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Three candidates in running to be UAMS chancellor

Three candidates, including an internal one, have applied to become the next chancellor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

The trio are the first round of applicants to go for the job since the University of Arkansas System restarted the search in August.

At that time, the system had selected two finalists -- Dr. A. Wesley Burks, 63, executive dean of the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Dr. Danny O. Jacobs, 62, executive vice president, provost and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas -- but both withdrew from the race with no public explanation.

"We are in the early stages of redeveloping the pool of interested individuals as a whole," said Dr. Jeannette Shorey, who is leading a search committee at the academic medical center. "This includes gauging those interested previously and also looking for new interest in addition to the three newest applicants. The number of new formal applicants is not of concern."

The search comes at a time when UAMS is staunchly sticking to its three-pronged mission -- educating health care professionals, providing patient-centered health care and advancing research -- when the sector's future direction is uncertain.

UAMS has increased its coffers by $65 million and reduced from 14 percent to 3 percent the number of uninsured Arkansans it provided servives for because of the Arkansas Works program, the state's expanded Medicaid program, officials have said. But changes are afoot as Congress goes through iterations of repealing and replacing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The next chancellor must not only have the necessary skills and qualifications, but also be the right fit to lead the academic medical center into the future, Shorey said.

UA System President Donald Bobbitt, who was unavailable for an interview Wednesday, has said that the committee will "work as long as it takes" to find the candidate who best fits with UAMS.

"As with any senior leadership search, our task comes down to finding an individual whose experience, vision and passion align with the needs of the institution and state," he has said. "... I have no doubt that staying the course with a deliberative, participatory process will lead us to the right person to serve as our next chancellor."

The three newest applicants are:

• Dr. C. Lowry Barnes, chairman of UAMS' Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and a professor there.

• Dr. Giovanni Piedimonte, the Steven and Nancy Calabrese Endowed Chair for Excellence in Pediatric Care, Research and Education, a professor and the chairman of pediatrics at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University. He is also the chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Pediatric Institute, the physician-in-chief at the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital and the president of the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital for Rehabilitation in Ohio.

• Dr. Fredric Wondisford, professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine at Rutgers University's Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a chancellor scholar at the New Jersey university.

The applicants are vying to replace Dr. Dan Rahn, who retired at the end of July after nearly eight years at the helm. Stephanie Gardner, UAMS' senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, is the interim.

Rahn earned $630,000 annually, plus a $13,000 stipend for housing and a car. On top of that, the UAMS foundation pitched in $270,000 in annual deferred compensation, which is set aside for his retirement.

The state has allocated a maximum of $375,000 for this fiscal year for the position, but Arkansas Code Annotated 6-63-309 states that exceptionally qualified people can earn up to 25 percent more than the line-item appropriated amount. Institutions can supplement salaries through private funds as well.

Metro on 10/12/2017



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