Regents Fire UNTHSC President Scott Ransom, Saying He Fought Merger

Scott Ransom

The University of North Texas Board of Regents has fired UNT Health Science Center (UNTHSC) President Scott Ransom. The board, which met Friday on the Fort Worth medical school campus, deliberated in closed session for nearly two hours before acting.

According to a report in the Star-Telegram, the regents sent Ransom a letter Tuesday, accusing him of fomenting “internal discord” in opposition to a possible merger of the Fort Worth center and the main university campus in Denton.

“Instead of allowing this study to proceed in a thoughtful and objective way, we discovered that you were conducting a personal campaign to stop any serious internal consideration of this issue,” the letter stated.

The regents approved in August an exploration of consolidating UNTHSC under the system’s administration at the main campus in Denton. However, system chancellor Lee Jackson said earlier this month that he found the consolidation discussion took focus away from UNT’s long-standing campaign to create an allopathic medical school in Fort Worth.

Michael Williams, DO, MD a member of the UNT Board of Regents and UNTHSC graduate, was named interim president.

Williams, 58, of Fredericksburg and a Fort Worth native, was appointed to the board in September 2011. He has been CEO of Hill Country Memorial Hospital since 2008. Williams received a bachelor’s degree from Texas Wesleyan University, a doctor of osteopathic medicine from UNTHSC, a medical degree from Ross University, a master of business administration from Duke University, and a master’s degree in health care management from Harvard University.

“I am pleased and honored to be able to return to my home town and lead the Health Science Center in this capacity,” said Williams. “We have a number of opportunities to further elevate our national profile, academic quality, breadth of programs and cooperation with other healthcare providers. “

Williams, 58, is board certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology in anesthesiology and critical care medicine, and he is a member of the Texas Medical Association, Texas Hospital Association, Texas Osteopathic Medical Association, American College of Physician Executives, American College of Health Care Executives, and is a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians. He is also past vice president of the Fredericksburg Independent School District Board of Trustees.

“The board is confident that Dr. Williams will serve as a successful and stabilizing force in moving this institution forward,” said Jack Wall, board chairman who also signed the letter to Ransom. “He brings remarkable academic, clinical and executive leadership experience to this role. His communication skills, first-hand knowledge in fostering a network of high-quality primary care services, proven abilities in financial management, and perspectives of both M.D. and D.O. medical training will be valuable assets for this institution.“

Wall reiterated UNT’s desire to pursue an allopathic medical school.

“The pursuit and establishment of the MD program will further enhance our ability to deliver quality health care, conduct ground-breaking research and provide broad-based education and training to future physicians,” he said.

According to a copy of Ransom’s employment contract obtained by the Dallas Morning News, the regents had extended his agreement on Sept. 1 through August 2015.

UNTHSC had made considerable progress since Ransom was appointed in 2006. The campus enrollment had increased by 73 percent under his watch, with the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM), School of Public Health, School of Health Professions and Graduate School of Biomedical Science all contributing to the growth. Total campus enrollment was 1,949 this semester.

The School of Public Health added a master of health administration program in 2009, a doctor of philosophy in public health in 2011 and the state’s first online master of public health degree program this fall. The School of Health Professions started a doctor of physical therapy in 2010. It is also adding the first pharmacy school in North Texas in fall 2013.

TCOM has been ranked among the top 50 medical schools for primary care by U.S. News & World Report since 2003. In 2012, its 62 percent of graduates entering primary-care residencies was ranked second in the nation, according to the magazine.

The school achieved a record amount of research expenditures—exceeding $42.2 million—in fiscal year 2012, leading all Texas health science centers in research growth. Research awards have increased by more than 58 percent in the last five years.

Prior to becoming UNTHSC’s fifth president, Ransom was executive director of the program for healthcare improvement and leadership development and professor with tenure in obstetrics, gynecology, health management and policy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Before that, he was senior vice president and chief quality officer at the Detroit Medical Center, a $1.8 billion, seven-hospital health care system.

He earned a medical degree from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences; a master of business administration degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; and a master of public health degree from Harvard University. He is a past president of the American College of Physician Executives.

Steve Jacob is editor of D Healthcare Daily and author of the new book Health Care in 2020: Where Uncertain Reform, Bad Habits, Too Few Doctors and Skyrocketing Costs Are Taking Us. He can be reached at steve.jacob@dmagazine.com.