UAMS chan­cel­lor hope­ful visits

Cam­den na­tive says hos­pi­tal’s top job is im­por­tant to state

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - BRANDON MUL­DER

Dr. Danny Ja­cobs will have spent sev­eral days this week meet­ing, speak­ing and hand­shak­ing his way into the fa­vor of the Univer­sity of Arkansas for Med­i­cal Sciences com­mu­nity.

As one of two fi­nal­ists for the aca­demic med­i­cal cen­ter’s chan­cel­lor po­si­tion, it was his op­por­tu­nity to make a first im­pres­sion.

On Mon­day he spent the morn­ing meet­ing with se­nior di­rec­tors, speak­ing be­fore a fac­ulty-filled au­di­to­rium, and an­swer­ing ques­tions posed by the col­lege’s as­so­ciate and as­sis­tant deans. On Tues­day, af­ter a two- hour meet­ing with the Univer­sity of Arkansas board of trustees, he took a quick flight to make his rounds at UAMS’ north­west cam­pus.

Amid his jam- packed sched­ule, Ja­cobs took note of the warmth his home state showed him. The Cam­den na­tive, who left the state at age 13 to at­tend high school in Ver­mont in 1968, found “it’s good to be back.”

Ja­cobs, 62, who now serves as the ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent, provost and dean of the School of Medicine at the Univer­sity of Texas Med­i­cal Branch in Galve­ston, felt his Cam­den roots as he vis­ited the state.

“I met a dis­tant rel­a­tive from my mother’s side of the fam­ily. There was one woman who is a nurse prac­ti­tioner from Cam­den. I ran into a guy, a lawyer now, I think. His fam­ily and mine go back,” he said. “I found some­one who grad­u­ated from Har­vard in 1974 who I hadn’t seen in 30 years. So, lots of con­nec­tions to Cam­den.”

And as UAMS and me­dia cir­cu­lated his name as one of the top prospects to re­place re­tir­ing chan­cel­lor Dr. Dan Rahn, Ja­cobs re­ceived a two-page let­ter from a Cam­den woman ex­plain­ing her con­nec­tion to his mother and fa­ther and ex­press­ing her ex­cite­ment for a “na­tive son” be­ing con­sid­ered for the po­si­tion.

“A big part of the at­trac­tion is the op­por­tu­nity to con­trib­ute in some way in my home state,” he said.

“There is con­nec­tiv­ity here that is warm­ing.”

Ja­cobs’ com­pe­ti­tion for the chan­cel­lor po­si­tion is Dr. A. Wes­ley Burks, who serves as ex­ec­u­tive dean of the Univer­sity of North Carolina School of Medicine and the Cur­nen dis­tin­guished pro­fes­sor in the univer­sity’s Depart­ment of Pe­di­atrics, a post named for the school’s first chair­man of pe­di­atrics.

Burks, 63, has his own ties to the state. He earned his med­i­cal de­gree from UAMS, and com­pleted an in­tern­ship and res­i­dency pro­gram at Arkansas Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal be­fore be­com­ing chief res­i­dent in 1983.

Burks’ son, Chris, is an at­tor­ney in Arkansas, and his daugh­ter, Sarah, serves as Gov. Asa Hutchin­son’s ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy ad­viser.

Burks will un­dergo a sim­i­lar meet-and-greet through­out the state near the end of this month be­fore UA Sys­tem Pres­i­dent Donald Bob­bitt pitches his rec­om­men­da­tion to the board of trustees, who will then vote on Bob­bitt’s se­lec­tion.

The chan­cel­lor’s salary is a max­i­mum of $375,000 for the fis­cal year end­ing June 30, 2018, ac­cord­ing to Act 512 of 2017. But Arkansas code an­no­tated 6- 63- 309 states any ex­cep­tion­ally qual­i­fied in­di­vid­ual can earn up to 25 per­cent more than the line- item ap­pro­pri­ated amount. Other money can come from pri­vate funds.

Rahn earned $ 630,000 an­nu­ally as chan­cel­lor plus a $13,000 stipend for hous­ing and a car.

Dur­ing Ja­cob’s two-hour visit with the board of trustees, Chair­man Ben Hyne­man saw that Ja­cobs had a holis­tic vi­sion of UAMS’ role in Arkansas.

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