LINCOLN — As the next chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Jeffrey Gold will follow a fundraising powerhouse who stimulated enormous building growth at the Omaha institution.
Gold understands academic medical centers, hospitals, fundraising and the importance of philanthropy to such institutions, said Dr. James Linder, head of the search committee responsible for identifying candidates for the chancellorship.
Dr. Jennifer Larsen, UNMC's vice chancellor for research, said the vice chancellors met with Gold eight days ago. “I think he's an outstanding communicator, and he has a broad range of skills that are exactly what we need at this time to move forward,” she said.
Larsen said Gold's experience in academic medical centers such as UNMC and its hospital partner will help him deal with the challenges of flat federal funding for research, questions about how the Affordable Care Act will affect medical teaching institutions and the importance of partnerships.
The N.U. Board of Regents confirmed his appointment Friday, and Gold will succeed Dr. Harold Maurer as UNMC's chancellor on Feb. 1. Gold, 61, has served as chancellor and executive vice president of biosciences and health affairs at the University of Toledo in Ohio as well as executive dean of the university's college of medicine. He helped merge the Medical University of Ohio with the University of Toledo in the mid-2000s.
He will be paid $775,000 in Nebraska.
Gold said in a phone interview Friday that his goal is to “raise the distinction of the health system, to continue to grow not just the size but the quality and the access to superb, quality health care.”
His job, he told The World-Herald, will be “to make sure we are educating a generation of health professionals who are well-equipped to embrace these new challenges and to tightly partner with the community to make this possible.”
Gold said he was impressed when he visited the campus in October. “There's a tremendous history and also a great opportunity for both the community as well as for the university and the health system.”
He described NU and the state as “particularly well-positioned to be flexible and positioned to embrace the challenge and to build on a wonderful legacy.”
During a 16-minute meeting in Lincoln, N.U. President J.B. Milliken and the regents said they were delighted to have a new chancellor.
“I am convinced that he will do an outstanding job as chancellor of UNMC,” Milliken said.
The Regents voted 5-0 on the appointment, though Chairman Tim Clare of Lincoln said the three absent regents — Howard Hawks and Hal Daub, both of Omaha, and Bob Phares of North Platte — had conveyed to him their support of the appointment.
Maurer, UNMC's chancellor since 1998, has overseen the transformation of the campus. UNMC has erected more than five new buildings and building additions in the past five years alone. UNMC and its hospital partner also are building a $370 million cancer center. After Gold takes over, Maurer, 77, is expected to continue raising money for the cancer center.
Linder said Friday that he recently sat in on a breakfast at which Gold met with some of Omaha's business leaders. Gold will clearly be “comfortable in talking to business leaders and people who can support the university,” Linder said.
“I think he is cut from the same bolt of cloth as Chancellor Maurer,” Linder said. “I can't emphasize how happy we are.”
Connie Miller, UNMC Faculty Senate president and a College of Nursing faculty member, was among about 10 faculty leaders who met with Gold last week when he was in Omaha. He expressed an eagerness to be accessible to faculty, was gregarious and conveyed a good sense of humor, Miller said.
“He's got the personality,” she said. “We're excited.”
Gold said in an email Friday that it would be a pleasure to share his pride in the institution and his vision for special projects. “I look forward to working with the university leaders to develop new philanthropic opportunities and to meticulously steward the remarkable generosity of the community resources that UNMC has enjoyed,” he said.
Gold wasn't one of the four original finalists. They either withdrew or didn't remain in the hunt for other reasons. Milliken's office said last week that Gold was identified by the university's search consulting firm, Isaacson, Miller, while in consultation with Milliken and Linder.
“We didn't know of him” the first time around, Milliken said Friday. “Seriously, his name had not surfaced earlier. When his name surfaced from a variety of sources, we engaged him, and a discussion began then.”
Linder said a colleague of Gold's touted his success at Toledo and suggested to the search committee that Gold is “one of the best academic leaders in the country.”
Gold has presided over a $100 million building boom on the University of Toledo health sciences campus. A $36 million simulation center is being erected there, and a $10.5 million cancer center has been built. Hospital patient rooms have been renovated and other improvements have been made at the University of Toledo Medical Center.
In addition to serving as UNMC's chancellor, Gold will be chairman of the board of the new unified clinical enterprise involving the Nebraska Medical Center, Bellevue Medical Center and UNMC Physicians.
Gold said he likes art, classical music and college sports. He tries to work out daily on an elliptical machine.