The chairman of the board has now been named interim chief executive at Fairview Health Services, one of the state's largest networks of hospitals and clinics.

In February, board Chairman David Murphy was one of three executives named to an "Office of the CEO" with the surprise departure of Rulon Stacey after just 15 months as chief executive.

Now, Murphy will have the interim CEO title to himself, Fairview spokeswoman Cindy Fruitrail said Thursday.

Murphy is president and chief executive of Red Wing Shoe Co. Inc., a company he's led since 2001. Previously, he spent 23 years at Golden Valley-based General Mills Inc.

"The board believes with a single point of contact, it would make decisionmaking and day-to-day work more efficient," Fruitrail said, adding that a search process is underway to find a permanent CEO.

Fairview owns and operates the University of Minnesota's teaching hospitals in Minneapolis, plus five community hospitals and a large network of clinics.

Stacey left due to a combination of professional differences with the board and personal reasons, Fairview announced in early February. The former chief executive led a process of creating a strategic plan for Fairview, but the board decided he wasn't the right person to implement it.

"What's created for a plan and how they're done are just two different things," Murphy said during an interview with the Star Tribune in February.

The short tenure for the chief executive was another example of recent uncertainty at Fairview. The health system was rocked in 2012 by allegations of overly aggressive tactics by an outside bill collector — an episode that included a CEO departure.

Under the leadership of an interim chief executive in 2013, merger talks with South Dakota-based Sanford Health failed, but not before the U proposed taking over Fairview.

During the first nine months of 2014, Fairview posted operating income of $107.6 million on $2.67 billion in revenue. The results were slightly better than during the same time period in 2013, according to a Fairview financial statement.

Twitter: @chrissnowbeck