The chairman of the UA’s Department of Anesthesiology stepped down from his position last week following concerns about his leadership style and claims that he acted aggressively toward subordinates.
Several employees also said they were concerned about Dr. Randal Dull’s negative opinion toward the LGBTQ community, which included a letter he wrote to a newspaper complaining about coverage of an LGBTQ center.
“Over the last few weeks, we have been made aware of growing concerns within the Department of Anesthesiology about its ability to remain unified and focused on supporting the mission,” said Dr. Michael Dake, senior vice president of UA Health Sciences, and Dr. Irving Kron, interim dean of the UA College of Medicine, in a statement. “To preserve the unity of the department and its success, and to help the department move past potential distractions from the mission, Dr. Randal Dull decided this week it was best that he step down from his duties as chair.”
UA officials declined to discuss the situation outside the released statement. Dull did not respond to an email or phone call from the Star requesting comment.
Prior to stepping down, Dull was making $589,000 a year. He will continue to serve as a tenured professor and doctor at the University of Arizona.
Dull was appointed chair of the UA department in July 2018 after seven years as a tenured professor and vice head of research at the University of Illinois–Chicago’s Department of Anesthesiology. Prior to that, Dull spent eight years at the University of Utah’s School of Medicine.
In July, the Star received a copy of a letter to the editor that Dull wrote in 2004 while working as a professor and physician at the University of Utah. The letter, which was also posted recently on social media, was sent to the Star by a former colleague of Dull’s.
Dull wrote the letter to the editor to the Park City Record in January 2004 titled “Keep the queers off the front page.” His letter was in response to a previous edition of the newspaper that featured a story about The Queer Lounge, which served as a gathering spot for the LGBTQ community during the city’s annual Sundance Film Festival.
In response to that story, Dull wrote “I am, of course, referring to the front-page article on the new homosexual hangout here in Park City to give perverts and other degenerates a place to ‘network’ during the local filth festival.” He went on to write that the “promotion of homosexuality, bisexual confusion and other degeneracy cannot be tolerated.”
Dr. Gabriel Kleinman, who worked under Dull as an anesthesiologist at the UA, said he left his job because of the way Dull treated him at work. Kleinman, who is gay, said Dull treated him with hostility. Kleinman said his sexual orientation was common knowledge to everyone in the department.
“It made me really sad, but it made me understand his behavior,” he said about the 2004 letter to the editor. “It didn’t ever make sense to me why he was so mean to me and unpleasant and distrusting, and I didn’t really understand what I had done, but this helped me to understand.”
According to Kleinman, Dull would yell at him and other colleagues “like toddlers” and was not a collaborative leader, often dismissing their concerns and talking to subordinates in a degrading fashion.
Kleinman left the UA in January following an incident where he said he was reprimanded by Dull for bringing his concerns about Dull’s leadership to another department head. Following the meeting, Kleinman said he was demoted from his positions as chief of the Critical Care Medical Division and medical director of the Neurosciences ICU at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson, the teaching hospital for the UA College of Medicine.
“He made it very clear that ‘if I looked at him wrong,’ he would fire me,” Kleinman said. “I made a concerted effort to avoid him at all costs after that.”
The Star spoke with two other UA employees who said Dull acted aggressively toward colleagues. Both employees, who did not want their names used, said they also decided to leave Banner-UMC because of Dull’s leadership.
Kleinman said he went to human resources with his concerns also, but stopped pursuing the issue following his decision to quit. The Star submitted records requests to the UA and the University of Illinois for any official complaints against Dull. The University of Illinois said it could not locate any records, and the UA has yet to respond to the request.
“At Banner Health, we value equity, diversity and inclusion, and provide the very best care to every patient, regardless of their country of origin, race, religious beliefs, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity,” said a statement released by Banner-UMC on Friday. “Everyone who walks through our doors is treated with compassion, dignity and respect. This commitment is fundamental to our organization, and we have a non-discrimination policy in place which is strictly enforced to ensure that every member of our staff upholds this commitment.”
According to UA officials, Kron will serve as the acting chairman of the anesthesiology department until an interim chair can be appointed. A national search for a new chairperson will be conducted.