Rahn's exit timetable questioned

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Dr. Daniel W. Rahn is leaving his post as Medical College of Georgia president this year. The exact date has not been set, which is causing concern.

Medical College of Georgia President Daniel W. Rahn will be leaving Augusta to take a similar post with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. But when that will happen is unclear and a concern to some.

Dr. Rahn was approved in a unanimous vote Tuesday by the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees to become the next chancellor of the Little Rock school.

"In my judgment, we're getting somebody who has strong leadership abilities," said university system President B. Alan Sugg. "He's got excellent communication skills. I think he will represent the university very well with the external public, with the Legislature, with support groups."

Dr. Rahn, who has been president of MCG since 2001, was identified by the executive search firm looking for a successor to retiring Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson.

When Dr. Rahn will become a chancellor is still an open question. He said Arkansas officials have assured him that they will be flexible and that it could be any time between July 1 and the end of the year. There are many projects at MCG, such as finalizing funding for the new building for the School of Dentistry and firming up plans for new student housing, that he wants to complete.

"There are a number of things that I really want to see through to finish well in my current position," Dr. Rahn said, "and then have a smooth transition as the search goes forward for the next president at MCG."

It is for those same reasons, however, that state Sen. Ed. Tarver, D-Augusta, would like a shorter process. Mr. Tarver said he didn't know whether "in this instance a long goodbye is in the best interests of MCG, with the number of extremely important decisions that are being made regarding the future of MCG both in Augusta and statewide. It raises the question of whether or not moving forward as quickly as possible to select new leadership would be a better strategy in this case."

Mr. Tarver said that he expressed his concerns to University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. and that ultimately it will be up to the Board of Regents. That issue might be dealt with at the board's next meeting, April 14-15.

"I would like to see the search started as quickly as possible," Mr. Tarver said. "And that a new leader be identified for the Medical College of Georgia at the earliest possible date. And if necessary that the institution move as quickly as possible to identify an interim while their search is ongoing."

Mr. Davis released a statement saying no timeline for a search has been set.

"Dr. Rahn's departure will be a tremendous loss for the people of Georgia and for MCG," Mr. Davis said in the statement.

Dr. Rahn said he is also trying to be fair to the needs of the school in Little Rock, where he and wife, Lana, have yet to begin house-hunting.

"I'm feeling very good," he said. "Lana and I are very excited about this new challenge. I'm also very bullish on the future for MCG. But we're very excited about this new opportunity."

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.