Following Dr. Hal Maurer, the current chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, is a daunting prospect, a finalist for the job said Thursday.
“I met with Hal earlier today and told him I have a better understanding of how Tom Osborne might have felt when he took over for Bob Devaney” as head coach of the Nebraska football team, Dr. Daniel Wilson said.
Wilson, 57, spoke to a group of more than 40 people in the Durham Research Center auditorium.
He is the second of three remaining finalists to visit the medical center for an interview. One of them will succeed Maurer, who has been chancellor since 1998.
Maurer's leadership has been “profoundly transformational,” Wilson said.
“I really cannot think of another academic health center in the country that's had the trajectory that this one has experienced, especially in the last 10 or 15 years, but actually over the last 30 years or so.”
Wilson said UNMC has a fantastic foundation in place, but it's no time to complacently appreciate past successes.
He said he would move forward quickly but do so “only upon understanding the full range of issues as best I can and help the institution address the future.”
He said he hopes to determine “how can we sustain the dynamic growth in research, continue to have advances in education and address clinical care service needs in a rapidly changing environment.”
Wilson now serves as dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville and as vice president for health affairs at the University of Florida Health Science Center-Jacksonville.
Before moving to Florida in January 2012, he served as chairman of the psychiatry department at Creighton University for 11 years. During his time at Creighton, Wilson said, he developed “a great regard and profound respect” for UNMC.
He also worked closely with its staff, particularly in psychiatry with the joint Creighton-UNMC residency program, the operation of the Lasting Hope Recovery Center and the statewide Behavioral Health Reform initiative.
The familiarity is valuable, he said, but he noted that he doesn't claim to intimately know the operations or strategic planning at UNMC.
The mechanisms for funding academic health centers, which have been in place for more than a half-century, are changing, he said, as is the way health care is being provided and paid for.
“It's a time of major institutional transformation, transition,” Wilson said. “I think these are times when it's important to step back and take a look at what's happened and maybe rebalance the portfolio if necessary ... to make sure that all parts of the enterprise are working properly.”
Wilson grew up in Iowa, one of eight children of a physician and a nurse. He and his wife, Sandy, have a 20-year-old daughter who graduated from Omaha's Brownell-Talbot and attends college at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
The other finalists are Dr. Fred Meyers, executive associate dean of the School of Medicine at the University of California, Davis, who visited UNMC early this month, and Dr. Robert Califf, vice chancellor for clinical research and director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute at Duke University Medical Center. Califf is expected to visit in early July.
Last week, University of Nebraska officials announced that another finalist for the chancellor's job, Dr. Stephen Klasko, had withdrawn from consideration.
Klasko was appointed Thursday to the newly created position of president of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and president and chief executive officer of the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital system.