MEMPHIS — The search for a permanent chancellor for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center has been cancelled until a permanent UT president is hired, the school-s interim president announced Tuesday.
Dr. Joseph E. Johnson said he made the decision because of the attrition of candidates under consideration, the fact that the new president should make such a key selection and the willingness of Bill Rice to return as interim chancellor.
“The selection of a permanent chancellor is too important to our Health Science Center campus, the community it serves and the Memphis biotechnology initiative to be made by an interim president from a much smaller pool than originally planned,” Johnson said.
He noted former President John Shumaker started the search, but the schedule was disrupted by Shumaker-s resignation in early August. The search committee selected five finalists several months ago, but the pool dropped to only two by the time interviews were scheduled and one of them, Dr. Ian Taylor, withdrew after his campus interview.
“We had two good candidates, but we really need a larger pool from which to make a selection as critical as this one is,” Johnson said. “It-s also important that the permanent chancellor know the person for whom he or she will work and the expectations the new UT president has for the leader of the Health Science Center.
“The chancellor and the president must be in accord from day one.”
Johnson said the Dec. 15 return of Bill Rice as interim chancellor assures the campus will have stable, seasoned leadership until the search can be resumed once the new president is named. Johnson said he expects the new president to give early attention to the Memphis campus chancellorship.
“Bill Rice knows our Health Science Center very well,” Johnson said. “He served ably as chancellor for 10 years before stepping down in late 2002. Bill has the energy, experience and commitment we need right now at the Health Science Center.”
Johnson said he talked with the Memphis trustees prior to making the decision.
“I appreciate the hard work of the search committee and its various advisory groups and the interest of the two finalists who interviewed for the position,” Johnson said.