Dr. Robert Clayton Robbins was announced Tuesday as the finalist to become the 22nd president of the University of Arizona by the Arizona Board of Regents after a special meeting at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. Also under consideration by the board was Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, executive vice president and chief research and innovation officer of Arizona State University's Knowledge Enterprise Development.
Robbins, 59, is scheduled to meet the UA community at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday in an open forum at the Environment and Natural Resources 2 building on campus. The forum, in the building's auditorium (Room N120), will be livestreamed at www.azregents.edu.
"Dr. Robbins has an impressive track record of leadership, research accomplishments and demonstrated success in managing the largest medical complex in the world," ABOR chair Greg Patterson said. "In addition to the obvious benefits to UA's two medical schools, Dr. Robbins' championship of cross-institutional research initiatives demonstrates that he is well-positioned to guide UA from its strong existing foundation to continued success in the areas of interdisciplinary scholarship and student success."
"Dr. Robbins' comprehensive experience as both a visionary leader and highly respected physician, as well as his evident talent for advancing research, innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development, will serve the University of Arizona and our state well," said Eileen Klein, ABOR's president. "I look forward to the possibility of collaborating with Dr. Robbins to advance the University of Arizona and achieve aggressive goals for the state of Arizona. His passion for students and higher education is genuine and I truly value his sincere openness, collegiality and integrity."
The board plans a special meeting on March 13 to finalize its selection for president and to begin contract negotiations.
Robbins joined the Texas Medical Center, or TMC, as president and CEO in 2012. Since then, he has significantly enhanced TMC's commitment to collaboration, introducing five cross-institutional research initiatives centered on innovation, genomics, regenerative medicine, health policy and clinical research. TMC, the largest medical complex in the world, is at the forefront of advancing life sciences.
An internationally recognized cardiac surgeon, Robbins has focused his clinical efforts on acquired cardiac diseases with a special expertise in the surgical treatment of congestive heart failure and cardiothoracic transplantation. His research work includes the investigation of stem cells for cardiac regeneration, cardiac transplant allograft vasculopathy, bioengineered blood vessels and automated vascular anastomotic devices.
Prior to joining TMC, Robbins served as professor and chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, founding director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, president of the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation, president of the Western Thoracic Surgical Association, president of the American Heart Association Western States Affiliate, president of the Bay Area Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and chair of the American Heart Association Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia Council, among other roles.
Robbins was elected to the Houston branch of the Dallas Federal Reserve board in 2015; to the board of directors of the Welch Foundation in 2014, where he currently serves as treasurer; and as the president of the American Heart Association Southwest Affiliate in 2016. He served on an independent blue ribbon committee to evaluate the Veterans Affairs health system, and the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston honored him as the 2016 International Citizen of the Year. Robbins is the author of more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and a former guest editor of the Circulation Surgical Supplement.
His educational background includes a B.S. in chemistry from Millsaps College, medical degree from the University of Mississippi, general surgical training at the University of Mississippi, cardiothoracic training at Stanford University, postdoctoral research at Columbia University and the National Institutes of Health, and congenital heart surgical fellowships at Emory University and Royal Children's Hospital.