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Dr. Walker to step down as radiology chair

Craig Walker, MD

Craig Walker, MD

Craig Walker, MD, has announced that he will be stepping down from his role as chair of the UNMC Department of Radiology, effective Jan. 1.

Dr. Walker has spent more than two decades as the department chair, overseeing a rise in exams from approximately 100,000 annually when he began to nearly 450,000 currently. He also oversaw the integration of the radiology departments at Nebraska Medicine and Clarkson early in his tenure, growing the department to close to 55 diagnostic radiologists.

“I am really proud of the people in this department,” Dr. Walker said. “We have great clinicians, great educators and superb residents and students.

“Leading the department has been one of my greatest professional privileges,” he said, crediting the help and support of his colleagues for the department’s growth and success. “Change can be uncomfortable but not necessarily negative. It’s time for me to step away, but someone else will come in with new energy and enthusiasm, with new ideas and opportunities for continued growth within the department.”

Matthew DeVries, MD

UNMC College of Medicine Dean Bradley Britigan, MD, has announced that Matthew DeVries, MD, will lead the department on an interim basis while a search is conducted for Dr. Walker’s successor. Dr. Walker will retain the Howard B. Hunt Centennial Chair for the present.

“Dr. DeVries is a strong leader, and I am confident in his ability to maintain the momentum that Dr. Walker and the department have established,” Dr. Britigan said in a message to the college.

Dr. Walker also had kind words for his colleague.

“Matt is a spectacular radiologist and very gifted educator,” he said, pointing to several teaching awards Dr. DeVries has received from UNMC medical students.

Dr. Walker said he hopes to stay on faculty in the department, shifting his focus from administration to clinical work and resident education, things he said he particularly enjoys.

He also thanked James Armitage, MD, who hired him for the chair position.

“He took a big chance,” Dr. Walker said. “I was a pretty young faculty member at that point, only 10 years on faculty and seven running the residency training program. I still have a lot of appreciation for that opportunity.”

It’s one he made the most of, Dr. Britigan said.

“Dr. Walker leaves behind a strong legacy of growth and success in the department,” he said. “We are sorry to lose him in this role, but I am sure his dedication and leadership will remain impactful as he shifts focus to concentrate more of his time on clinical and educational work.”

Dr. DeVries, who said he first met Dr. Walker when Dr. DeVries was a UNMC medical student, said the outgoing chair leaves big shoes to fill.

“He’s led the expansion of our department across the enterprise, not only on site at the med center, but at Bellevue Medical Center and Village Pointe. Also, in addition to his leadership responsibilities, he was committed to his clinical and educational efforts, as well. He’s absolutely remarkable.

“He could balance the needs and requests in the department throughout the years, and he did it with ease and grace.”

Dr. DeVries, who described himself as a “product of the University of Nebraska system” from undergraduate school onward, said it was hard to imagine the radiology department without Dr. Walker leading it. “This department is a great place,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine a more supportive, engaged group of smart and talented individuals. To be able to step into this interim role, to help keep things moving forward, is a tremendous honor. I just hope to be a good steward and do right by the department.”