September 15, 2009, News 12 at 6 O'clock
AUGUSTA, Ga.---He's seen enrollment climb and he's seen amazing growth during his 18 years at the Medical College of Georgia. But this fall, MCG President Dr. Dan Rahn will be leaving the campus he's called home for so long.
And what a career it's been. Dan Rahn came to Augusta in 1991 to work with a friend who was the chair of the Department of Medicine at the time. He can say something not many of us can claim. He says he's never had to look for a position; the job always finds him. Whether you consider that lucky or blessed, the man has broken ground on new buildings time and time again during his years in Augusta.
The outgoing president ticks them off one by one: "The Student Wellness Center, the Health-Sciences Building, the Cancer Research building..."
Not to mention acquiring the property to build the new School of Dentistry. His office wall is lined with the hard-hats and shovels from all those projects.
"All of these projects are the result of many, many, many people's efforts," Rahn says.
Aside from running The Medical College of Georgia during an age of state budget cuts, Dr. Rahn's other challenge has always been to accept and graduate more and more med students. During his time as president, enrollment has increased more than 24 percent.
But he could never keep up with the demand. Applicants increased 48 percent during that same time.
Rahn says, "It's essential that the institution continue to grow as the needs grow."
Keeping up with Georgia's increasing demand for doctors led Dan Rahn to push for expansion of MCG. Not just here in Augusta but across the state, including Athens.
"It does have a statewide mission," Rahn says. "MCG is Georgia's Health-Sciences University. But it is located in Augusta."
It was a controversial idea and he faces heated local opposition.
"There were certainly times when I felt like enough was enough, but I'm not leaving because those things became too much. I'm leaving because I think it's a good time to go and because I think this is a good opportunity."
Another low point came in June of last year when Dr. Rahn asked members of the MCG Foundation to resign so he could create a new board. He wanted a group that shared the same vision and had the same priorities. He considers that time a low point.
"Yeah, that was a very difficult time, and it continues to be very difficult," he says. "It's certainly not something I wanted to see happen and it's something I worked very hard to avoid."
Now, as he allows himself a moment to look ahead, Dan Rahn understands the hard part will actually be leaving Augusta.
"You know, Richard, when I actually get in the car and drive out of town, I think I'm really gonna miss this."
After all, it's the place where he raised his three kids. They were only four, six and nine years old when he moved here.
"But I think mostly we'll miss friendships and relationships--people. Mostly people," Rahn says.
His other challenge will be leaving the SEC East for Little Rock Arkansas and the SEC West. We wondered if he even knows how to "call the Hogs".
"Not yet," Rahn admits, "but I learned to call the Dogs, you know? So if I can call dogs, I think I can call hogs. You know, it's probably an acquired skill."
Dan Rahn also says he's proud to be leaving Augusta with dirt on his hands.
He will be here when they break ground on that new Dental School September 30Th.
MCG's interim president, Jim Thompson, starts October 5, and Dr Rahn will stick around for a month of transition before starting his new job in Little Rock November 1.