TEXAS TECH — The Texas Tech Board of Regents Monday selected Health Sciences Center President David Smith to serve as interim chancellor when current Chancellor John Montford’s resignation becomes effective Sept. 3.
“I’m really focused on building upon Montford’s momentum,” Smith said. “I want to focus on student scholarships, faculty support and growing enrollment.”
Smith said he was surprised by the decision, which he heard about while in Little Rock giving a speech for the Center of Disease Control.
He also said the Regents asked him to serve not only as interim chancellor, but also continue his job as president of the HSC until a permanent chancellor is named.
Smith also currently serves as Chairman of the State of Texas Correctional Managed Health Care Committee. Prior to serving as the HSC president, he was the Commissioner of the Texas Department of Health from 1992 to 1996. From 1989 to 1992, Smith was senior vice president of Parkland memorial Hospital in Dallas and chief executive officer and medical director of Parkland’s Community Oriented Primary Care Program.
Smith also has served as deputy director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Division of Special Populations and Program Development, medical director of the Brownsville Community Health Center and a member of the Brownsville Independent School District Board of Trustees.
Smith said he is not yet sure if he is interested in becoming Montford’s full-time replacement.
“I don’t know yet,” Smith said. “I’m going to wait and see. I really like what I’m doing now. That’s something I’ll have to discuss with the regents later. But Montford is a hard act to follow. I’m a big Red Raider fan and I’m happy to step in for right now.”
Tech Regents held a special meeting Monday in Lubbock to find a person to fill the interim position. Following the meeting, board Chairman Robert Brown said the Regents would not announce the selected candidate’s name until after that person had been contacted and accepted the position.
“Chairman Brown contacted (Smith) about an hour after the meeting and they spoke briefly and he accepted the job,” said Vice Chancellor for News and Publications Cindy Rugeley said.
When the Regents met to hire an interim chancellor, Brown was looking for a candidate who knew Tech well, he said.
“To me, I want someone who can work well with the current faculty at both the health sciences center and the university – basically someone who understands our university system and our budget and budget controls,” Brown said.
Montford announced his resignation July 3, almost five years after being named Tech’s first chancellor.
“I was coming up on my fifth year here and I decided to look at the situation,” Montford said. “I felt like the team we put in place here had accomplished the objectives that we started out to do and I felt like it was a good time for me to step down. It is time for a fresh face.”
Brown said it is too soon to tell how long Smith will serve as interim chancellor or when the Regents will name a new, full-time replacement for Montford.
“There’s not a definite timeline we have to face,” he said. “They’ll be the interim chancellor as long as it takes us to put together an effective search committee and go through the whole process in selecting a chancellor.”
President David Schmidly told The University Daily last week that he has no intentions of moving up to the position of chancellor.
“I am trying to run a university right now and I have only done it for almost a year,” he said. “I am an academician that enjoys working with the students and faculty. That is what turns me on.”
The Regents will further discuss who will serve on the chancellor search committee at the board’s next scheduled meeting, Brown said.
“I think that’s something we’ll discuss at the August 10 board meeting,” he said. “Obviously we’ll want the input of faculty, alumni, current students as well as the regents.”
Brown also said the best candidate for the job may be someone who is not even currently considering it.
“When I say search committee, probably the person we’re looking for is someone who is not looking for this job,” he said. “Someone we’re probably looking for is doing a great job somewhere else. That’s what I mean by search – it’s not so much a selection process where we’re looking at a lot of people who are submitting names and stuff like that. It may be that we go after a person who right now does not even have an interest in coming to Texas Tech, but they’re doing an outstanding job somewhere else.”
Brown said he felt the sooner the regents found a person to fill the slot on a permanent basis, the better off the university would be.
Smith said he is very excited about working more with the university side of the Tech system.
“I’m most excited about having a broader interaction on the undergraduates,” he said.