Dr. Michael Williams was a member of the UNT System Board of Regents at UNT until December 20, 2012 – this was the day he stepped down in order to take the position of interim president of the UNT Health Science Center the next day upon the firing of existing president Scott Ransom. The interim position has been given no time limit, but Williams has made it clear that he would like to make his presidency at the Health Science Center permanent.
Williams comes in as interim president amid concerns and criticisms over the firing of Scott Ransom, and will need to mend fences and create a unity that currently doesn’t exist. Many have faith in his potential to begin to mend these fences, given that he is a native of Fort Worth. As he said in an interview with The Fort Worth Star-Telegram,
“This institution is extremely important to Fort Worth, and Fort Worth is extremely important to this institution.”
There are no guarantees that he will be named the permanent president of The University of North Texas Health Science Center, as there will be a nationwide search in which he will be a candidate. He plans to create change while he is interim president, however, and is already setting long-term goals for the school.
Among his many goals for the Health Science Center are trying to garner $66 million in funding for a new research building, obtaining funding through the state for the College of Pharmacy, and pushing for an M.D. program at the school.
He already has resistance in achieving an M.D. program, with legislation in Texas stating that UNT cannot issue M.D. degrees. The law would have to be changed before funding could be garnered toward this type of program at the school. Although Williams’ home town of Fort Worth supports the prospect of an M.D. program at UNT, there are still many opponents. Former Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis is one such opponent, saying of Williams,
“He knows where I stand, and have stood from the very beginning, ” and says an M.D. program at UNT is “not making any progress at all.”
Even though there is the potential another candidate will be chosen for the permanent position as president of UNT Health Science Center, those in the Texas biotech industry welcome a native to a position that can potentially increase the chances of establishing programs to create more doctors in Texas.