How The UT Land Deal In Houston Affected MD Anderson

How The UT Land Deal In Houston Affected MD Anderson


Leonard Zwelling

Chancellor Admiral McRaven is a ramrod straight shooter. I have had the pleasure of meeting him and knew that I was in the presence of a thoughtful warrior when I was in his office. Of course the magazine covers of the now deceased Osama Ben-Laden on the Chancellor’s wall and the silver sword above the Chancellor’s desk conveyed the same message.

It had thus seemed curious to me that he has not done to Dr. DePinho what he so ably did to Osama Ben-Laden. Admittedly, when he was commanding the SEALs he was in his element and his comfort zone. Now, leading a major academic institution with all its complex political agendas, he needs to use a set of skills that are not as well honed as the ones he used when he served his country. We have to give him some time to get up to speed, but it has been two years. Surely, the Chancellor can recognize what a bad choice Dr. DePinho was, that this choice was not made by him or his administration, and that there are new Regents now who can be shown the facts of the MD Anderson financial and administrative fiasco and act accordingly. Why hasn’t that happened?

First, let me say that I believe that it will. It simply has to. The greatest cancer center in the world cannot continue to limp along simply for lack of leadership, in Houston or Austin.

Second, many think it will now be hard to attract a good person for the next president after the mess left by Dr. DePinho. Bull feathers! Being president of MD Anderson is still a great job and many will flock to apply especially if they believe that the fix is not in this time. Last time the world thought Ray DuBois was a shoo-in and sat the preliminaries out. Too bad. MD Anderson got the loser or losers in this case. Hit the reset button.

Third, the Chancellor’s acquisition of the old oil field land south of the medical center without first consulting with the local legislators was a real faux pas (see url’s above). He thought he was beginning a plan for a UT data center. UH looked upon the purchase as an imposition on its role and its designs to become a first-tier research university. I understand the Chronicle feels the land give back is a missed opportunity for the city. Perhaps, but the acquisition was done in a clumsy fashion regardless of whether or not it was a good idea and that counts in a charged political environment.

Now the Chancellor has succumbed to massive political pressure from legislators and from some Regents. Admiral McRaven has been forced to sell it off, but I think it has been an albatross around the neck of this decorated sailor that prevented him from moving on getting rid of DePinho. His stock with the legislature and even some of the new Regents was not high due to his land grab. Now that the land deal is off, let’s move on up the block a bit (to 1515 Holcombe) and clean out Pickens Tower of the riff-raff that has accumulated. All of it! As far as I can see, that’s a far more toxic dump than the one the Chancellor bought. The good news is that you don’t need the EPA to clean up Pickens. Just a combat boot or in this case a deck swab.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *