the state’s only Level 1 trauma center, through the COVID-19 pandemic, changes in university leadership and a major dispute with the state’s largest private insurer, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi. 

In the coming years, she’ll oversee the creation of a state-accredited burn center. 

“The University of Mississippi Medical Center is an essential part of the health care landscape of our state, and the work done here makes a tangible difference for all Mississippians,” Woodward continued in the statement. “Each day, I am inspired by our dedicated and compassionate faculty, staff and students, who pour their hearts and souls into their work and learning, all with the purpose and vision of a healthier Mississippi.”

Batte would not say how much Woodward would be paid in the new contract, citing state law that prohibits the disclosure of certain public hospital records. 

Her annual salary was reportedly $700,400 in 2016

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Devna Bose, a Neshoba County native, covers community health. She is a 2019 graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she studied print journalism and was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. Before joining Mississippi Today, Devna reported on education at Chalkbeat Newark and at the Post and Courier’s Education Lab, and on race and social justice at the Charlotte Observer. Her work has appeared in the Hechinger Report, the Star-Ledger and the Associated Press, and she has appeared on WNYC to discuss her reporting. Devna has been awarded for her coverage of K-12 education in the Carolinas.