After months of searching, the Oregon Health & Science University has picked a new president.
Dr. Danny Jacobs, the dean of the school of medicine at the University of Texas, will take over August 1 for current OHSU President Joe Robertson, who announced his retirement last year, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
University board members said Jacobs is a good fit because of his commitment to communication. Robertson said he thought he was hearing himself speak when Jacobs said academic health centers are all about relationships.
“What it told me about Dr. Jacobs is that he knows the job is not like others. Being president of OHSU is not a command and control type job. There are times I wish it had been. I firmly believe the style that works best here is collaborative, consensus building leadership,” Robertson said.
Jacobs beat out two other finalists. Dr. Laura Roberts, chair of the psychiatry department at Stanford University, and Dr. Jay Hess, dean of the school of medicine at Indiana University.
With around 16,000 employees, OHSU is one of the Portland metro area’s largest employers. Dr. Jacobs will be the university’s first black president.
He said diversity is very important, including race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, thought, word and deed. He said he’s proud to be African American, but he’s also proud to just be an American.
Jacobs will oversee continued growth at the OHSU campus. He’ll also work on the Knight Cancer Institute’s ambitious plan to cure cancer.
He said his first 100 or so days will be spent answering three main questions, then listening, “What’s good? What’s great? And what can be better?”
Dr. Jacobs’s current appointments at the University of Texas include professorships in the Institute for Translational Sciences as well as the Departments of Surgery and Preventive Medicine and Community Health.
Jacobs has held faculty appointments at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Creighton University and Duke.
His research interests include the metabolic effects of malnutrition, stress and infection. He’s also interested in the nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy of organ function, bioenergetics and metabolism. He’s also researched growth factors in the nutritional support of patients.
He received his M.D. from Washington University in St. Louis and his M.P.H. from Harvard.