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Franks may leave ETSU to explore new opportunities

March 13th, 2007 5:45 am by SAM WATSON

JOHNSON CITY - Thoughts of taking on one more job before retirement have Dr. Ronald Franks considering a move from leading East Tennessee State University's Health Affairs Division.

"I have - at my age - one more opportunity," said Franks, ETSU's vice president for health affairs. "With the change in my responsibilities as a full-time vice president, if I stay here, I want to be sure this is the job I want to retire from.

"Probably the best way for me at least to know that for sure is to interview at a couple of places that have somewhat different responsibilities and see what fits best for me."

After nine years as ETSU's vice president for health affairs and medical dean, Franks left ETSU's James H. Quillen College of Medicine in September to concentrate full time on his expanding vice presidential duties.

As vice president for health affairs, he oversees Quillen, ETSU's College of Nursing, its College of Public and Allied Health, and the university's newest unit, the College of Pharmacy. The College of Public and Allied Health is evolving into two units, the ETSU College of Public Health, the first freestanding public health college in the state, and the College of Allied Health Sciences.

Franks, 61, is a candidate for three similar posts in other states.

"I allowed my name to go forward once I was secure that we had good leadership in our colleges in the health sciences and in particular that we had gotten through the first major hurdle as far as accreditation for the College of Pharmacy," he said.

He will meet Wednesday and Thursday with a search committee in Mobile, Ala., for the health services leadership post at the University of South Alabama.

Along with overseeing academic units, the South Alabama post would include jurisdiction over the leadership at university hospitals, which would pose a new challenge for Franks.

In February, Franks was among the finalists in consideration to lead a new medical school's development in Scranton, Pa.

"Again, that would be something different than what I've done thus far," he said.

His experience at ETSU and with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the accrediting body for all U.S. and Canadian medical schools that award the doctor of medicine degree, led to his candidacy. Franks was named the LCME's co-chairman last summer.

The Scranton search remained open, and Franks expected to hear results soon.

He also has entered the presidency search at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where current President John D. Stobo plans to step down Aug. 31. Interviews are scheduled for late March.

"I didn't put my name in for any of these positions," Franks said. "They contacted me, and I allowed my name to go forward as part of this review of what I want to do with my professional life."

Despite the job hunt, Franks said his career is not necessarily over at ETSU.

"Quite the contrary. In taking on the responsibility of full-time VP, I've launched into that with several initiatives," Franks said. "I very much enjoy the people I work with here."

Should he accept another job, Franks said, it would not be out of dissatisfaction at ETSU, but if he were to make a change, this would be the time to do it given his age and the stage of his career.

"If I stay here, I fully expect that I will retire here," he said.

Franks said he had not shared his candidacy for other jobs widely at ETSU, but some colleagues who were aware, including ETSU President Paul Stanton, had encouraged him to stay.

"That's been very positive, and I have to say how much I enjoy the working relationship with everyone at ETSU," Franks said. "That makes it extremely difficult to even look at other positions."

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