Dr. Williams to Step Down

Published: November 2nd, 2017

Category: Uncategorized

Dear friends and colleagues,

Last week I informed Dr. Good, Dr. Guzick and Mr. Jimenez that I have decided to step down as Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology on June 30, 2018. I have had the honor and pleasure of serving as your Chair for the past 12 years, 2 years as Acting and Interim Chair and 10 years as Chair. In 2018, I will have been a faculty member at the University of Florida for 30 years, almost half of the total time the UF COM has been in existence, and I will turn 65 years old. So now is the right time for both the Department and myself to turn the page. I have always had the opinion that Chairs and most leadership positions should not extend their tenure too long because new visions, ideas and vigor come from new leadership.

Our Department has excelled in so many ways over the years. Our greatest strength and asset to the COM has always been teaching. Just to mention a few highlights over the past few years: ObGyn has had more Hippocratic awardees and Life Time Achievement awardees combined  than any other department. Our department has received the most Golden Apple awards for the best clerkship, as voted on by senior medical students at UF, compared to all other departments. The American Association of Professors in Gynecology and Obstetrics recognized our clerkship as the best in the nation and a model for others to emulate. You consistently excite students about our specialty, resulting in twice the national average of each class choosing ObGyn as their specialty of choice. You regularly attract the best and brightest students to come to our residency to train. Over time, more than 25% of our residents have chosen to subspecialize and another 10% have stayed in academics as generalists. Each of you are highly prized as experts in your area of interest and are regularly invited to speak at national conferences and share your expertize in many different ways. Clinically, our department has been regularly ranked by the US News and World Report as one of the top 50 gynecology programs in the US. You are referred  complex patients from all over Florida and beyond. The acuity of our ObGyn patients is twice as high as any other hospital in Florida, yet you produce great outcomes for your patients. In a word, you all are amazing!

Over the past 12 years we have had  welcome improvements in our facilities including a new Ob triage unit, private postpartum and gyn beds, the expansion of the original Parke Avenue practice first to Magnolia Parke and then to Spring Hill (which includes our first off site IVF lab/procedure area), the expansion of the Medical Plaza clinic, renovation of our offices and classrooms, our recent expansion into Ocala and the Villages, and now the beginning of renovations for L&D and unit 35.

As I look back over the 30 years of my career at UF, I realize that I was afforded multiple opportunities to assist the Department and the UF COM to expand and excel.  Here is a brief recap of the highlights of my history with the Department: I began my faculty career at UF in 1988 as the Division Director of REI under Dr. Jack Masterson (ObGyn Chair 1987-1995); in the early 90’s I was appointed to the first Board of Directors of the Florida Physicians Group Practice under Dr Masterson in his position as FGP CEO; I helped establish the first UF COM off site clinic (Parke Avenue) in 1988; I became one of the first Clinic Medical Directors in FGP under Dr. Warren Ross, FGP CEO and Senior Associate Dean after Dr. Masterson, and was Chair of the Medical Directors for four years; I was appointed Associate Chair of ObGyn by Dr. Keith Stone (ObGyn Chair 1996-2006)  in 2001, and after he stepped down as Chair, I was honored and privileged to be appointed Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology by Dean Good after a national search that lasted over a year.

I have also been fortunate over the years to be able to help advance the field of reproductive endocrinology and infertility, both at UF and on a national level. UF had one of the first IVF babies conceived in Florida after I arrived in 1988 and restarted the IVF program. In the early 90’s, Dr. Bob Rout, General Surgery, and I performed the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy in Florida, helping to push the minimally invasive surgery field at UF forward. In 1995, our IVF program had the first baby born in the southeastern US after we performed preimplantation genetic diagnosis in order to prevent the fatal occurrence of X linked hydrocephalus in a family that had already experienced two deaths in their offspring.  Nationally, I was given the opportunity to assist our subspecialty by serving in several leadership positions in both the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology. I was privileged to serve on the ASRM Society Development Committee for many years; to serve as Chair of the ASRM Membership committee for 5 years; to serve on numerous scientific review committees and as a scientific session moderator regularly; to serve as ASRM Postgraduate Course Director; to be elected by SART members across the nation to Chair the SART Membership Committee; to be elected by SART members as Treasurer; to be elected by SART members as President  ( a 6 year commitment); to serve on the SART Executive Council for over a decade; to serve as Chair of the National Coalition of ART; to serve as the SART liaison to the CDC; and to serve on the ASRM Board of Directors.

In 1990, I organized the first meeting of what would become the Florida Society of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, and subsequently was elected twice as the President of that society. In the 1990’s, I was elected by the membership to be a member of the prestigious South Atlantic Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology, one of the oldest scientific ObGyn societies in the US, and subsequently served on the Executive Board of SAAOG for several years. When membership was by invitation only in the 1990’s, I was elected to the Society of Gynecologic Investigation. In our parent specialty of Obstetrics and Gynecology, I served on the Florida Section of ACOG District IV Executive Council, and when the section became District XII, I also served on the Executive Board and the scientific program planning committee of the new district. I still enjoy being a member of all of these great organizations.

However, I do not count these achievements as my legacy. For that, I look to the people that I have helped mentor and train over the years. Of the current faculty, over 80% were hired during the past 12 years, and everyone who has been submitted for promotion during that time has been successful. I have seen medical students from UF COM graduate from medical school, complete their ObGyn residency at UF, join the faculty and are now emerging as leaders in the COM. The addition of new faculty from many diverse backgrounds and institutions has made our faculty even stronger. I have also seen the successful transition to a new Clerkship Director and Residency Director, after their long and successful predecessors stepped down, as well as the appointment of all four current Division Directors and the Associate Chair. In the past 12 years we have graduated 48 residents in ObGyn as well as numerous MFM fellows, seen over 120 UF students go into ObGyn, and now we provide  oversite of  the UF ObGyn residency program in Pensacola, which is training even more ObGyns. My greatest joy comes from seeing faculty, residents, fellows and students go on to establish their own successful careers, whether it is in academics or private practice. When we established the UF ObGyn Alumni Society 9 years ago, I envisioned having everyone return to his or her roots on occasion and join together as the “ObGyn Gator Nation”.  I am proud to have been part of that tradition.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you. I will remain on the faculty for the next couple of years before retiring, and will assist in whatever ways are needed to help the next Chair achieve new heights for our Department. Go Gators!

Sincerely yours,