The University of Texas System’s chancellor thinks Ben Raimer has earned the right to shorten his job title at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
Chancellor James Milliken announced Thursday he would ask the board of regents to change Raimer’s title from interim president of the medical branch to just simply president.
The recommendation is meant to recognize Raimer’s work leading the medical branch since he was named interim president two years ago, Milliken said.
“We feel that he’s done an exceptional job leading the institution that he’s devoted several decades to,” Milliken said. “We have heard from faculty and staff and community members and UTMB supporters about what a great job he’s done.”
“This is largely in recognition of his outstanding service,” Milliken said.
Raimer, 73, a longtime physician, professor and health care policy expert, was named interim president in August 2019, after the departure of former President David Callender. Raimer attended graduate school at the medical branch. In the 1970s, he opened a private pediatric practice in Galveston. His practice became affiliated with the medical branch in 1993. He has worked for the medical branch since then.
Raimer called Milliken’s recommendation humbling.
“It’s such a historic and awesome institution, and there are so many people at that school that have led it,” Raimer said. “It’s very humbling to have that responsibility and know that other people’s future depends on decisions you make every day. I just hope and pray I’ll be capable of making those decisions.”
The regents will have to vote on the proposal to remove the interim title at their next meeting, which is scheduled to be held in November. Given Milliken’s recommendation, it’s expected to be approved.
Raimer will be only the fifth person to be medical branch president since the position was created in 1967. The other presidents were Callender, John D. Stobo, Thomas N. James, William Levin and Truman Blocker.
In making the recommendation about Raimer, Milliken said the university system intended to continue a nationwide search for Raimer’s future successor.
The system formed a search committee last year, but its work was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Milliken said.
“We put it on pause during the pandemic because it made logistics extraordinarily difficult in terms of meetings and interviewing and because a lot of people who would be candidates for this job were heavily engaged in their own health care institutions because of COVID,” Milliken said.
The search committee probably would resume its work sometime in the next year, although the pandemic could still cause more delays in the search, he said.
Raimer said he was pushing ahead with plans for the medical branch stretching out over the next two years or longer.
“My philosophy is I will work as long as they want me to work,” Raimer said. “Even if tomorrow is my last day, I will give it my best. It won’t change the office or how I approach people and planning ahead.
“I want to leave a new president in a good condition with people and with finances,” he said.