UAMS chancellor hopeful visits
Camden native says hospital’s top job is important to state
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.