- Associated Press - Monday, June 2, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The head of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Dr. James Keeton, said Monday that he will retire as of June 30, 2015.

Keeton, 74, is a pediatric urologist and has worked at UMMC since 2002. He has been vice chancellor of health affairs and dean of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine since July 2009, and his salary in the job is $588,835.

Ole Miss said it would launch a national search to replace Keeton, with a goal of producing two or three finalists. University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones would make the choice, with approval by the state College Board.

UMMC has more than 2,900 students. With hospitals in Jackson, Lexington and Grenada, it has more than 9,600 employees. It has $1.6 billion annual budget, with about 11 percent of that, or $180.7 million, coming from the state.

“This is a bittersweet decision for me,” Keeton, a Columbus native, said in a news release Monday. “Every day I’ve worked at the medical center since 2002 has been a privilege. To be able to serve my alma mater in this way has been pretty special. I’ve had opportunities to work with people - inside and outside UMMC - that would never have come my way but for this job.”

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