UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn Announces Retirement

By Ben Boulden

During Rahn’s tenure at UAMS, the state’s only academic health sciences university and largest public employer, has undergone a significant transformation, expanding educational, clinical and research programs across the state of Arkansas.

University of Arkansas System President Donald R. Bobbitt, Ph.D., will form a search committee to find Rahn’s successor.

“It has been one of the great privileges of my career to be able to work with a person who so clearly epitomizes professionalism,” said Bobbitt. “Dr. Dan Rahn will leave a lasting legacy at UAMS, and both the institution and the UA System are much better because of his efforts.”

Bobbitt continued, “Dan is a rare individual in that he possesses a keen intellect, a highly developed and self-deprecating sense of humor and an approachable communication style. He has demonstrated time and again the knack for making the right decision at the right time. In the end, he will be impossible to replace, but the next leader will inherit a much-changed and improved institution. His legacy extends well beyond the buildings of UAMS and the many colleagues he’s led there, as he has also been a tireless advocate for improved health for all Arkansans.”

Reynie Rutledge, chairman of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees said, “As the state’s only academic medical center, UAMS is an extremely complex organization with a three-fold mission to teach the next generation of health care professionals while delivering state-of- the-art medical care and performing research related to human disease and conditions. Dan Rahn has been an exceptional leader for UAMS, demonstrating both the knowledge and compassion necessary to deliver health care to a vulnerable population, with a keen understanding of the business of medicine.”

Rutledge continued, “Dan will leave UAMS much stronger than it was when he arrived. The new chancellor will inherit a strong and vibrant organization that is making an impact not only on the health of those living in Arkansas but also those living around the nation and world.”

Rahn became chancellor of UAMS on Nov. 1, 2009, coming to Arkansas from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, where he served as president for eight years and as senior vice chancellor for health and medical programs for the University System of Georgia.

In 2009, UAMS had a $48 million budget deficit. Since that time, Rahn has led a university-wide initiative to improve efficiencies, cost effectiveness and performance, saving more than $100 million. He has overseen the reorganization of clinical programs into service lines focused on providing care centered on patients and families.

Educational degree programs at UAMS and student numbers have grown significantly under Rahn’s leadership especially with the addition of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Campus in Fayetteville. Today, UAMS has 75 degree and certificate programs and educates the majority of the state’s physicians, pharmacists, nurses and other health care professionals.

“It has been, and continues to be, a great honor to serve as chancellor of UAMS,” said Rahn. “Arkansas is fortunate that UAMS has a tremendously dedicated and talented faculty and staff, all of whom work every day to improve health and health care in Arkansas. I look forward to the year ahead and know that the impact of this institution will only increase in the future.”

During his time as chancellor, Rahn has worked with UAMS leaders and state officials to enhance or add programs that are critical to the state. Those have included the designation of UAMS as the state’s only adult Level One Trauma Center, the growth of telemedicine programs across the state, the growth of primary care and geriatric programs operated through UAMS’ regional centers and partnerships with other providers, and the addition of educational programs including a doctorate of nursing practice, doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences, physician assistant and physical therapy degree programs.

Under his leadership, UAMS has also focused on improving the health of underserved populations by establishing programs such as the Center for Pacific Islander Health in Fayetteville and the 12th Street Health and Wellness Center in Little Rock.

Since Rahn became chancellor, UAMS has strengthened its statewide presence and programs, increasing programs and services at its campus in northwest Arkansas and opening new or upgraded facilities for regional centers and family medical centers in Texarkana, Jonesboro and Fort Smith.

Oral health is a major problem in Arkansas, which ranks at the bottom in the nation. To help address this problem, Rahn has championed the development of a Dental Center and a dental residency program at UAMS, and is leading the formal planning process for the first College of Dentistry in Arkansas.

He has worked tirelessly to share the expertise of UAMS through partnerships across the state. He works closely with leaders at UAMS affiliates Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, where UAMS physicians provide the majority of care to patients and conduct research.

He has forged stronger relationships between UAMS and other health care providers and has led efforts to establish new medical residency programs across Arkansas to help address the physician shortage. Another example of his collaborative leadership was his role in the formation of the Partnership for a Healthy Arkansas, an affiliation between UAMS, Baptist Health, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, St. Bernard’s Healthcare in Jonesboro, and Washington Regional Medical Center in northwest Arkansas.

Rahn was instrumental in the success of the Arkansas Research Alliance and serves on the board of this public-private partnership, which invests in research that stimulates innovation, encourages collaboration and strengthens economic opportunity for the state.

“Dan is an extraordinary leader,” said Jerry Adams, president of the Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA). “His energy, vision and resilience are qualities that have served him well when dealing with complex pressures on health care and especially on academic medical centers like UAMS. I have learned much from Dan and I have also enjoyed his wit, humor and good will. He has been a strong member of the ARA board and a champion for the strategic value of university research as a critical part of the economic future of Arkansas.”

Rahn has served as an advisor on health policy to both Gov. Mike Beebe and Gov. Asa Hutchinson and served on Hutchinson’s Advisory Council on Medicaid Reform.

In 2011-2012, in cooperation with the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, Rahn co-chaired a core group of health professionals to propose recommendations to address health care workforce shortages. Implementation of the group’s proposals is ongoing and includes moving to patient-centered, team-based care; increasing the use of health information technology; improving the distribution of primary care services; and adopting new financing, payment and reimbursement policies.

As an administrator, Rahn is nationally recognized for his work on workforce shortages in health professions. He is a member of the Association of Academic Health Centers and led its Health Workforce Shortages Advisory Committee. He was also recently honored by the American College of Physicians with the award of Mastership of the College (MACP), one of only two Arkansas physicians to receive the designation.

A native of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, Rahn is a graduate of Yale University and the Yale University School of Medicine, where he later began his professional career as director of the Lyme Disease Program, director of clinical training in rheumatology and director of faculty practice for the Department of Internal Medicine. He and his wife, Lana, have three grown children and two grandchildren.

In a newspaper interview in 2009, shortly after he came to UAMS, Rahn was asked how he would want to go down in history. His answer, “Just as someone who left the place better than he found it, someone who gives more than he takes. I really believe that you make a life with what you give. The things I’ve found where I’ve gotten the most have been things where I intended to give.”