Special to the Business Press
Dr. Michael Williams says he is grateful for the vote of confidence he has been given after six months as interim president of the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth. “It is gratifying and validating to have the support and confidence of the Fort Worth community leaders as well as the faculty, staff and UNT Board of Regents,” Williams said June 13 following the announcement that he is the “sole finalist” for president of the UNT Health Science Center. The announcement was made at a special called meeting of the UNT System Board of Regents June 12. The board will officially vote on Williams’ appointment at another called meeting in early July – at least 21 days after naming the finalist, as specified by state law, UNT System Chancellor Lee F. Jackson’s office confirmed. “I feel a real sense of validation – that we are going in the right direction,” Williams, said. “People in this community and in the UNT leadership resonate with the message that I am trying to send: that we are growing in prominence and that we want to give back.” Williams said earlier that he wanted to tighten the Health Science Center’s vision and focus even more on becoming a world leader in medical education, research and patient care, especially primary care. Williams, who has served as interim president since last December, was the unanimous recommendation from a presidential search advisory committee made up of UNT and community leaders, Jackson said. “Dr. Williams has given us a realistic assessment of our opportunities and needs, and we’re confident that he has the right experience and personality to improve the partnership between the UNT Health Science Center, hospitals and health care professionals, and the Fort Worth community,” said Jackson. “The Search Advisory Committee talked to several strong national candidates and concluded that Dr. Williams’ track record as a health care leader is a great match for what we want to achieve in Fort Worth. He will bring people together around a common vision with a focus on quality care for patients and a caring, supportive environment for our faculty, staff and students.” Williams, 58, who grew up in Fort Worth, is a 1981 graduate of Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, now one of five schools within the UNT Health Science Center. He also holds degrees from Texas Wesleyan University, Duke University, Harvard University and Ross University. Williams said that he is pleased and honored to return to his hometown and lead the Health Science Center. “It is a great opportunity to be the first Fort Worth native and first TCOM alum to serve as president…We have a number of opportunities to further elevate our national profile, academic quality, breadth of programs and cooperation with other health care providers,” Williams said. He recently was named to U.S. News & World Report’s “Hospital of Tomorrow” advisory council, which includes the presidents of the Cleveland Clinic, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Duke University Medical Center, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital among other nationally prominent medical leaders. Williams, who was on the UNT Board of Regents and CEO of Hill Country Memorial Hospital in Fredericksburg, Texas, when he was named interim president of the Health Science Center, said in an earlier interview that he often looks to successful business practices to find solutions to health care problems. “In both medical education and health care there has been a real lack of business approaches. Health care organizations have been slow to recognize that they are in fact, businesses,” and patients and their families are in fact our customers, Williams said. Williams, who has both osteopathy and medical degrees, has said that adding an MD program at UNT Health Science Center continues to be among his top priorities along with the new college of pharmacy and more space for medical research. UNTHSC confers the osteopathy degree to students at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and both master’s and doctoral degrees through its Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, School of Public Health and School of Health Professions. The new UNT College of Pharmacy will enroll its first students this fall.