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Dillon to step down as chair of Department of Surgery, Mackay named interim

Dr. Peter Dillon, the John A. and Marian T. Waldhausen Professor of Surgery, will step down as chair of the Department of Surgery to devote more time to his roles as executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Penn State Health, and vice dean for clinical affairs at Penn State College of Medicine.

Dr. Donald Mackay, who has been serving as associate chair within the department for nearly a year, has been named interim chair.

Dillon has led the department since 2006, overseeing 14 divisions that play an essential role in Penn State Health’s and Penn State College of Medicine’s clinical, research and academic missions. With him at the helm, the department has been recognized nationally as a top performer in surgical outcomes by the American College of Surgeons’ National Surgical Quality Improvement Plan (ACS NSQIP), a program designed to measure and improve the quality of surgical care. Dillon was among the surgical leaders tapped by the ACS to create a pediatric module of the NSQIP. The department’s research ranking by the National Institutes of Health also has risen significantly as faculty and staff have focused on bioengineering and device technologies.

A passionate educator and former director of the surgery residency program, he is known for thoughtfully and thoroughly teaching learners during procedures and ensuring residents had protected time to focus on education.

Dillon’s expertise in quality and safety will now extend to the development and management of physician services, clinical programs and physician leadership of clinical services lines across the health system – which now employs more than 2,400 physicians and advanced practice providers. He also plans to continue his research and scholarship interests in surgical quality outcomes, relational coordination, complexity in health care delivery and medical innovation.

Mackay joined the Division of Plastic Surgery at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in 1991 and was appointed Chief of Plastic Surgery in 1998 and the William P. Graham III Professor of Plastic Surgery in 2003.

He initially trained as a dentist before entering medical school at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He completed general and plastic surgery training in South Africa and was the chief of plastic surgery at the Johannesburg Hospital.

Mackay’s clinical focus has been in pediatric plastic surgery and cleft lip and palate. He has been on the attending staff of the Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic for 30 years and has served on the clinic’s board for the past 10 years. He was the chief medical officer for Operation Smile, a nonprofit organization that cares for children with cleft lip and palate worldwide, from 2012 to 2016.

Mackay has served as president of the Robert H. Ivy Society (Pennsylvania Plastic Surgeons), the Northeastern Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Association of Pediatric Plastic Surgeons, the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons, the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons and Chair of the Section of Plastic Surgery of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Mackay is currently president of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, the oldest and most prestigious plastic surgery specialty organization in North America.

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