Dr. Stephen "Steppe" Mette, chief executive officer of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Medical Center, is retiring, UAMS spokeswoman Leslie Taylor confirmed Friday.
Mette, who plans to leave in September, was named to the position in 2019 but has been with the academic medical center since 2015.
"I came to UAMS seven years ago because I saw an opportunity to truly have an influence in reducing health disparities, and I'm proud of the progress we have made through expansion of UAMS Health across the state," Mette said. "Covid has highlighted these disparities, and we were able to accelerate our progress due to the urgent need to provide education and care to underserved populations, setting up a foundation for continued improvement.
"We have a remarkable team at UAMS, and I hope to continue our work together on a remote basis, but it's time to return to my family in Maine."
UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson said in a Friday letter to UAMS employees that Mette has done an exemplary job serving UAMS and the people of Arkansas.
"During his tenure at UAMS, he has been a trusted advisor and a member of my senior leadership team," Patterson said. "After much thought and consideration, Steppe has decided to retire from UAMS effective Sept. 2. To say he will be greatly missed is an understatement."
A national search for Mette's successor will be conducted. Stephanie Gardner, chief strategy officer and provost, will lead the search, Patterson said.
"Steppe will work to ensure a smooth transition before September and as an advisor to me after his departure," Patterson said.
Mette's annual salary grew from $412,500 in 2015 to his current salary of $713,060.
Mette earned his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in New York and later interned and completed his residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Before coming to Arkansas and taking the role as chief clinical officer, Mette was at the Maine Medical Center in Portland where he was the chair of the department of critical care for six years and chair of critical care services for nine years. He also previously served as associate professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.
In 2016, Mette was appointed by former UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn as the interim CEO and vice chancellor for clinical programs after Roxane Townsend stepped down from the position. Richard Turnage was then hired for the position later that same year after a national search.
When Turnage moved to the role of executive associate dean for clinical affairs at the UAMS College of Medicine in 2019, Mette was named to his current post.
During his time in the leadership posts, Mette helped incorporate regional programs, led the push to expand the reach of UAMS across the state and served on Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott's covid-19 task force.
"Our clinical enterprise has made significant advances under Steppe's leadership," Patterson said. "He navigated us through the COVID-19 pandemic and developed a strong leadership team for the clinical enterprise."
Mette has been a champion for the underserved in Arkansas, making health equity an institutional strategic priority and working with others across UAMS and the state to help reduce health disparities in Arkansas, Patterson added.