TYLER – Dr. Larry R. Kaiser, chairman of the department of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, was officially appointed president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston on Wednesday (May 14) by the UT System Board of Regents.
Kaiser, who will succeed Dr. James T. Willerson on August 1, 2008, was named the sole finalist for the position by the Board of Regents on April 14.
“Dr. Kaiser will be an outstanding leader for the Health Science Center, and we are extremely fortunate that he has agreed to take on this very important role,” Regents’ Chairman H. Scott Caven, Jr., said. “He brings to the presidency a distinguished track record in academic medicine and his accomplishments as a faculty member, clinician, researcher, fundraiser and administrator will serve the institution and the state well.”
Kaiser joined the department of surgery at Penn in 1991, becoming head of the department in 2001. Previously, he held faculty appointments in surgery at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Cornell University Medical College. He received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with highest honors and a medical degree from Tulane University. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Few people are as qualified as Dr. Kaiser is to run a high-quality health institution, and his credentials are beyond reproach,” UT System Chancellor ad interim Dr. Kenneth I. Shine  said. “A distinguished surgeon, teacher, administrator and fundraiser at one of the nation's oldest and prestigious medical schools, he has the breadth of experience, knowledge and wisdom necessary for meeting the range of challenges facing today's academic medical centers.”
Kaiser will succeed Dr. James T. Willerson, who announced last September his plans to step down as president of the institution. Willerson will become president of the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, succeeding Dr. Denton Cooley.
“On behalf of the Board of Regents, I would like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to Jim Willerson for his dedication and service as president of the health science center over the last seven years,” Caven said. “His contributions have helped raise the stature of the health science center and the quality of Texas health care in general.”
The UT Health Science Center – Houston is one of six health institutions and nine academic institutions that make up The University of Texas System, one of the nation’s largest higher education systems. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $10.7 billion (FY 2008) including $2.3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Student enrollment exceeded 194,000 in the 2007 academic year. The UT System educates nearly three-fourths of the state’s health care professionals and confers more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees. With more than 81,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.