Dr. Danny Jacobs Will Leave Texas to Serve as OHSU’s Fifth President
OHSU’s Board of Directors voted unanimously on Tuesday to name Dr. Danny Jacobs as the institution’s next president, effective Aug. 1. Dr. Joe Robertson, who last autumn announced plans to retire on June 15, will stay in the job for six weeks longer than originally planned.
Jacobs is a Harvard University and Washington University-St. Louis graduate with an accomplished resume that culminates in his current position as University of Texas Medical Branch provost and dean of the school of medicine.
But it his commitment to a culture of collaboration, inclusiveness and transparency that lifted him above the other highly credentialed candidates for the position, OHSU board members said after they cast their votes.
“All of us would agree that leadership experience is extremely important, but style of leadership is important as well,” said Ana Brar, OHSU board member and med school student in the class of 2019.
“What we saw from Dr. Jacobs and what we heard from our colleagues in the community and on campus were characteristics key to the success of OHSU,” she said, echoing remarks made by other board members. “Dr. Jacobs is very accessible. Simply put, he wants to hear from you.”
Jacobs will also be OHSU’s first African American president, and his appointment comes at a time when the university has doubled down its commitment to diversity following a survey of faculty and staff that revealed dissatisfaction among many women and minorities.
In a meeting with media after Tuesday’s board meeting, Jacobs acknowledged the importance of diversity and said it is about more than race.
“I’m proud to be African American,” he said. But “Diversity – capital D” is also about more than race, he said, and also includes “gender, sexual orientation, thought, word, deed.”
“As president, I’m going to represent the larger perspective,” he continued. “There’s a business case for diversity. The science is sound.”
Reflecting on the upcoming transition and the end to a career spent largely at OHSU, Robertson praised his successor. “He is an exceptional clinician, scientist and leader who we can now refer to as president-select,” the current president said.
“When he said, ‘Academic health centers are all about relationships I swear,’ I thought I could hear myself speak,” Robertson said.
Jacobs was also quick to praise Robertson, and said he expects to call on his predecessor for advice often as he gets to know his way around OHSU.
Indeed, he said, calling on the insight and expertise of others will be critical to his leadership approach – especially in the early months on the job. He noted that he wants to meet with patients, community members, faculty, staff and students with the same three questions about OHSU: What’s good? What’s great? What can be better?
“This public mission, this idea that serving the public is not only important but vital, to me is compelling,” Jacobs said. “It’s a terrific honor, I could not be more grateful.”
Jacobs has agreed to a five-year contract at OHSU, with the option to extend after the third and fourth years, said board Chairman Wayne Monfries, a Nike executive. “When we get to the third or fourth year we will be looking at how things are going,” Monfries said.
He will receive a base pay of $1.1 million per year, to be assessed annually by the chair of the OHSU board. Incentive pay will range from nothing percent to a maximum of 43.275 percent -- with a 35 percent bonus if he meets his targets. He will also be paid $100,000 as a sign-on incentive, may receive retention payments if taking the job results in a loss of compensation from his current employer, will be fully reimbursed for relocation expenses, will receive temporary housing for up to 12 months, and will have an annual expense stipend of $50,000.
News of the hiring was met with praise from leaders across the state.
“Dr Jacobs really has done all of the right things in Texas, in terms of committing to diversity, affordability and retention of quality students. We are looking forward to working together to expand on that,” said Portland State University President Rahmat Shoureshi, who was on the search committee that recommended finalists to the OHSU board.
“I welcome Dr. Danny Jacobs and his family to Oregon and the presidency of OHSU,” state Sen. Peter Courtney, one of OHSU’s staunchest supporters in the Legislature, said in a statement. “Dr. Jacobs succeeds the retiring President Dr. Joe Roberts, a wonderful person and doctor.”
Reach Courtney Sherwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.